On March 3, I went to my first AA meeting and now I’m on day 17!
I’m so proud of myself and so grateful for the support I have found in meetings. So much of my chaotic life now makes sense. Not that I am proud of it or anything. Anyway, some other issues are more pronounced now that I am no longer drinking. Relationship problems are one thing, my eating is another.
There are so few in depth personal accounts of adults living with major eating disorders. So few detailed experiences. It’s triggering for me and it takes a lot of out me to recount what I go through.
First of all, I quit the SSRIs. After two months of citalopram numbing me out completely, 1/2 a month off, and one month of escitalopram piling pound upon pound of what the citalopram started, here I am left with only my usual Wellbutrin. I think of everything in pounds lost and gained. I weighed myself today for the first time since early December and I’ve gained seven pounds. Somehow I’m happy about that – happy and surprised it wasn’t twice as much.
These days I don’t binge too often (maybe about once a week), and even when I do the amount consumed is much less than it used to be. I’ll buy a package of cookies and it takes me two and a half days to plow through it instead of twenty minutes, for instance. But I know which foods get me (cookies, candy, cereal) and whenever I buy them I know what I’m doing. No longer am I restricting and over exercising, so I don’t spend an hour inhaling basic food like I used to (entire loaves of sliced bread, enough thai takeaway for three people, entire pints of ice cream, big bowls of rice, two packages of ramen, etc). Now it’s more like consistent overeating – two lunches (one at 1pm and one at 4pm), three desserts (one before dinner as a “snack,” one after dinner, and one before bed). I feel guilty about it and I am aware it will make me gain weight. But I have a consistent feeling of testing myself. That’s the only way I can think to put it.
Testing myself to see how fat “I” will let myself get. Testing myself to see if “I can stand” being heavy in a world that discriminates against heavy women. Testing my boyfriend to see if he’ll be less attracted to me. In my ind, I’m saying “isn’t this what you wanted? to not have to care? to not feel pressured to run 5 miles everyday? to not have to live off hard boiled eggs and salad?” Those diet foods make me almost as scared as binge food makes me now. When I think of returning to my restricting regimen, I have such a feeling of dread, hatred of my body, and hatred of my masochism, fear of regaining the weight and returning to what is really just a normal weight again.
I’ve learned from Health At Every Size podcasts and websites that if I restrict my calories, or even mentally restrict my food, it will lead me to binge. Last week I told myself I would try to eat healthier and even that led to me eating more than I wanted to!
That’s what I would define as my problem right now. I’m not bingeing and actually I don’t even hate my body that much right now. I’m 5-7 pounds heavier than I’ve been in over ten years. Only once was I in this range before – when I binge ate my way out of anorexia. It took me a few years to level out to normal after that first major increase. But now I’m up there again, and it’s not even so bad. What’s bad about it is the constant eating. I just wait to be alone so I can eat. Every time I have free time, I snack. Every meal is boring or tedious because I’m eating with someone else and can’t stuff it down like I want to.
And the weight gain is simply the proof that I’m eating beyond what’s comfortable. The amount that I’m uncomfortably full these days is, in fact, just about equal to the amount I’m uncomfortably hungry when I diet. I find that really interesting. It’s this slight level – just enough so that I can forget about it if I do something engrossing, but can also default to it as an easy distraction when my mind has nowhere else to go.
THESE ARE ALL YOU HAVE AND ARE.
That’s what the ED brain reminds me constantly, without actually saying a word. When I smile it says I look geeky and awkward. When I stand up it says I’m offending people with my hips and thighs (and now my new stomach). When I do dishes it points big red arrows at my backside that advertise all the extra snacks I’ve had that day. When I spend time on my appearance it asks me why I’m trying to dress up a lost cause.
I just picked back up with running, which I haven’t done for three months, and am surprised to find it feels good. I trick myself into getting out there by reminding mysef I can go so slow, I can basically walk. I can stop whenever I feel like it, and that nobody is paying attention. It’s not easy. I am out of shape. But I always get at least one passing moment of freedom when I run and I treasure that feeling still. It gets me out of my hate brain and into my appreciation brain. Do I eat even more because I’ve been running? Maybe, just slightly. Do I tell myself it won’t make any difference to my weight? Yes, but that shouldn’t matter I have to remind myself. Or – even worse – yes, maybe it will make a difference and imagine how thin I’ll be again! I read about a lady who started running marathons and she lost 40 pounds. I really have to remind myself that is not the point. But, my stints with exercise seem to always begin this way – taking it easy, then suddenly …not. It’s an addiction and I have to be careful with it. Maybe I need to remind myself that the oozy, frothy-mouthed demon who asks me if I feel lazy and fat enough yet could simply be my eating disorder getting really mad that it’s being ignored for the first time in years.
Maybe I’m beating my own head and the overeating is my infantile way of celebrating freedom. Maybe I’m finally okay with growing up and taking up however much space I need to take up. But that doesn’t mean it comes easy. There are voices in my head that tell me I’d better f****** diet, just like there are voices in my head that telling me drinking for a day wouldn’t be so bad. They tell me there’s nothing else that’s gonna make me palatable to other humans except drinking; there’s nothing that’s gonna make me a good writer except drinking; any guy who’s gonna be able to keep my interest will only fall for me if I have a dark side, too; my boyfriend does not want to be seen with a size 10; my friends are disgusted by my weight change and I have to fix it before I see anybody.
Today I had coffee with a woman I met in AA. We have a lot in common concerning our romantic lives and being able to talk to another woman in her 30s who has had a string of tumultuous boyfriends (and happens to be single at the moment) meant the world to me. We talked about not making major changes unless you need to in order to protect your own sobriety. She told me how much she is inclined to make impulsive decisions. She told me that she is supposed to run things by her sponsor first (things like major purchases, vacations, moves) to make sure she’s not rushing into something that could put her in a tough emotional or financial situation that would threaten her sobriety.
It was really great to hear another grown woman talk about impulsivity as a challenge. That when you live to make things difficult, chaotic, or dramatic for youself, you are creating challenges which will ultimately control you not benefit you.
I am still sober after more than two weeks and I am proud of that. I am taking it extremely easy, like they remind you to in AA. I am trying my best to accept that although I’m not entirely proud of my body or my eating behaviors right now, that either my eating behaviors or my perspective will change eventually rendering all this a non-issue.
In other words, I’m F.I.N.E. (F***ed up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional).