Thursday, December 19, 2013

I am a sarcastic, bitter and damn lucky buffalo, sorry.

So the start of recovery really really sucks. You go through it and it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life. You’re scared of going forward and scared of going back and sick of staying where you are. I remember that really well and right now I wish I could go back and to the start of my true recovery with the knowledge I have now, and do everything right away that I was too scared to do at first. Like giving into the extreme hunger. Eating lots of food earlier in the day. Becoming totally sedentary.

But I’m approaching five months now (in two more days!) and it sucks in a totally different way.

On the whole I’m happier than I can remember being in years. I have faith in this process and I know it will work, whether it takes a year or two or three or more, whether my set point is naturally high or not.

The sucky part now is other people. (Not all other people!)

I’m fairly sure most of this stems from my inability to form a coherent argument. And the fact that I hate contradicting people.

So when people try to tell me I am unhealthy because of my size, my arguments usually consist of either not saying anything when they ask “Do you know what I mean?” or shrugging and making this really weird face, or “Maaaybe...” Most of them don’t care, they just keep talking, because, well, I’m unhealthy.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate the fact that all my bloodwork is TOTALLY NORMAL for the first time in I don’t know how many years? And that BMI is totally arbitrary and IMO definitely not something to be applied in the case of recovery from restrictive eating disorders.

So, I am unhealthy by one number.

If that number was my height, would anyone say anything? No. Height is inherited, our bodies maintain our height because it is the right height for our bodies.

Well, weight is the same way.

I might also remind you that the “normal” BMI range actually does not have the lowest mortality rate. So when you ask an overweight person to diet, you are increasing their likelihood of dying. Great, just great. Would you prescribe someone a medicine with those statistics? “Here, take this pill, you might die sooner, yay!”

I refuse to “take control” or whatever. It’s the opposite. I’m five months in. Average length of recovery is 18 months. The Minnesota Starvation Experiment lasted six months and it took one man three years before his body got back to the way it was before starvation. That includes overshooting and tapering, appetite regulation, repair...well, everything that comes with recovery from an ED.

So should I be totally fine and dandy in not even five months? Uh, right. I’ll work on that. Because I can totally control this process and come out the other side in remission. Ugh.

I can’t. I need this process, I need to see it through. If I stop now, I will never learn to trust my body. I will never learn that it can regulate itself fine without my interference. My hunger cues are still wacky, and you think ignoring them is going to help sort them out?

Why do you think treatment centers have such a high relapse rate? It can’t be the “OK you’ve gained enough weight, now you can cut your calories and maintain,” because cutting calories and avoiding weight gain is not an ED thing at all. I don’t know one person with an ED who does that. (/sarcasm)

I’m sorry. I don’t know where all this bitterness is coming from. Maybe seeing people relapse because of comments that are much less direct. Sometimes I ask myself why the hell am I so trigger-proof, not once has anything made me relapse. (Knock wood.) I feel so many majority recoverers would have by now. I watch people crumbling at the same things that have been said to me and I realize how lucky I am and wonder why, why me? Why not everyone else too? What exactly does it take to get through all of this shit and come out the other side, and why do some people have it and not others?

I’m scared. Scared for everyone out there facing these same doubters and questioners and giving up because of it. It’s like swimming against a riptide.

Am I just a lucky little buffalo? Maybe I am. Or maybe I am just a stubborn little buffalo stuck in my own opinions. And maybe I offend those of you that I tune out, but please don’t take it personally. Or do, I don
’t know. At this point it’s just a survival mechanism. Because I want to come out the other side.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

On HLBs...

“Healthy living bloggers,” that is. This post is not aimed at every single one of them, and I’m not going to get into what I think of “healthy living” in general. Whatever floats your boat, there are some people that this kind of stuff really works for, it motivates them, and they are not destructive.

I do, however, take issue with the number of these bloggers who are actually disordered. Can we just call them DLBs? (There are so many fitting words that start with D, I just can’t help my immature self.)

Eating disorders are a serious thing. I don’t want to undermine these people’s struggles. And I certainly don’t blame them or feel badly towards them because they have an eating disorder. Or because they are not actively recovering. It’s your life, not mine, and I can’t tell you how to live it.

BUT. It’s one thing to struggle with an ED in private. It’s another completely to parade it around the internet, pretend you are healthy and that everything you do is healthy and “OK,” and take tons of proud pictures of your emaciated body.

This type of thing is so scary to me. Lots of people follow these blogs and leave compliments and encouragement and actually buy into the “look how healthy I am” crap. Yes, you’re very healthy when you exercise for 5+ hours a day, fuel for a marathon with a salad the night before, and eat only squash drowned in cinnamon. Or go on and on about how you know you need to gain weight and want to gain weight, eat a couple egg whites for a meal and add tough cardio to your plan.

These are the kind of things I did when I was at the worst of my disorder.

Again, I’m not blaming these people for those actions specifically. It’s them posting all this crap about “I’m fine, look at me, I’m all recovered and still stick thin and everything is sunshine and rainbows!” or “I’ve never had an eating disorder in my life, I just love lettuce and running and I am a fitness instructor!” And deleting comments that say as much, only letting through positive affirmations of their “lifestyles.” They are normalizing eating disorders like it’s not life threatening. It is.

These women (yes they are mostly women) look like death, yet they have a legion of followers who are probably being sucked into their own eating disorders thanks to the blogs. How many other people’s eating disorders have been their responsibility?

First off, this is not directed at all bloggers with EDs. I mean, I’m guilty of keeping a blog throughout the worst of my ED and now recovery. And if you really want me to, I will gladly get off your internets because the last thing I want to do is be the trigger for someone’s ED. But I never really posted about my worst when I was at my worst, and I at least knew that what I was doing was killing me.

There is a difference between blatant refusal to admit there is a problem and saying yes, I am struggling. There is a difference between taking thousands of pictures of “recovery/recovered” (read: disordered) meals and saying, I still am not allowing myself to eat and so I am seeking help. There is a difference between flaunting your ED and cautioning others against it.

I understand that having an eating disorder goes hand-in-hand with being in denial, but there is also a sense of shame that goes with most of them. I’m not saying you should be ashamed of having an eating disorder, because that is absolutely ridiculous.

I have not talked about my whole background with eating disorders (I don’t know if I will someday, I doubt if enough people are actually interested in that, and I doubt how helpful it would be to others trying to recover). Partly because it goes back probably seven or eight years and it is daunting (not to mention I don’t remember everything). But also because I am not proud of it, and I am afraid of triggering people.

The point is that I would never have admitted to my habits when I was at my worst. Even then I knew they weren’t normal, and I hid them from everyone except those that had to know. I didn’t throw them up on the internet because that would have meant admitting I had a problem. Which I was not ready to do, even if I knew it deep down.

But apparently the world is so disordered now that I would have been “normal” to a ton of people. Who knows, I could have gotten thousands of followers and sponsorships from companies and free stuff that I would never eat. That’s how this stuff seems to work.

It’s scary. The number of people that think this is “normal” behavior and that these DLBs look “great” or their food is “yum” makes me want to crawl in a hole and give up trying to spread sanity over the internet because, well, it’s like trying to remain grounded in the middle of a tornado.

I would love nothing more than to block these blogs from everyone’s internet, especially the vulnerable population teetering on the edge of disorder/relapse. But I can’t. That’s not my responsibility, as much as I wish it was; it’s theirs.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Real Me

I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving! It was a tough couple of days, mostly because everyone seemed so small. In fact everything seemed smaller than I remember it, including the shower and the sink. So it was like being reminded almost every second how big I am now. But some really good things also happened, and I learned the true value of the saying, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Luckily I spent the whole holiday break with people who matter. And now that I’m back I just don’t really give a shit anymore. I know I will end up where I’m meant to be.

Which is sort of a segue into what I really wanted to talk about: Relationships.

I was in middle school when I started trying to change who I was. I’ve never really felt completely comfortable around people. There were friends and there were family, and the main difference was the ease with which I talked and acted. I’ve always felt embarrassed about being in a close relationship with someone outside of family, like I needed to be someone else because I was just too odd and I needed to be someone else in order to contribute.

So last year (or really 6 months ago even), in the depths of my ED, when all I wanted to do was isolate myself, it was even worse. I had my best friend, my friend for life, I didn’t need anyone, and I didn’t want anyone.

I was afraid to be close to anyone.

There were still people who wanted to do stuff with me that year. (You know who you are, there were like two of you and you deserve a medal!)

Ironically, it’s these people who I feel as comfortable with now as I do with my family. For two reasons, both stemming from the fact that I wanted to push everyone away.

The first is obvious--I was not a very nice friend to have. I like to think I’m nicer to be around now.

The second reason is, well, I was myself. As much of myself as was left, anyway. When people pursued close relationships, what better way to push them away than to be myself?

Now it’s different. I used to only sing in front of my family, but that has changed. I’m not afraid to be me for fear of pushing people away, and I’m not being myself in order to push them away. I’m being myself because that’s who I am, and that’s OK.

So if you knew me then, you really did know me. And you matter. :)