What a year we have shared! So many ups and downs. I normally dislike the New Year Resolution, “fresh start” hype, but I must admit, there is something to be said about the novelty of the ever-promising January First.
Let’s look at some memorable snippets over the year.
March 1, 2012: First Attempt at Journaling
I have disordered eating. I think about food constantly, always afraid of binging, always afraid of the hunger pains that may occur when I go without food, always planning my next meals or next time to exercise, always feeling an obsessive need to count calories or protein or sodium or whatever.
March 8, 2012
I overate. I hate using the word binge, because then I would be breaking my promise made only a week ago. But I did consume about 1000 calories in less than an hour.
March 14, 2012
I binged. Six days after my last one.
March 24, 2012: Despair
I ate more yesterday than I have in MONTHS.
To hold myself accountable: the whole frozen pizza, 2 Klondike Bars, homemade fudge, 20 Chips Ahoy Cookies, Apple donut, 2 waffles with butter, 2 cups of ice cream…all throughout the day.
March 25, 2012: Despair Round Two
Can’t stop binge-eating.
Probably have eaten 10,000+ calories in 3 days.
Feeling ashamed and hopeless.
April 8, 2012: Trying intuitive eating
Overall, I’ve been doing well. I did not track calories this week, and i didn’t binge at all! Just overrate a little today at Easter, but nothing out-of-control…I’m realizing that I just allow myself to get anxious enough toe experience hunger when I “want” or “think” I should be hungry.
April 12, 2012
I know how to take care of myself. I know how to be healthy. But, for some reason, I am unable to treat myself with the love and respect my body deserves. This will be one difficult journey, but, this time, I am determined to see the finish line.
April 16, 2012: First time I sought help (through college counseling program)
I’ve decided to get help for my eating disorder, and I will be meeting with a therapist for the first time next week. I’m nervous, but I’m also ready and willing to get better. I came clean to ___ and ___, which was very liberating. Fortunately, they are both very supportive and understanding. In talking to ____, I realized that I don’t take care of my true needs enough–in fact, I usually settle, be it food, clothes, items, etc. for something I don’t actually want. It’s like I don’t think I deserve it. What an epiphany!
So, I’ve been trying to eat intuitively by listening to my body, paying attention to my cravings, and actually satisfying them. If I want a treat, I am ONLY giving myself exactly that treat, not a substitution. Amazing how freeing this feels–the other day, my tummy was growling, and I spent fifteen minutes confused about what I wanted to eat. I haven’t had any desire to binge. I’m consuming slightly more food than I was, but I’m not stressing over balancing or carbs. I’m just eating.
April 25, 2012: “Sorry, we don’t work with eating disorders”
Still struggling. The counseling program at school can’t help me, so I made an appointment with _____. Oh well.
July 12, 2012: My first therapist (didn’t like him much at all)
We talked about the ebb and flow of progress, the dirty, complex path to recovery. It’s scary knowing that I may slip up, and in fact, even more terrifying to be able to embrace it. Quitting an addiction cold turkey, while we all have heard the stories, is rare and actually very difficult. This is especially true when the problem has been deep-rooted in one’s life for many years, as mine has.
He commends me on writing how I feel, and I agree that it has been helping me very much. It’s a way to unwind and reflect on my behavior, patterns, and thoughts without being overly critical. He mentioned that is important to learn to not take everything so seriously and almost be able to laugh at the things I fear and hate the most (I.E: when I binge).
July 16, 2012
Oh, binge eating disorder, how you NEVER fail to surprise me.
How did I go from feeling so on top of it to knee deep in Oreos?
August 15, 2012
Damn- I had a really bad binge today, and I felt horrible afterwards!
August 16, 2012
I had another mini-binge today, but I didn’t let it derail me-which I guess is good. Still bumming pretty hard about it. I never thought I’d be suffering from an eating disorder.
September 7, 2012
I binged…not proud of it at all. I tried so hard not to. Then, it became a free-for-all-day. Why must I torment myself this way?
September 8, 2012
You know, despite the horrible tummy ache I had at work all morning, I binged again when I got home. I was so full. But, this time, I spent an hour planning out a month free of binges, and I’m vowing to stick to it…I’m committed. I can’t let myself down again.
September 14, 2012: First session with second therapist (the one I still work with)
The new therapist was interesting–a much different vibe than the super-nurturing, “it’s all going to be okay” mantra I expected. Nope. She’s straight-up and tough.
September 23, 2012
I binged today. I’m not happy about it, but I am owning up to it. For some reason, I just wanted to eat, eat, eat. Okay, I know the reasons–compensation/reward for not bingeing in 15 days, being home all day without prepared meals or designated times to eat and general anxiety about the upcoming week. It wasn’t my worst binge, not even in the top ten, and for several hours, I did delay it by looking/reading eating disorder blogs. Stopping that behavior, before it even begins, however, is the key to my success. So, one roadblock, one obstacle…not about to be defeated now!
October 5, 2012: Rock Bottom
I’m coming down from a binge, and I feel sick to my stomach. I’m experiencing all my usual feelings (the self-blame, anger, sadness, guilt, and strong feelings of weakness), but more than anything else, I feel scared…I’m just so afraid that I’m not going to bet better…I feel so vulnerable…I know why binged today..I was aware of how I was feeling, but I wasn’t able to handle these problems constructively. And so, I did what always numbs the pain. I ate. And ate and ate…I feel wrecked and exhausted, like I’ve tried so many different recovery options…I hate the preoccupation; it’s toxic, it’s driving me insane, and I’m really afraid of isolating myself because of it…I’m tired of the disillusions of “this is the last time” and “tomorrow will be better,” because part of me wants to believe that is true, but I also know it’s probably completely unrealistic…I just want to stop feeling like I have two voices and personalities: the normal me and the me dealing with an eating disorder…I’m tired of feeling like I’m out of control, when this is something I have full control over.
October 22, 2012: Slowly getting easier?
I haven’t binged in 17 days, a huge feat for me, and I’m super proud of myself for getting to where I am at right now. It takes so much work to recover–there’s the need for me to learn to love myself unconditionally and heal all the same I’ve held within me.
October 25, 2012: Texts to my therapist
I think I’m finally ready to expose myself and get the help and support I need from therapy. It kinda terrifies me to do that, but I want to overcome this, and I’m very grateful for your patience and understanding.
November 28, 2012: Asking my therapist for help when I needed it (last binge)
Hey, so I kinda overrate a little bit ago. Nothing real major but now I’m having some anxiety and the disordered thoughts 😦 Trying to deep breathe, anything else? Is now a good time to call?
Reflecting over our relationship makes me feel a variety of emotions, from sad to humiliated to empowered and optimistic. Aside from our relationship, 2012 was an incredible year, and I have so much to be grateful for!
My achievements over the past year
1. Admitting I have a problem to SOMEONE ELSE other than myself. This has single-handedly been the most influential change agent in my recovery process. I spent years thinking I could fix myself and falsely believing that opening up indicated poor willpower and utter weakness. Nope. Admitting weakness is a sign of strength, and I know now that I could not do this without the support and guidance from others.
2. Learning and ACTUALLY USING effective coping strategies to deal with anxiety or other aversive, triggering emotions, such as journaling, yoga, reaching out to people, deep breathing, removing myself from the situation, etc.
3. Giving up my obsession with the scale. I have no idea how much I weigh. I have not checked in two months. My clothes fit and I am learning to accept and embrace my body for everything it does for me!
4. Discontinuing calorie-counting and any other type of calculation. While I know this keeps some people on track, it made me preoccupied and obsessive.
5. Attending Overeaters Anonymous meetings. I was absolutely resistant to this kind of support, and I have still not taken a stance whether I agree with the philosophy, but I enjoy the meetings, conversations, and like-minded atmosphere. This Twelve Steps program validates that I am not alone in my behaviors or thoughts.
6. Abstaining from bingeing. Today marks 33 days. This is the longest I have gone without using restrictive behaviors. I am incredibly proud of myself.
7. Writing about my recovery as often as I can. I am choosing to channel my emotions in a constructive format, rather than a destructive one, which has been absolutely beneficial.
8. Making my recovery the first priority in my life. I have always been “too busy.” Today, I am busier than EVER BEFORE. And you know what? I am putting this first. I am prioritizing myself, rather than my friendships and relationships. I know that I need to love and respect myself before I can give and receive it from others. Sometimes, recovery feels time-consuming and difficult. Sometimes, I get angry with driving to meetings or reading literature or speaking in therapy or calming myself down when I feel anxious or depressed or preoccupied with my distorted thoughts. But nobody promised it was going to be easy. I did not develop an eating disorder overnight; I will not unravel it overnight. The journey of a thousand baby steps once seemed daunting and overwhelming, but now, I’m just learning to enjoy the scenery and novelty along the way.
Goals for the next year
1. Find a sponsor. As mentioned, I do not know just how I feel about the Twelve Steps format, but I know success often depends on strength in numbers. The more cheerleaders, the better.
2. Continue my sobriety from bingeing. One day at a time.
3. Write, vent, complain, brag, or even just ramble about this journey as often as I can. This is healing for me, and for anyone who may be reading, I hope that my experiences can help you as well.
I am in a completely different place than I was last year at this time. I do not know what “true recovery” will look or even feel like, but that does not concern me right now. The present moment has never felt so wonderful.
Recovery IS worth it.