Tag Archives: Addiction

Perspective on ED Recovery

Much more fueled by anxiety than I thought

I needed to grab whatever was closest in order to ground me. When I was panicking I would need a lifeline, someting outside of myself, in order to change the feelings so they would become manageable to me.

Much more isolated than I thought

Even though I had a lot of information about eating disorders, was reading personal accounts, and had tried to mention things to friends in passing, I myself didn’t even believe I was sick. The shame I felt, the overwhelm I felt for not knowing how to eat normally, was expressed in self-hate which always turned to eating disordered behaviors.

Much more hidden, much deeper than I thought

My eating disorder told me “Until you return to the most painful spot in your history and relive it until it goes right, you are doing yourself a disservice by changing, growing emotionally, or even considering happiness.”

Over the past 10 years I have been very nostalgic. I have trouble throwing things away and have been chiefly directed by an overwhleming sense of loss. I was attempting to navigate back through my past to a place that didn’t exist anymore. Getting somewhere that doesn’t exist and doing it without a map? I now see that as the ultimate in martyrdom. “Sadly, present life, I can’t show up for you,” in other words.

My eating disorder forced me to check out of my life as it was happening at present. With my eating disorder, I had stability.  It appeared to be comfortable and safe there. It was at least familiar. And even with the physical pain, it was better than acknowledging how lost I felt.

The thing I leearned to let myself see is that the places in the past don’t exist anymore. They are not based in geography so I can’t physically go back. They will have changed to a different place in time. My eating disoder tells me all the time that my body cannot, should not, will not be allowed to change. I believe the last of its behaviors are/were hiding in this thinking that (1) my body can stop time by staying the same or (2) my body can take me back to the past to fix things by maintaining the shape it had then .

Ironically, a lot of the things I wanted to fix back there in the past – but am now letting go of and forgiving myself for – are situations that I felt I could have avoided with better personal boundaries and a greater sense of assertiveness. (For instance, paying attention to red flags in relationships instead of staying when I’m getting hurt. Or trying my best to pinpoint my emotions and reach out for understanding from someone who can help).

Unfortunately I didn’t always have good boundaries or assertiveness skills, and at one point I was too young to have the perspective that help is available to me.

That very fact underscores the importance of moving forward now.

Now, I am working on improving these skills and will not stop asking for other perspectives.

I am lucky enough to have met a number of incidents which brought me here, finally, to the place of getting help. A big part of that has meant help in letting go. Letting go of regret for not acting sooner because I AM acting NOW – and now I’m actually ready! Letting go of my judgements (of myself and others) and replacing that with curiosity as best I can. Letting go of telling myself I’m fat and ugly, and instead asking myself how I really feel and what I can do to feel better in this moment. Letting go of knowing best and letting other people take care of me, allowing for the possibility that it could lead me to happiness. That’s what I really wanted after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Buzz of My Own

Today while walking the dog I catch myself brainstorming sober ways to achieve a Skip In My Step and/or The High of Superiority. My first brilliant ideas are

(1) some sort of mid-afternoon fresh fruit juice spritzer with citrus or cucumber and apple cider vinegar

(2) lots more coffee, but BLACK (internal voice puts me down for ever using dairy or sugar in my coffee: “That’s why it’s not working dummy.”)

(3) eat enough protein, since I’ve read this will help decrease sugar cravings. (And man do I have those).

As I sigh and suffer incredibly deep disappointment over these being my only unexciting options, I realize the issue is not with my lack of exciting options.  The issue is that I’m still looking for that buzz at all. I’m still hoping I can find something benign to afford me the thrill I seem so unable to produce for myself.

Immediately I thought of the people at meetings who talk about their Higher Power.

They say they are only able to stay sober thanks to their Higher Power. They say that’s where they turn when they would otherwise turn to alcohol. People have also admitted sheepishly that their lives may seem a little boring, then quickly follow up with something like, “but that’s okay for me,” or “it turns out that’s how I like it.” Then comes the mantra about their worst day sober still being better than any day drunk. I understand we have to continually remind ourselves of this to prevent reasoning our way back to our addictions.

I do believe that in terms of mental health and a person’s basic need for stability, a boring life may be better. A life made chaotic and unmanageable by drinking doesn’t equal many good days, days where you have the stillness to really live. Right now, though, it’s a challenge for me to have the perspective of many days of sobriety.  I can hear the stories from others and that is helpful. I’m grateful for that because it keeps me hopeful, but presently I miss fucking myself up.

When your life is stable and “boring” (but good) it must be because you have inner peace. When you carry yourself through life peacefully and are able to return to your peaceful self whenever times are tough, I imagine it to be the most comforting feeling. I imagine you then crave sobriety since it enables your connection to your inner peace and you tend to like it there. It seems like the surrender to a Higher Power and the state of inner peace are closely aligned, but I struggle to understand how exactly.

If I’m looking inward, isn’t that selfish? But how can I find the inner peace if I don’t look inward?

How do I find a Higher Power if I don’t even know what I need?

If it’s not supposed to be all about me, why do I feel so self-centered all the time and not able to shake it?

If I stop thinking of myself I’ll run out of energy. What if I have a break down?

My own identity scares me, mostly because I’m not at all sure what it is. Having to discover it is happening NOW. I would very much like to delay the discovery with DRINKS – one million drinks, starting with a giant pint or three of sparkling IPA, a bunch of warm whiskey toddies while perched atop a barstool, and ending with red wine and movies in bed after walking in the rain. As the sober days pass, though, I feel the discovery growing ever nearer. I’m freaked out.

Today for the first time I felt Real Me tapping me on my shoulder. Seriously. Tapping. I am avoiding turning around because I know Real Me is there – waiting – and I am ignoring her, for now. Hypothetically speaking, I desire the buzz of feeling comfortable in my own skin much more than I desire any sort of drug or alcohol. I’m going to be cautious, stay informed, stay sober, keep reminding myself I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

 

Alcoholics & Overeaters Anonymous

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.

FOOD.

YOUR BODY.

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).