Last night after I got home from group. One of my roommates and I used my Cocoa-Latte for the first time. It is one of the presents that I got over the weekend for my birthday (there is a picture of me with it in an earlier blog post). And when I looked through the recipes as we were deciding which one to make, I noticed that all of them called for milk (instead of water) to be used!
My first reaction was "Milk!? I don't put milk in my hot chocolate! It makes it more fattening and besides, why use milk when I can use water - which will not add extra calories to the drink!" I really really struggle with "extra calories." I still to this day, have a really tough time "adding" things to foods when I consider it unnecessary. Even though, it will make the food taste a lot better. The eating disorder has had convinced me for so long that bland, plain food tastes just as good... and in reality - it doesn't. It's just another lie that the eating disorder has you believe as it's slowly killing you little by little... And when I think about it logically, of course these latte drink recipes have you put milk in it - because it makes it taste better. Duh! But I am so used to adding water to my hot chocolate - not milk. At least, that is what my eating disorder has told me was the better option for years and years and... anyways, so here I am with a choice: Do I do what my eating disorder wants (and thinks is healthier and more "safe") or do I pick the choice that will make this drink taste so much yummier? I picked the milk! I listened to my voice and not the eating disorders voice (that was screaming in my head & making me feel guilty about the choice I was making, by the way). And we enjoyed our creamy cocoa latte with honey & cinnamon. Mmm, it really was yummy(!) and it would not have tasted very good if it had been prepared with water. It was a simple thing. Milk in my hot chocolate. Most people prefer milk over water anyways. Especially when you are making these yummy latte drinks. And even though there were feelings of guilt because of the choice I made. I still drank it. And I drank the whole glass. And then I sat down and watched a movie with my roommates. And I didn't try to compensate and burn some calories afterwards. I just sat there. I took deep breathes and kept reminding myself that I made the right choice, no matter what thoughts were running through my head. Because I knew deep down, that I made the choice that tasted better, and I made the choice to not let the eating disorder dictate how to prepare my food. That is something that my eating disorder is sooo good at! And when I allow itto prepare my food... well, let's just say it's not good. It's very rigid and strict. And there aren't a whole lot of choices or options when your eating disorder is choosing how you prepare and eat your food. The morale of this story is that sometimes, recovery is simply just putting butter on your toast or mayo on your sandwich, or putting some dressing on your salad, or choosing the creamy sauce for your pasta instead of the "safer" tomato-based kind, eating the regular version of something instead of the low-fat or fat-free option, or putting a bit of cream cheese on your bagel... or putting milk in your hot chocolate. Even though those things are simple - to some people, like me, they still can be overwhelming, unnatural, and sometimes straight-up terrifying. But the more that we do them, and the more that we challenge the eating disorder beliefs and thoughts - the more natural they will become to us. But you have to challenge them because your food fears aren't just going to magically go away. It sure would be nice if they did but, it takes hard work, commitment, and constantly fighting those thoughts and doing the opposite of what the eating disorder has had you believe for so long. And little by little, the food fears, rules, and behaviors will start to go away. I have seen that in my own recovery with some things that I thought I could never ever(!) eat without feeling completely out of control - yet, I am able to eat them. And not only eat them, but enjoy them. And it's wonderful! It truly is.
I didn't have therapy yesterday because my therapist is out this week, but I did have a doctor's appointment yesterday. And it went really well in regards to my weight and my labs. I have gained a couple more pounds and am now just a few more pounds away from my goal weight. And then, the plan is for me to work really hard at maintaining that weight (as that has always been a struggle for me throughout my recovery). I want to be happy. I want to be proud of myself for finally getting myself back up to a healthy weight. But I am struggling with that because what I mostlyfeel is panic, embarrassment, fear, & guilt...I am not the "jenn" that I am used to. My face and my body look different. My body feels different...feels fat. And I don't like it. I am not comfortable with it. At all!
I am trying so very very hard to stay positive and rational about it all. I am constantly trying to remind myself of all the positive things about being at a healthy weight & eating properly like...
I have the energy to be able to function throughout the day.
My mental clarity is so much better.
I don't feel like I am going to pass out constantly.
My electrolytes are more in balance.
I am actually present in conversations and in daily life instead of a walking "zombie."
I am not so dang freezing cold all of the time.
My hair & skin is looking a lot better.
My body is healing and becoming stronger every day.
We also talked about all the health problems I have because of the ed. My labs are looking a lot better! Some of the health problems are improving. Some are slowly improving but not quite there yet. And some won't. Ever. But the important thing to remember right now is that I am getting stronger and healthier every day, and even though there is a lot of permanent damage that I have caused my body... there are some things that can and are getting better. And I am grateful for that.I am alive, and I am thriving! And I am waking up to life again!
Also, I am going back to my old support group tonight. I haven't been there since earlier this year. And I really shouldn't have stopped going considering the horrible relapse I had over the summer but... I was running away. It was around that time that my previous therapist had "abandoned" me (if you have followed this blog for a while, you know what I am talking about regarding that whole situation...) and I had a lot of hurt feelings and so, I completely quite treatment. Therapist, dietician, doctors, groups - I stopped everything.Because I was hurt. I was angry. I was so tired of having non-stop intensive treatment for so long and it didn't seem like it was going to end anytime soon... and when my therapist "peaced-out" on me - that was kind of the final straw.
But I am not going to go into all of this again because it's in the past and I am trying to let go of that whole situation and move forwards! So, I am not going to talk about that right now. And besides, I have a new therapist that I have been seeing since the beginning of the fall and I think she will be really good for me - as long as I am able and "willing" to open up and do the work I need to do in my recovery treatment plan.
So I am excited to see old friends (and meet new ones) tonight at group! I am excited to get more of the support that I need from groups again. And hopefully, be able to support the other girls there too. Recovery is about letting people in, and letting people help you - not pushing them away and trying to do it on your own. I have learned that the hard way too many times. You show strength when you ask for help, not weakness!
A few of mybest friends and I right before we left to go out to celebrate my birthday on Saturday night. We had SO much fun, and laughed so much at the comedy club we went to!
these are some of themost amazing gals, who's love and friendship has truly helped save me and they have been there for me throughout the ups & downs of my recovery - I am lucky & blessed to have them as my friends. Seriously!
My family and I celebrated my birthday, on Sunday (which is my actual birthday).
I love my neices and nephews...and here are just some of the adorable troublemakers! (lol)
smiling in every picture is soooo boring so... funny face time y'all!! Here is just one of the many fabulous gifts that I got. I sure do love my hot chocolate, coffee, & my tea! And now I can make so many more delicious flavors to share with others and enjoy myself... yummy! ; )
make a wish!!
(don't ask about the cake...it's a long story. but bless my momma's heart for trying to do something different even though it didn't quite work)
It was a great weekend full of lots of surprises and so much love from many of my family and friends! Thanks everyone for
showing a girl how special and loved she truly is.
At the end of my last post, I mentioned that even though there are a lot of things that I still struggle with... there are some things that I am doing right when it comes to my recovery. So, I want to continue with that thought and talk about one of the major things that has changed recently for me. I believe that is it SO very important to be constantly reminding yourself of the things that you are doing right, the things you are improving on, the recovery successes, and the times that you are able to let another part of the ed go - because the ed is such a master manipulator at making you forget those things and only reminding you of all the things that you are doing wrong, and always telling you how worthless you are. But it's not true! We all have so much worth, and so much to live for! And I am starting to s l o w l y believe that about myself. And those times that I don't believe it, are the times that I am letting the ed control my thoughts, emotions, & feelings. And that is something that I am working on. It's painful & it's scary - but I am working on it. But at the same time, I know that I am holding a lot of things inside still. My recovery started almost 4 years ago, and throughout this time, I have said that I want recovery and I want to get better - but I have only allowed myself (or my treatment team) to delve only so far into the things that keep me holding on to the ed before I panic and, once again, close myself off from those parts of therapy. Because I am afraid, and because it hurts. It's so much easier to numb all that out with the ed. Ed's are tricky things because they are painful and they hurt but at the same time, they are comforting, familiar, and "safe". Or at least, that is what the ed has been so good at convincing us of. I need to somehow find a way to be strong enough to forgive myself, I need to learn to love myself, and I need to let go of the things that have happened in the past. I need to heal that young girl who gravitated towards the ed for a sense of control, comfort, and distraction in a world that she felt was spinning out of control! I need to do that to be able to really let go of the ed for good and live a "life worth living." One of the positive things in my life recently has been the re-emergence & improvement in my social life. Throughout my illness, I have gone back and forth between being social, having friends, and loving to go out and have fun, and always being super busy - to isolating and just wanting to be "alone with the illness." And different levels in-between those two extremes. But lately, I seem to be a lot more busy and I am going out more with friends and having fun hanging out, laughing, enjoying time with the people I love! And also, going out and experiencing life - instead of hiding away and numbing out the world. Which is good. It is really good! (because when I am struggling and consumed with the ed, I tend to isolate a lot and push people away, and I tend to spend a lot of time by myself so I can engage in the behaviors and live in my "own little world.") And another positive thing that I have been noticing lately is that I will pick doing things and hanging out with people (even if its just being at home with my roommates downstairs in the kitchen or family room instead of up in my room alone) rather than engaging in behaviors. Which is a really good sign thatI am more in the driver's seat right now instead of the ed. I still do have those days when I listen to the ed, agree with the ed, and end up staying home and isolating when it is telling me things like...
"you haven't exercised today so you need to stay home and make sure you get your exercise in!"
"you've already eaten too much today (in the ed's opinion, because it will tell me that even when I have barely eaten) so you can't go out, or if you do, you need to make sure you don't eat anything!"
"you are too fat, too gross, too worthless and you will just embarrass yourself if you think you deserve to go out and have fun!"
"no one would care if you went or not, they would probably have more fun if you weren't there!"
But thankfully, they aren't happening as often as they sometimes do. And even though those thoughts are always in my head, I also feel like I am in a better place in my recovery to fightoff those thoughts more often than listening to them and obeying them. And I realize that those thoughts above sound really harsh and really demanding - but these are the kinds of things (along with many many many many many more things!) that the ed has been constantly telling me since I was younger. So it's really hard for me to not believe these things when I have heard them, listened to them, and believed them for so long.
But thankfully, I have amazing roommates, who are also some of my closest friends, and I have amazing friends and family too(!) who won't let me be alone, and they push me to go out and have fun during times when I am struggling and just want to be alone. I love my roommates, my friends, and my family because somehow they can see me through all of this madness. And I am grateful for them. I have lost too many people in my life because the ed got in the way. I don't want to lose anyone else, and I hope to be able to mend some of the relationships that have been destroyed or torn because I have chosen the ed instead of them... So the point of this blog post today is to say that - jenn is being more social and having more fun! And more importantly... jenn is wanting to be (and allowing herself to be) more social and have more fun! Yippee for recovery, for moving forward, and for choosing life instead of the eating disorder! ; )
The other day while I was waiting for one of my roommates to finish getting ready so we could leave, I started running up and down the stairs at our house. Why, you ask? Because I am constantly feeling the urge to burn extra calories, give my metabolism a little jump-start, calm some of my anxiety, relieve some of the guilt I feel about eating and weight gain... I don't always give in to the urges (some days are better than other days) and I am not exercising nearly as much as I used to, but little things like this seem to help me so that I don't over-exercise (usually...) - if that makes any sense. And so I find little ways throughout the day to do this. I realize that this is not normal behavior and that it is compulsive, and I am reminded of that every time someone sees me engaging in a behavior (or doing something odd) and points it out to me. Like that night, as I was running up and down the stairs, three of my roommates each asked me what I was doing. I immediately felt embarrassed because I realized that this was not normal behavior, and it was a really random thing to be doing at that particular moment. I have spent over half of my life engaging in ed behaviors that are not normal, so I should be used to it. But I'm not. I know I need to stop these weird exercise habits that I do throughout the day, but I feel like I am trying to stop soooo many behaviors that I have had for soooo long and sometimes, I need to pick and choose my battles, you know? Another reason why I feel the need to have these little mini exercise spurts throughout the day is because I am really struggling with the weight gain and I notice that sometimes, it makes eating a littlebit easier. For example, last night I had dinner with my parents. I was feeling super anxious about what I ate, so I ran on their elliptical machine for 15 minutes (which is not over-exercising, by the way) and I felt a little less anxious and a little less guilty about what I had had for dinner. But like I said, I am not over-exercising like I used too. There are still those days that I get up early to get a good workout in before work, or those days that I take extra extra long walks (and justify it by telling myself "at least I am only walking and not running!...") but for the most part, I am able to quiet the voice in my head with my mini exercises throughout the day. I just wish there wasn't a voice I had to constantly be trying to quiet. : ( And I hate the anxiety, the fear, the guilt that causes me to feel socompelled to quickly do jumping jacks in the elevator at work. Or to take 30 minute walks outside every day during my lunch break. Or constantly be fidgeting and moving around. Or standing up (or exercising a little) while I'm reading or watching tv. Or anytime I am alone, quickly jog in place or do some jumping jacks or sit-ups for a few minutes... I could go on and on about things that I do, but I will leave it at that and just say that I wish the ed wasn't constantly in my head telling me that I need to be burning calories! It's frustrating. It's embarrassing. And it's not helpful to my recovery. But like I said, some days are better than other days. So I need to give myself credit for the things I am doing right.
Last night, I went with one of my friends to see The Forgotten Carols. I got the tickets a few weeks ago and have been anxiously awaiting this day to come! It is a musical/play that has been around for 19 years. Here is a brief synopsis about it:
A timeless classic, Michael McLean's The Forgotten Carols have been enjoyed by sold-out audiences nationwide. The Forgotten Carols tells the story of a nurse whose empty life is changed when a new patient recounts the story of Christ's birth as told by little known characters in the nativity story. The accounts from the Innkeeper, the Shepherd and others help her discover what the world has forgotten about Christmas, and open her heart to the joy of this special season.
I am familiar with the story and the songs as I have heard it read, and listened to the cd for many years during the Christmas season (as it is a tradition a lot of my friends have with their families) but I have never seen the actual live performance. And I loved it!! It brings a special spirit into the auditorium and into your heart. I am a fan of Michael Mcclean's and have been every since I was a young girl. (he is a very well-known and popular singer/songwriter in the LDS faith). I was really thankful for the opportunity to finally see this play live and I hope to make it a tradition of my own to go and see this play in person (not just read the book or listen to the cd) every year during Christmas from now on. And when I have a family of my own, I hope to take my children to see this play. It's that special and heartwarming. It brings nothing but warmth, peace, & hope to the people who see it.
Yesterday in therapy we talked about all the progress that I have been making these past few months, and my therapist said that as long as I am maintaining and continuing to make progress with the rest of the weight that I need to gain to reach my goal weight/ my body's natural set point she is okay with this continuing to be my treatment plan:
seeing her once a week
only seeing my doctor once or twice a month,
start going to a couple of groups every week again (to get that added support & motivation I need to keep me moving forward)
and she is okay with me not seeing a dietician right now
but if I start to slip too much... then she says that will all change! And I have to say, that is really has felt strange to be cutting back on my treatment schedule as drastically as I have, because ever since I started my recovery - I have, at the most intense been inpatient, and at the least intense been seeing a therapist, dietician, & doctor every single week (along with a couple of groups every week). But... she feels, and I feel like I am doing okay enough, and I am stable & strong enough mentally and physically to continue my treatment plan the way I have been for the past little bit. So it's good. It's really good! It gives me confidence to know that I have been able to do as well as I have been without needing the intense treatment that I am so used to.
I have gained a little over 20 pounds since the end of the summer, and I only have about 5 to 6 more pounds to go before I am at my treatment team's goal weight for me. And let me just say that this has not been easy. At all! It has been a rough few months, and I would be lying if I said that I was comfortable with this weight gain. I am struggling so much with my body image, and there isn't a day that goes by that I am not consumed with the thoughts of wanting to lose this weight... but I am holding on, I am leaning on friends, family, & my treatment team for support - and I hope that things will get easier the longer I am able to maintain this "new healthy" body. But I have been able to push myself and do it, and that is a big deal for me because the last time I able to be at a healthy weight (even though it was only temporary) was August 2008. I just gotta keep fighting, and keep reminding myself that I am allowing my body to reach a healthy weight, that I am allowing my body to heal from all the horrible damage I have caused it, and I choosing recovery and life by letting my body reach a healthy weight. I have been doing really well with the weight gain and pretty well with the behaviors, but I need to work more on the underlying issues that caused the eating disorder to develop (and continue) in the first place - because if I don't completely allow myself to work through, process, & heal those things - then this progress I am making is not going to last and I will continue to go around in circles... I just really struggle with this because I am not good at coping with and "feeling my feelings." Every time I start to get close to honestly work on the underlying issues - I get too scared and I start to retreat and run away. But if I want to truly be able to let go of the ed and move on with my life, then I need to! And I know that... I am just scared. : (
A few days ago, I went with a friend to see the movie Burlesque - (which was really good, by the way!) And Cher sang a song that really moved me and gave me chills - because I feel like every single word in this song describes me, my life, & especially my journey to finding recovery, perfectly. I love it!, and the words are so powerful. My eating disorder has brought me to my knees, it has brought me past the point of breaking, and it hasliterally been life-threatening many many times...but I am still here. And even though I may not know quite why yet... there is a reason. As as I continue to heal, as I continue to find that strength, hope, and peace that I long for - I will come to truly believe that I can let go of the past, I do deserve to be happy, I do deserve to love and be loved. That I do matter, and that I am "enough" just the way I am. I am not perfect but I am still fighting. I am in the fight of my life, for my life! I am determined to find recovery for myself - and to also use my story, my struggles, my experiences to help others who are struggling to find their own way out of this illness.
"You Haven't Seen The Last of Me"
Barely holding on
But just there's something so strong
Somewhere inside me.
And I am down, but I'll get up again.
Don't count me out just yet
I've been brought down to my knees
And I've been pushed right past the point of breaking,
But I can take it.
I'll be back -
Back on my feet
This is far from over
You haven't seen the last of me.
You haven't seen the last of me.
Say that I won't stay around
I gonna stand my ground
You're not gonna stop me.
You don't know me, you don't know who I am.
Don't count me out so fast
I've been brought down to my knees
And I've been pushed right past the point of breaking,
But I can take it.
I'll be back -
Back on my feet
This is far from over
You haven't seen the last of me.
There will be no better
This is not the end
I'm better now
And I'll be standing on top again.
Times are hard but I was built tough.
I'm gonna show you all what I'm made of.
I've been brought down to my knees
I've been pushed right past the point of breaking,
A new challenge, goal, assignment, experience... that I will be working on in treatment is to learn how to cook and bake! I have had a very unhealthy & distorted relationship with food since I was 13 years old and I am hoping that through learning to cook (from planning the menus, buying the groceries, preparing the food, doing the actual cooking, sitting down and eating the meal, ect) it will be another way I am able to continue to heal and strengthen my relationship with food.
My mom & I got me a recipe book that is simple but also has some challenging ones too. And then as I progress, I will move on to more difficult recipes - but I need to start out s l o w l y because this is really going to be challenging for me and it's going to cause lots of uneasiness, discomfort, & anxiety for me on so many levels!!! I was never one of those anorexics who loved to cook all the time for other people. I am the complete opposite. I tend to have a lot of anxiety, panic, & fear when I am around food.Throughout my illness I was always in fear that people would force me to eat things that weren't one of my "safe" foods and so my solution to that was to just avoid food, cooking & social situations that involved food as much as I could...(it sounds pretty lonely, I know - but it was, and it still is but it's how I coped with my life and my emotions & feelings) and that is one of the biggest reasons why I have never really learned how to cook, and why this is going to be a big challenge for me! But that is also why I need to do this challenge. To conquer my food demons. My fears. And take more steps towards freedom and recovery! So...
I am nervous.
But I am excited!
So here I go!!
A few days ago, I cooked, well baked, my first recipe. I picked creamy mango loaf cake. I picked it because mango is one of my favorite fruits! Mmm, I love me some mangos! It also seemed fairly simple and... okay,confession time... it was a fat free recipe (I know what y'all are going to say - but I already feel guilty about it. I am not proud of the fact that I let the ed in so easily on the very first recipe. But all of this cooking stuff overwhelms me and making something that was fat free was how I calmed the anxiety I was feeling! I am not saying it was the right way, but it was what I did. But it's over. I can't change it. I can only "do the next right thing." ) Anyways, I went to the store and picked up the ingredients and then headed over to my parents house where my mom was there to supervise and support me in the beginnings of this new journey. She also proudly got out her camera to capture this rare moment on film! LOL. Seriously though, I think it's a bit exciting for her to see this daughter of hers (who has struggled so much) actually in the kitchen surrounded by food, cooking, learning, and trying to enjoy the whole experience of it instead of running off somewhere else trying to avoid food and everything about it! I will get there mama... I will!!
Except for the fat free nonsense & a bit a anxiety (which was expected) - the first attempt was a success! The parents were more than happy to sample the finished product, and so were my roommates when I brought it home! Yippee! I am so glad that it tasted good and people liked it! I even had a slice of it myself!! And I have to say... it was delicious :)
I did it!! --- Tonight, I am planning on attempting garlic lime shrimp pasta. And on the menu for this next week is:
I am in the process of trying to find a new treatment team. And it's definitely a process. But I feel like I need a change, a new direction from where my old tx was leading me. I am also hesitant because it's been a few months (since I suddenly stopped...er....quit treatment) and I don't want to become too dependent on treatment again like I have in the past (and a couple of the last tx relationships ended kind of badly, as some of you might remember- and it still kinda hurts) but I also understand & recognize that I do need to be back in the care of a treatment team right now to make sure I get back on track medically, nutritionally, emotionally... until I am able to take care of myself better in these areas. I want desperately to be strong enough in my own recovery (and as a regular every day functioning adult...hello!) to NOT have to rely on treatment but I am also aware that as I am taking this huge step forwards in my recovery - I am going to NEED the support of a really good treatment team behind me. Because there are still behaviors that I am struggling with right now. And feelings that are and will be coming to the surface that I am not prepared to face. And I know I am going to need their support, guidance, & care as I let go of the hurt I have held inside for soooo long. I am going to be facing some things that are painful. And it's going to hurt. Alot. And I am afraid. But I will face them! And I will "feel the fear and do it anyway!"Because only through healing, letting go of the pain,and learning to"feel my feelings" is how I am going to truly break away from the powerfully strong grasp that this illness has on me. It's the only way. But then, finally, I will break through to the other side. The side that has been waiting for me to find the courage to fight through all the fears & the yuckiness. The side I have felt I could never belong to - because I felt I was forever trapped inside this life of food & weight & control... I am nervous about facing some truths at the doctors office. Not really looking forward to this one. At all. Like I said, it's been a few months since I have been in any sort of treatment or medical care, which means, it's been a while since I have had any blood work or labs done. And despite all of my hard work and effort during these past few months in trying to reach and maintain a healthy weight(and I WAS actually starting to make progress in this area, by the way) - this recent relapse has caused my weight to drop back down pretty low again. Plus, all of the usual physical signs & symptoms - I know my labs & blood work can't be that great...so... it's time to face the music. Put on my brave face and admit that "yes, I have once again failed, but I am picking myself back up, dusting myself off, and trying again." So even though I might be further back than I would like to be, it's okay. Because I know I am going to be okay. Things are going to turn around, things are going to get better. I have an amazing family who loves me. They reminded me of that during our family vacation recently. They can see through the illness to that girl I have always been. That girl who has been lost, struggling to break free... they can see her. They have never stopped loving her, and they have never stopped fighting for her! And I have amazing friends who love me, support me, and just want their friend "jenn" back. I want her back too! I just need to find her. And I will!
i want to scream and shout it from the rooftops! i want to dance in the rain and cry endless tears of relief and joy! i feel like something inside me has awakened. i feel God, and i feel Him whispering to me that "it's okay now to LET GO..." of the things that have kept me clinging to the eating disorder for so long. i feel like i have finally received an answer to the desperate prayer that has been in my soul for SO many years. and i feel like now, i am finally ready to start letting go of the anorexia, and start reaching out to LIFE! and i think i am going to finally be able to start letting go. i am ready to finally start moving on and TRULYbegin to heal. i am ready to find MY own voice - so i can start to sing my song again. i don't want to go into too many details right now (most of it happened during a family vacation a week ago, and since then) because these feelings are all still SO new and overwhelming to me (and i am sooooo afraid that these feelings are going to suddenly just disappear almost as quickly as they came into my life) - but i just wanted to say that i am okay, i am hopeful, i am... HAPPY.
It went... pretty well actually. But I am happy and relieved that it is over. I don't like to do food challenges while I am at work because my job is stressful enough! It could have been better, but it also could have been worse! You have to pick and choose your battles, you know?
It didn't start off as I had planned though, because I wanted to go by myself, and then eat by myself but - the other co-workers in my office decided that we should all go together to get our food and then bring it back to our desks. I panicked! This was not in my plans! But I went with them anyways. I did get comments from a couple of my coworkers, but I knew I had things on my plate that were challenging so even though I didn't get as much food as they thought I should have... I knew I was challenging myself and that is what mattered to me.
It did take me longer than it should have to eat. But I did go back to my desk and eat it there (another fear for me).
I did go on a power-walk afterwards to try to burn off some anxiety (...and calories)... But I did eat foods that were scary and I challenged myself instead of running away and ignoring the whole situation!
I don't think I will be doing it again anytime soon - butit was a step in the right direction. So... GO ME!!! I have fallen back too faragain into my "safe foods" that are super restrictive & limited and so it's a challenge to break out of that, once again, but I have done it before and I know I can do it again! It's just going to take time, patience, support, hard work, dedication, and challenging those fears one meal (and snack) at a time!!!
Tomorrow, there is a BBQ during the lunch hours at my work. Normally I would just not go. I would just avoid it. Pretend it's not happening. And just eat my safe food that I brought from home - if I even brought lunch that day - just being honest here... But, I have decided that I am going to use this as my food challenge this week instead of the previously planned 3 donettes. Why the change? Because I think - no, I know - this will challenge me more. And, social events and eating in front of others are things I struggle a lot with. Also, the reason I am even willing to consider this is because over the past couple of months I have been pushing myself to eat fear foods at family BBQ's and get-togethers. So I have already, kind of been working on this. Yes, eating with my family is a lot different. But, I think I am ready to face this challenge.
I probably won't eat it in front of my coworkers (most of them eat their lunches at their desk - but when I take my lunch breaks I usually go outside where I am by myself). But I don't know. Maybe tomorrow, I will find some inner strength to sit at my desk and eat these nerve-wracking foods I am going to try to eat. But I don't want to push myself too much... baby steps, like we planned. Also, I don't want to eat something that will cause major anxiety because I will still be at work at have to function for the rest of the day without the anxiety (or urges to purge) consuming me all afternoon. Because that has happened when my mom has had lunch with me and I have pushed myself too hard - and then had to go back to work... let's just say, I was an emotional wreck and not very productive for the rest of the work day on these occassions. And at these family meals, I have emotionally freaked out every single time because I pushed myself too hard. I don't want that to happen tomorrow. I can't let that happen tomorrow. So I will be cautious but still challenge myself and push myself. But I will confess that I am already obsessing about what I am going to eat. Eating the food is going to be tough but in order to eat the food... I have to actually put it on my plate!
Thanks for all the comments and advice! I was feeling pretty discouraged about the whole thing but y'all helped me to recognize and celebrate the positive but also helped me to realize that I need to take more caution and be better prepared for future challenges. I think it is more difficult for me because this is the first time I am trying to fight this without a treatment team (which I do realize is not the smartest idea, but I still need to try it). I don't have the guidance of my treatment team - at the moment, and that makes things a lot more nerve-wracking for me as I am trying to do it more on my own. But, I have been in treatment long enough to know that this is one of the biggest obstacles that is preventing me from achieving recovery. I don't want to live in fear of food forever. That's not a fun way to live. At all.
One of my goals in recovery is to be able to have a normal relationship with food...wait, back up - I hesitate to say normal because what is normal? The goal I should strive towards is to have a healthy relationship with food. But what is that? What does that mean? Well, to me, it means:
Being able to separate my emotions from food. (this is a huge one for me!)
Letting go of the control over food and my weight!!
Not being so obsessive about what food I can and can't eat
Being able to go to social events without the anxiety about "What am I going to eat?" "What if there is nothing there that I feel comfortable eating?" "What if people make me eat more than I want to?"
Having freedom in my relationship with food.
Listening to my body and what it needs!
Being mindful and intuitive when it comes to eating.
Discovering new foods with excitement (not hesitation or fear).
And understanding that food is meant to
nourish, provide energy, & be enjoyed
Another one of my goals in recovery is to be able to eat these foods without doing any of the following:
1-feeling extreme guilt/regret/fear
2- worrying and freaking out if I think I ate too much
3- feeling the need to purge, overexercise, restrict, take certain pills, or try to compensate the calories I ate in anyshape or form
So, even though my challenge backfired... I am still going to push myself to do food challenges because I need to get past my food fears! I can't get better until I am able to let food just be food!! But like a lot of you have said - maybe I need to go a little slower, take smaller steps, and not overwhelm myself so much that I feel the need & fear to engage in behaviors to cope with the challenge. So. My goal for this week is to eat one hostess donette (those small mini ones) at least three times this week. I think that is going to still be tough, but also do-able without it backfiring like it did on Saturday.
I gave myself a food challenge yesterday but I am having a difficult time figuring out whether it was a success or not....
The challenge:eat popcorn at the movie theater! (and asking for no butter or salt is not allowed, she has to eat it as prepared...omg!)
The details behind this particular challenge:I don't eat movie theater popcorn - it is a huge fear food for me because it is so buttery, salty, fatteni....(I won't finish that word) ButI wanted to challenge myself and try to take a step closer to recovery. Plus, I knew my sister (whom I went to the movie with) would share it with me. There are not very many people that I feel comfortable eating in front of - especially fear foods - but my sister (well my whole family) is one of those people that I do feel comfortable around.
How did it go?:Well, here is where it gets confusing for me. We had planned to go to the movies a few days in advance, so I had time to prepare (and obsess) about this challenge. I didn't eat much (I pretty much didn't eat anything) before we went to the movie which was at 4pm. I was hella nervous. But - I ate the popcorn, and I ate a pretty good amount of it too! Did I enjoy it? I want to say yes, but I don't think I did because it was sooooo buttery and salty and all I could think about was how buttery my hand was from the popcorn! And that all that fat and salt was going to invade my body and find refuge. It was not a mindful experience at all!! I just ate it very mechanically to get it over with. When it was over, I was relieved. So it was a success......right? It's hard to say. The movie (Eclipse) was amazing and thankfully it did a pretty good job of distracting me from what I had just done!
And therefore, I really did have a hard time eating anything else for the rest of the day too. And I felt incredible guilt for eating something like that when I didn't have to, if you know what I mean...When I eat things like this on my "own free will"I STILL feel like I am doing something wrong!I feel guilty for eating it, I feel like it's unhealthy and bad, and I feel like it's going to just make me fat(!!) - because that's what my fear foods have been to me for so long!So... Was it too much? Was I not ready? Did it backfire?? I think it's good that I want to challenge myself. I think it's a step in the right direction. Especially since the variety of foods I am comfortable eating are pretty dang limited right now. But is it good to challenge yourself when it's going to backfire like it did yesterday??? I want to be proud of myself for eating something that is a huge huge fear food for me, but - I didn't really enjoy it because I was too pre-occupied with how calorically fattening it was. But I did it! I didn't back down like I was so tempted to do- because no one forced me to eat it. I didn't have to eat it. I made the choice to eat it. I just also made a lot of other bad choices yesterday too...
Lately, I have been doing a lot of thinking about whether I need to be in treatment right now or not. I mean, I think I am doing okay. I still struggle - but we all struggle, right? I can't always use treatment as a crutch. I can't move on and let go of the anorexia if I am always in treatment, always talking about it, and always surrounded by it. Right?? Yesterday, I had a day off from work, (yippee!) so I went over to my parents house to go grocery shopping and prepare for the family bbq we were having that night. My little sister and brother-in-law are in town from New York and staying with my parents so I was excited to see her too! I mentioned to my momma, when she asked how my looking for a new treatment team was coming along, that I felt like maybe, I didn't need treatment right now. That maybe, just maybe, I am doing okay for once. She just looked at me and rolled her eyes. Then, after the bbq was over and I was ready to leave and go home, my momma pulled me aside and started talking to me about some of the reasons why she feels that I still do need to be in treatment. Some of those reasons being my eating behaviors at the bbq - or any time she sees me eating. I am trying to gain weight. I am eating. So I don't understand why people are still on my case so much about my eating habits. I don't understand. And it upsets me. a lot. I know that I still have severely distorted eating habits, and beliefs towards food. I am still hesitant, very hesitant, and sometimes downright fearful of certain foods (or certain amounts of foods). But I am still in recovery. These things don't just go away. But can people at least give me credit for trying? For eating some of these foods even though they cause me a lot of anxiety & fear? I am eating. Yes, it's limited - not much variety. Yes, I still have a lot of food games I engage in when I eat. Yes, I am still focused too much on my food. But. And this is a huge but... I am eating! I am pushing myself to eat more than I am comfortable with. So why are people still not satisfied?? Why are people still saying that I am not eating enough!?!? I started to get upset and I felt super discouraged. That is not what I wanted to hear. I really thought that she would agree with me. I mean, she is the one who thought that I needed to try to distance myself from treatment and not rely on it so much - so, if she is saying I still need treatment... wtf? I really don't see it... I don't. Am I in denial? I don't think I am. And, it's been nice not being in treatment. It's nice to not always feel like I am getting in trouble, getting lectured, not doing enough in my treatment plan and recovery, ect. It's nice to not have to feel (and delve into) the yucky feelings...
I have been in therapy on and off since middle school, and in intensive treatment for the past three and a half years. When is enough enough?Some people think I need to be in treatment, some people think I am doing okay on my own. Who is right? Or am I just doing a good job of pulling the wool over some people's eyes - and hiding behind the facade of "I am great!" while other people are not being fooled and can see right through it? If that's what I am doing...I must be deceiving myself too. Because I think I am doing okay. I don't think I am doing great(!) - but I think I am doing okay. I have been trying to self-study a bit lately. I have two huge binders overflowing with notes, assignments, workbooks, ect. from the two treatment centers I have been in. Plus other stuff from groups, workshops, other therapists and dieticians I have been to. I have been looking through them, here and there, and pulling out assignments that I think could benefit me at the moment, and I am working on them again. I figure, we have spent a bazillion dollars on my treatment - why not use the resources I have, you know? I think this is working for me right now. I think maybe, it would be good to see a therapist like every other week or something. And maybe a support group... but that is it. I don't want to go back to seeing a therapist, doctor, & dietician every single week again, like people are suggesting. I am tired of treatment. I am tired of the emotional rollercoaster. Because I am not someone who can go to these appointments and talk about the hard stuff and then leave, and go back into the real world without taking those feelings with me. Because I do take it with me. I try not to, but I don't know how to push them back in so quickly after I leave a session or appointment so - those feelings, insecurities, fears stay with me for a while once I open up and let them out -therefore, affecting & disrupting the other parts of my life. When you are inpatient or in hospital - you only focus on your recovery. You don't have to alsocope with and deal with the stress of everyday life. And that makes it - not easy - but easier to work through the illness. I am not saying that I want to go back to IP or hospital. I am just saying that for me, and I know for a lot of others, outpatient can be a lot more intense and difficult because of that reason. And I can't deal with all that comes with treatment right now. I just want to breathe. I just want to be.
Yesterday one of my roommates (Sarah) and I switched bedrooms! Sometimes, this girl likes and needs change - and this is one of those times! I am excited about the new room. I have been in the old one since I moved into the house a little over a year ago, and so this change will be refreshing!
One of the reasons we decided to switch is because my room is downstairs and her room is upstairs. So I am always freezing and turning off the air conditioner - and Sarah is always hot and turning on the air conditioner. So we thought... why not switch rooms? I did have the biggest room in the house so that is another perk for Sarah (LOL), but her room (well, my new room) is the second biggest, and it's actually not that much smaller - so it's still good :)
I am excited to be upstairs where it will be warmer and the bedroom windows are bigger so more sunshine will shine in, and I love that too! So... change can be good! It can!!
Yesterday was craziness! I worked from 6am - 2:30pm. I was going to try to leave earlier but I had so much to do and didn't even get it all done, so I had to come in today too (for a few hours) to finish everything. Then I came home and spent the rest of the day moving and unpacking. Two guys came over to help us move the heavy furniture (which was very much appreciated!) and another one of Sarah's friends also came over to help. It was so tiring because we had to move up and down two flights of stairs over and over and over... I was so tired before we started - and exhausted by the end of the night.
But I am happy and excited about my new room, and I hope Sarah is too! My goal is to have everything unpacked and organized by tonight because this girl hates messes and things being out of place. But I got a ton done yesterday so I think I should be able to finish by tonight. Yippee!
There is one thing I need to confess... My food intake yesterday was not good at all! (it's usually not that great anyways, but struggling to eat combined with all the energy/calories burned yesterday from being so active - aren't good for a girl who is trying to gain weight...note to self: jenn! you know better & you have been in recovery loooong enough - so stop it!! ") And the thing that bugs me the most is that I was loving the fact that I was burning calories and that addicted feeling was seriously out of control! I was getting my endorphins from all the running around and restricting. It was dangerous for me mentally.
Also adding to it was the fact that since I have been gaining weight, I have been struggling so much with my body and body image...a ton!!! So, I welcomed the exercise and the "I'm too busy" excuse when it came to eating... I hate when the ed takes over like that. Seriously. I know I should have eaten. I know I messed up yesterday. I know I mess up most days... But I alsoknow that oneday like that isn't going to really cause any weight loss, and besides, there is a family BBQ on monday that I gots to go to - so I can try to eat a bit more there, maybe. I am not as worried about the weight loss as I am about where things like this put me mentally... does that make sense? But in an attempt to fight off those ed thoughts - I did have an oreo cookie (the new strawberry milkshake ones) at my sister's house when I went over there for a few minutes last night. It tasted pretty good actually - but one was more than enough for me!
Anways, I did have a good day. Despite the stress of work & moving (the stress was mostly from work). And I socialized and talked with my roommates more. Which is something I am trying to work on. I am really good at being by myself and in my "own little world" and I am trying to break out of that. Which reminds me, that is another thing that I am going to like about being upstairs. I won't be as isolated and I will be around my roommates and people more. Less hiding = less opportunity for the ed to tempt me with harmful behaviors. I better go, cause I have got alot to do today, and my break at work is over. But, I have the next two days off from work so... yippee for that!!!
(the reason our house is called "the cottage" is because: the church I attend did a service project there the summer before I moved in. They cleaned up the yard and did a lot of work outside. It's a long story, but somehow it got nicknamed the cottage from the singles ward. There is always a bunch of single girls living in the house (there are six of us!) and it started as a joke and just kind of stuck. Anyways, that probably confused you more so... sorry! LOL).
Now, I just need to say... do not, I repeat, do not tell someone who is recovering from an eating disorder that she is "looking a lot better!" that she "looks better with the extra weight" that she "looks healthier" because as these might be compliments to everyone else - they are not to us. When we get further into recovery and more emotionally stable - those comments sometimes become easier to hear - and understand - in the way that they are intended to (instead of the ed filtered versions). And then there are those lucky ones (whom I hope to one day become!) who have reached those healthy places in recovery (mentally & emotionally) who can take those comments and embrace, love, and appreciate them. It's a natural thing to say. We all say it. Because when people do start to get healthy and regain the weight - they do look a lot better, happier, healthier, ect. But... it can be very very damaging if the person is not ready (emotionally strong enough or healthy enough) to hear these kinds of comments. It can be very damaging to that person and their recovery. All throughout my recovery, as my weight has gone up and down in my attempts to maintain a healthy weight - these comments have always been so triggering and hard for me. We know that they are said with the best of intentions and I don't want anyone to feel bad if they have said these things. I just want to educate and inform people. Because I think people don't realize that for a person with an eating disorder, those kinds of comments get twisted & distorted in our heads and the way we "hear" it is that you are calling us fat. And it's just reaffirming our fears. It's not y'all's fault. You are just the innocent ones in this crazy land of ED madness - but it really is triggering. Because when I already think I am getting fat and I am very aware (probably tooaware) of every pound I gain, and I am struggling with the weight gain...the ED somehow, (that sneaky little bastard!) is so good at twisting things people say... I would actually prefer no comments at all about the way I look. None. But if you feel you must say something - just say it once. Please. Please don't say it over and over... and OVER!! Because the more you say it - the more the ed convinces me that I am getting fat. I know it's irrational and I am working on trying to change these thoughts (logically, I know they are distorted - but emotionally I still tend to believe the filtered (ED replaced) meanings behind things people say...) I am very very sensitive and fragile right now and I don't need everyone around me adding fuel to the raging fire that is my ed. You can comment on my mood or things like that, no problem! For example, one of my roommates the other day said "You seem happier lately." Things like that are great! Just no comments about my body and the fact that it. is. growing. People are always asking how they can help me and support me... this is one of those ways. I hope this made sense and didn't confuse some of you even more... I know that ed's can be confusing, frustrating, & irrational (because they are to us too!) to people who aren't struggling with them. It's really hard to make sense from an illness that doesn't make sense...