Monday, 6 August 2012

a word on rumination

cute cows from here
Before I started all this recovery bizzo 'rumination' to me meant something cows did. But apparently, in the psychology world, it also refers to the thinking, thinking and over-thinking thing that I do - especially about mistakes I have made.

I was a cow last night. And not the cute and cuddly one up there, but the mean, cranky, fly-off-the-handle-and-have-a-gold-medal-tanty type of cow. And then I cried. And I cried. And I cried some more. And then I rang my big brother and I cried some more. And then once he'd calmed me down enough for me to stop crying,  I went and apologised to MrPJ. Who said, and I quote, "it's ok, just relax".

What? Just like that we could forget about my tanty? What about all the beating myself up? The endless explanations about why I was so stressed. The guilt, the shame, the waiting for forgiveness. Oh shit, that's right, he's my husband not my father.

MrPJ has a way of just forgiving and moving on. Yep, you were a cow, and thanks for saying sorry. Ok, what's for dinner.

But that almost doesn't feel like enough. If I don't ruminate then I haven't punished myself enough for my terrible behaviour. Surely I need to go over and over and over it again in my head so I can re-live and reinforce just how horrible a person I am.

I think I prefer MrPJs approach. Re-living my tanty doesn't make it better. I am sorry and I said so. And if I'm really lucky I will have learned something from the experience to help me deal with my anxiety better next time it happens. But I actually don't have to punish myself by re-living it 75000 time in living colour. Reinforcing what a bad person I am is ED talking, not me. And I don't listen to ED. He is a dick.

So I think I'll choose to listen to MrPJ.

And just relax.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

cry for help or attention seeking?

ouch. harsh pic from here

I had a conversation the other day with the mother of a girl recovering from anorexia. Her daughter is doing really well, but has a friend from hospital who is not doing well and keeps sending her text messages all about how there's no point and how she's never going to eat again. My friend's daughter finds this not only distressing but also very triggering and is thinking about cutting ties with  the girl in order to protect herself. She is also, not to put to fine a point on it, sick of this girl's drama.

My first advice was of course that her daughter needs to protect herself and her recovery above all else - that her responsibility is only to her own well being. But I also put in my two cents as to why the other girl is acting the way she is. My friend found this a very helpful perspective, so I thought I might share it with you here.

From how I know I have acted, and the way I have seen others acting (especially on social media) I have four theories why people suffering from an eating disorder engage in what appears from the outside to be 'attention seeking' behaviour:

1. Catharsis - sometimes the pain is just so great that if you don't shout it out you're not always sure what you'll end up doing. It's always better to shout about how much you hurt inside than turn to self harm. You don't really want anyone to respond or fix anything, you're just getting it off your chest.

2. Conversation - sometimes it's about wanting to start a conversation about something that's bothering you, but not really knowing how to do that. You might say "it's all too hard, I'm not going to eat today" but you might mean "what do you do when you feel like this?" You might just being looking for someone with a shared experience to let you know that you are not alone and give you some strategies.

3. Validation - when you are feeling really low, and don't have the emotional resilience or self esteem to find that little spark inside yourself to keep on going, sometimes you just want someone to let you know that you are worth a kind word. That you are loved and appreciated. That you are worth the effort it takes for someone to say "it'll be ok".

4. Sabotage - eating disorders love to isolate. And yes, sometimes the constant badgering is targeted at wearing you down for the specific purpose of eliciting the "go away, I've had enough" response. Then your eating disorder gets the honor of yelling "see, I told you your friends would turn on you in the end. They never really cared about you".

Nothing is ever straight forward with eating disorders, and communication is definitely very high up on that list of complicated issues. But I hope these ramblings are helpful to you. And I hope it helps you to see 'attention seeking' behavior with new understanding and tolerance.

For those of you who know me too well, you will know how much a list with only 4 points on it is bugging me. So if you have a 5th to add please leave it for me in the comments :)

Thursday, 12 July 2012

I've lost my restriction mojo

pooped puppy from here

I'm exhausted this evening. Exhausted and emotional - but also very hopeful. A real, new glimmer of hope appeared today.

I had a session with M, my dietician this afternoon. And somewhere amid my sobbing over my regrets and my guilt, we actually managed to find some meeting point. I managed to let my guard down for just long enough to question her on something.

She commented that it didn't seem like I was able to restrict at the moment.

Cue my ED response - I'm just not trying hard enough, I'm a fat pathetic loser because I'm not strong enough to do it. I'll have to try harder, I'll get it back.

Cue my courage - I asked her what it said about me if I can't restrict at the moment.

Her exact answer has been lost in my memory through the haze of competing thoughts and voices, but the gist of it was that not being able to restrict is something to be proud of not ashamed of. If shows that my will to live is stronger than my will to starve myself to death.

That it is the sign of a healthy mind.

I really liked hearing this. Really, really :-)

In a funny way I'm shocked that I was even able to ask her the question in the first place. I was so sure  what her answer would be (that I'm not strong/brave/good enough anymore) that asking felt like setting myself up to be judged. But I'm so glad I asked. Because I was wrong. ED was wrong.

So what am going to do with my new healthy mind? We've pinpointed the one time of the day when I have no routine or structure for eating - lunchtime. It is my most often skipped meal these days now that I am regularly eating dinner with my children. But lunch - I wouldn't even know where to start. Which is risky. We talked about impulse eating if I get too hungry, and also about the desire to not eat if I skip a meal - neither of which are good outcomes.

So without setting myself 'rules' I'm going to work at eating 3 meals and 3 snacks which also fulfill the recommended servings each day. And for the first time I actually want to do this. I really feel like being healthy is something I want.

Yeah, yeah ED, that's not the same thing as being fat. Shut up ED.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Commence 'Operation Helicopter Parent'

from here

I've noticed a change in the eating patterns of my eldest daughter lately. Choosing to have a glass of water instead of a hot chocolate when we go to the cafe. Bringing home her sandwiches uneaten from school. Only wanting rice for dinner. Complaining that she is putting on weight.

We've had discussions about natural body changes as you hit puberty - and the fact that all her friends will go through it too, only she's got there first. We've talked  about it being normal and the right thing for her body. We've talked about being healthy and strong as opposed to skinny and pretty; about body size not being a reflection on your self worth. And although I think the message has sunk in to a certain degree, I think genetics is against us on this one.

Tonight she told me she wants to cut all sugar and fat out of her diet and do lots of extra exercise so she can swim faster and look better in her bathers.


My mum would have been all over this - taking me out training, organizing my meals. My dad would have been telling me how hopeless I was if I didn't stick to it, if my lap times dropped off (not to mention every other aspect of my life he was able to find fault in).

But I know more than them. I am aware of where she's heading, even if she is not. I will encourage her to make healthy choices - but these choices need to be for a heck of a better reason than just looking good in her bathers - although I know how important this can feel at her age (at any age!).

So, my mission, should I choose to accept it (and you can bet the hell I do) is Operation Helicopter Parent. I will watch what she does. I will not turn a blind eye to any increase in unhealthy behaviours. She is my beautiful, funny, creative, articulate, intelligent, and very special girl - and if she stops being able to see that for even a second I am going to jump straight in a reinforce the crap out it. And I will not let her go without food.

I think the work that Laura Collins and the other devoted parents at FEAST do is amazing - but I never want to have to use their services. This family legacy of eating disorders ends with me. If I can't shake this bastard for my sake, then I will do it for my kids so they don't have to suffer the crap I've gone through.


Thursday, 28 June 2012

analyzing the first pangs of guilt


Analyzing this slip from the inside is quite an interesting game. I think I've been here so many times before that I know it won't last and I'm just riding it while it still 'works'. But tonight I felt my first pangs of guilt. Not because of what I'm doing to myself, but because I ate a perfectly sensible dinner. The sort of dinner I've been eating with my family quite successfully for a few months now - but haven't been having for the last week and a half.

But tonight I was hungry - and dinner was really yummy. So I ate it, all.

First pang of guilt - why did I eat all of it when a) I wasn't going to eat any and then b) I was only going to eat half.

Pang of guilt two - my stomach really hurts, this is all my fault.

Pang of guilt three - I need to go running

Pang of guilt four - I'll have to do sit ups once I don't feel so full

Pang of guilt five - I wonder what the scales will say tomorrow.

What I ate was ok. It tasted nice, it was healthy and I didn't over eat. I should be ok. But my recent restriction and all the crap that is tied up with this and my self-esteem has changed how I feel about what it ok.

No great conclusions - just an interesting observation that the same restriction that was making me feel so awesome is now making me feel guilty because I ate something adequate...

postscript: completely lost my cool this evening and ended up yelling at my eldest child and husband. Very ashamed of myself and still crying. I'm assuming my build up and subsequent explosion of stress and my meal are related...

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

wow, just wow...

my ED thinking has been ramping up a lot over the last week or so. And my big problem is, is that I'm loving it. I'm relaxed and relieved at not fighting it - and yes, once again, it's fixing everything. Yay me, right?

So since I don't want to fight back I thought I would humour ED and make a list of everything that being skinny means to me. Yeah...interesting list...

It makes me a better person
It makes me more fun to be around
I'm more confident
I can be taken seriously - when I'm 'overweight' people think I'm a joke
I'm less self conscious
I can wear what ever I like
People won't judge me
If I make a mistake people will be more forgiving
People will accept that I am intelligent
No one will laugh at me
No one will stare at me
I will like myself better
I won't call myself names

I know there's more to add to this list, but you get the idea.
wow, just wow - right...

Saturday, 23 June 2012

restriction - my drug of choice

Trigger warning - this post is about the pros and cons of restriction. Please do not read if you are worried this might be triggering.

[happy pills from here]

My gp says restricting is like a heroin addiction - just because I like it and it makes me feel good doesn't mean it's healthy or good for me.

Problem is, it doesn't just make me feel good. It makes me feel awesome!! Endless energy and power. I am king of the world. I can do anything. I love it. I am high as a kite on it. Why would I want to say no?

But like all drugs, that's just the rush. There's always the morning after. Not just the guilt and regret, but also the knowledge that I am hurting myself. Really badly, possibly permanently, possibly fatally.

But I'm hooked.

I'm a drug addict.

The addiction attacks my brain with it's need to be satisfied.

But I must not give in. It is an addiction and like any addict I can't have 'just a little'. One last drink, one last cigarette, one last hit. No. Not even one. It hurts like hell but I know where it leads.

It's all fun games but it'll end in tears.