Friday, July 19, 2013

The Two People in My Head


Sorry for not posting the past few days. They have been a huge mental struggle and I couldn’t bring myself to write anything significant about it, and putting up a long-ago-written, stored-up-for-crisis review just seemed too cheerful.

So anyway, I’m seriously confused. Or I may have had an epiphany, I don’t know which. I’ve been stressing about eating a lot more than normal lately, mostly because of starting to switch up my nice, comfortable routine of not really eating much during the day and saving it all up at night. So I was surfing around online for advice and came across, not for the first time, YourEatopia.com. Except this time I ended up in the forums and started reading some of the stories posted on the public board, and got so curious that I went and made an account.

And I loved what I saw. People embracing recovery using the MinnieMaud guidelines, outlined here. Sharing the joy of eating a “new” (often, something old disallowed by eating disorders) for the first time. Eating and eating and eating some more, and maybe not feeling the greatest about it, but accepting it as what you need. All these people were so brave, plowing full steam ahead into recovery and trusting the science behind the guidelines.

And the more I read about this system of recovery, the more it makes absolute sense to me. Why should I stop all exercise and unnecessary physical exertion and eat at least 3000 calories per day? It’s really possible to eat upwards of 6,000 during the recovery phase, for days or weeks at a time?

It’s based on the set point theory: Your body has its own “healthy weight,” which varies from person to person, and once it gets there it’s really hard to move it in either direction. If you listen to your body--once you can trust your hunger cues--it will tell you what it needs, maintain its weight even if you splurge every once in a while, and everything works the way it’s supposed to. The site does such a good job of explaining the basis for the calorie guidelines, and the extreme hunger that eventually follows as you stick to the increased intake, as a result of 1) the minimum intake for a non-ED person (which in my case would be around 3,000 for a 5’4” young [under 25] woman) and 2) all the energy needed to repair the damage done by, in my case, years of destructive eating and exercise habits.

I have to admit, the night I found this site I was all gung ho and ready to go for it. The idea of restoring my metabolism to that of a normal young person, of letting go of ALL food rules and obsessions, of eating WHATEVER the hell I wanted whenever I wanted, and--yes, I’ll admit it--hypermetabolism and extreme hunger and eating a Michael Phelps diet without all that training--just beckoned to me. I felt like I could do it. Like I would do it. Because I want it SO BAD.

And that lasted all of about a minute, until I started letting my ED think. And then it just seemed too scary, too terrifying to contemplate trying all that alone. What would I fill the extra time with? Especially in the evenings; I have trouble with evenings. There’s no one here to play a game or watch TV with, or even just lay around complaining about how stuffed we feel (which really can be cathartic, I have to admit). No one to cry to when I inevitably start feeling and hating the weight gain, because that’s still my main fear. I don’t fear physically eating that much food, I pretty much do that every day right now. But I can’t really contemplate letting go of the exercise, even though I’m starting to feel like it’s a way to “manage” my weight gain--which is, ultimately, ED taking control.

But YE also explains how exercise interferes with recovery and can actually raise your set point and make your body hold on to fat longer. Which was also scary in its own way, and sent me into more confusion, but maybe in a good way? I can’t be sure yet.

Then again, two months ago I couldn’t contemplate not spending pretty much the entire day exercising. At least, not while still eating this much. I mean, I swacked over three hours off my exercise time back in May, so how much of a difference would it make now? And it’s not like I haven’t gained weight. Here’s me the day after I had my first emotional breakdown:


And 10 pounds later, now:


Please excuse the sweat and the fact that it’s a public bathroom...I don’t have a full-length mirror at home, and the past couple of days have been oppressively hot and humid. :)

Or take these two, from the day I decided to recover and the day we loaded the moving van:



Point is, I don’t really look that different. In fact I like my face a lot more and I look a lot healthier now, although part of that may be the tan I’m getting down here in North Carolina! But I’m still leery of putting on another 10, 20, 30...who knows where my body’s set point is, or whether I’ll overshoot? So call it fear of the unknown.

Then...and I’m ashamed to admit...I really have no idea how to eat like a normal person. I don’t necessarily mean normal amounts, because obviously that doesn’t apply here. But I’m at a loss as to what my breakfast would be. Lunch? Dinner? What do normal people keep in their kitchens? I want a role model to come live with me, to have meals with me. To go out to eat with me and explore all the great food down here. Just so I can observe someone naturally eating--and, yes, to have someone to hold me accountable and to lean on. I want my mom to cook my food and just eat what
’s put in front of me like a kid again.


But, it’s just me and I’ll have to push my own way through. I’ve considered inpatient again, but it really doesn’t appeal to me with so much emphasis on the “right” foods. I’ve considered going back home and trying this there, with more support, but I just started working and I would feel like a failure if I had to leave already. I’m meeting my therapist tomorrow, and I plan to really talk with her about this. She’s the expert, after all, so I’m hoping she’ll have some suggestions for coping and tailoring the plan for me. I really need to think before I dive in. See, with ED there are two options. Either you kick it or it kills you. Or you have some other condition that kills you, but either way you die with it. That’s not what I want. I just need to wrap my head around it and think about whether I can handle it. But I think I might try it.

One farewell note, a lesson I recently learned: Microwave quesadillas do not work. Think shriveled cheese and cardboard texture. So I leave you to contemplate that while I mull over my own thoughts. You
’re welcome for that cheese and tortilla I just saved you.




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