April 21, 2010

It Is Time

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:24 pm by eddejae

I have been working up the courage and emotional energy all day to tackle what I think is the one thing I have yet to actually confront, and it something I hope to conquer.

It is something I am deeply ashamed of.

It is my eating disorder.

I’ve gone through cycling phases of accepting it and denying it, giving in to it and fighting it. Yet it wins, time and time again, in one form or another – anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder.

In one form, I restrict calories and I over-exercise. At one point a few years ago, I managed to keep my calorie intake down to about 800 calories while working out 3 hours every day and abusing laxatives.

When I was 16, I stopped eating almost entirely. I weighed less than 90 pounds.

At other times, I have gone on eating binges and then purged through throwing up or taking laxatives and diuretics. In both cases, I would go on an extreme diet until I felt I had compensated for the calories I had consumed.

Now, I’m on a constant binge/diet cycle. I will keep my calories below 1,000 cal/day and exercise at least 60 min/day for a week at the longest. Then, my body gets depleted. I start having cravings and urges to binge, and my body is exhausted. So I binge for a day, two days, maybe three or four, depending on my emotional state. The more depressed I am, the more likely I am to binge. Then, after I’ve had enough and I feel awful about myself because I’ve gained 5 pounds or so, I go right back on a strict diet to lose what I gained – promising myself I’ll never binge again. But I always do. The cycle has repeated itself a hundred times at least.

My whole life is centered around food. Counting how many calories I’m consuming, how many I’m burning, how long it will take me to lose a certain number of pounds. I have a goal weight in my mind, and I never, ever get there. I’m never good enough. And because of my binging episodes, I always feel like a failure. I begin to feel like that’s all I am. A failure. I have no self-control.

Of course, I know that my binges serve a bigger purpose than merely satisfying physical craving. They have become a coping mechanism, even an addiction. For the moment, it numbs me. Anxious? Eat. Depressed? Eat. Lonely? Eat. I have often felt like food was my only friend. It’s always there. Always something I can count on. Always comforting. And you know what else? It protects me from relationships. As long as I am putting on weight, as long as I am uncomfortable with my body, I am kept from putting myself out there; I am not at risk of being hurt; no one can touch me; no one can love me… and… no one can leave me. I am alone, but I am safe. If I feel bad about myself, I don’t socialize. If I don’t socialize, I don’t have to feel anxious and self-conscious. It is a vicious cycle of self-harm and self-hate. I eat to hurt myself. I eat to soothe myself. I eat to punish myself. I eat to reward myself. I eat to keep from cutting. I eat to keep myself from putting myself in a situation where I could be taken advantage of by men. I eat to avoid social anxiety. I eat to stay put. I eat to stay in my comfort zone. I eat so I don’t have to FEEL. It numbs me to the world. It is my drug of choice.

But it is ruining my life.

Eating too much or not eating enough. Never a middle ground. Never a balance. Just extremes. It becomes a game I play with myself. It’s something I can control. It’s something I know. As long as I focus on calories, on exercise, on making lists of things I can and can’t eat… I feel like I’m in control. It is a coping method. When everything else is chaos – my emotions, my social life, my family, my mind – that one thing can stay consistent. It is a true obsession that is all-consuming. Not a minute goes by that I am not thinking about what I’m going to eat next or how I can keep myself from eating when the hunger pangs come.

Listen to my body? I don’t know what that means. I live my life by the clock and by calories. “At 10:00am I can eat 150 calories. I can’t eat again until 2:00pm at which time I can have 200 calories.” These thoughts are at the foreground of my mind almost constantly. You’d think “Eat when your hungry. Don’t eat when you’re not hungry” would be simple, self-explanatory. Not to me. I don’t know what that means. My body and I don’t communicate much.

I constantly compare myself to other girls. Girls on the street, girls in movies, girls in magazines. Any girl. And I usually come up short.

My clothes are old and ragged, because I refuse to buy new ones until I’ve reached my weight goal. Even when I’ve lost weight, I wear baggy clothing to hide my body.

People throughout my life have told me “You’re so beautiful!” or “You’re a perfect size”… I’ve never been able to believe them. It’s so hard. I feel like I should… I want to believe those things about myself… I want to believe I am beautiful and perfect and worthy of love. But as long as I am not my ideal weight, I can’t believe it.

I don’t know what made me like this. Maybe the sexual abuse I experienced during my childhood. Maybe the destructive messages from the society and the media. Maybe influences in my life growing up. Maybe I’m just a perfectionist. I don’t know.

I hate looking in the mirror. I disgust myself. I wish I could love myself. I am so jealous of girls who are comfortable with who they are and what they look like… I envy that freedom.

I want to be free.

I want to be free from this obsession, from this self-hate. I want to be healthy. I don’t want to starve myself. I don’t want to binge. I don’t want restrict my activities and even fail to reach my potential because of this heavy baggage I carry – the baggage of weight that is so much more than just physical. It is mental, emotional, spiritual. My whole identity is wrapped up in my body image. I just want to be free.

Many of my nightmares have to do with how I look and my shame about my body.

I am so tired of it.

I need help. I’m crying for help. I’ve kept all of this inside for so long. It’s been my secret obsession. It can’t be secret anymore. I need support. I need help to overcome this. Lately I’ve been playing around with the idea of engaging in anorexic behavior again. This is a major part of the reason I had a complete breakdown last night… I just couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like I would do ANYTHING to be skinny, even stop eating completely. And if I couldn’t… Well, I don’t want to go that place in my mind. I had stumbled across some pro-anorexic websites that were very triggering. Did you know that there’s an entire Facebook community of individuals deep in their eating disorders that support each other? It’s terrible. They post pictures of skeletal models and encourage each other not to eat. It’s terrifying. And yet it was strangely alluring… I don’t want to become that.

I’m afraid. I’ve lived with this obsession over food and weight so long, if I let go of it, I’m afraid I will feel a void… which leads me to believe that I must replace this obsession with something else. But what? And how do I stop the obsessive thoughts? How do I start accepting myself for who I am? How do I become happy with my body?

For most of my life, I have equated thinness with happiness. I need to change my thinking. But how? How do you change something that feels so ingrained in your soul?

How do I live… REALLY live… without this fear, this inner ache, that drives me into these self-destructive patterns?

I want to be free.

I have to set myself free… Thus far I have been determined to make the disorder, the cycle, work for me. I now realize that is has done nothing but destroy me. It has not brought me anything but pain and misery.

No one else can do this for me.

I can’t live with this anymore.

It is one of the last things I have to cling to, but I have to let it go if I am to be truly healthy.

I will overcome it, no matter what it takes…

Dear God, please give me strength…

And so it begins…

(This song describes exactly how I feel right now about all of this. I don’t know what I would do without music to help me express what I cannot…)

I told another lie today
And I got through this day
No one saw through my games
I know the right words to say
Like “I don’t feel well,” “I ate before I came”
Then someone tells me how good I look
And for a moment, for a moment I am happy
But when I’m alone, no one hears me cry

I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Some days I’m still fighting to walk towards the light
I need you to know
That we’ll be OK
Together we can make it through another day

I don’t know the first time I felt unbeautiful
The day I chose not to eat
What I do know is how I’ve changed my life forever
I know I should know better
There are days when I’m OK
And for a moment, for a moment I find hope
But there are days when I’m not OK
And I need your help
So I’m letting go

I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Some days I’m still fighting to walk towards the light
I need you to know
That we’ll be OK
Together we can make it through another day

You should know you’re not on your own
These secrets are walls that keep us alone
I don’t know when but I know now
Together we’ll make it through somehow
(together we’ll make it through somehow)

I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Some days I’m still fighting to walk towards the light
I need you to know
That we’ll be OK
Together we can make it through another day

February 24, 2010

It’s Now or Never

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:57 pm by eddejae

Today is a brand new day with brand new goals!  I have to say, I’m pretty excited to start the program I’ve created for myself.  The two over-arching goals that I will be constantly working on, even as I master other goals, are:

1) Stick to exercise and nutrition program to achieve weight loss goal and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

  • Start with 30-min cardio/day and work up to 60 min cardio, 5 days a week.
  • Gradually incorporate strength training 2 times a week and stretching every day.
  • Eat 1,200-1,400 calories/day – high protein, complex carbohydrates
  • Cut out any excess sugar and caffeine.
  • Weigh myself once a week to track my progress.

2) Attend weekly therapy sessions and work on applying skills discussed.

  • Journal what is discussed during therapy
  • Identify skills I need to work on and set up a plan of action with therapist

The other three goals I will be working on now are:

3) Daily scripture study and prayer, and weekly church attendance.

4) Reading assigned therapy materials.

  • Read at least a chapter a day in one of the books I’m reading and take notes

5) Practice my piano and singing.

  • Practice piano at least 30 min every day
  • Do some amount of vocal exercises every day

And, of course, blogging every day 🙂

I think my medication is finally starting to take effect… The last few days I’ve had a lot more mental and physical energy than I’ve had in a long time. I’m currently on Seroquel (an anti-psychotic) and Lexapro (anti-depressant). The Seroquel still makes me sleep 11-12 hours a night, but I’m a lot less sleepy during the day. I’ve also noticed less obsessive thoughts and mood swings. My uncontrollable urges to cut myself or overdose have also left almost completely. After trying so many medications that either made me a zombie or made me suicidal, it’s such a relief to finally be on something that seems to be working for me.

I still struggle with urges to binge, but I’m hoping that by sticking to a healthy eating and exercise program, that will decrease as well. Also, since my binging or restricting urges are usually a way for me to escape or distract myself from emotional stress, I’m working on turning to other outlets when I’m feeling triggered. That’s where my 3 goals come in… Practicing my music is a huge emotional release for me, and nourishing my faith and continuing to learn from my therapy books will keep me motivated to choose healthy coping skills.

I will be honest… I’ve never been good at sticking to things or keeping promises to myself. But I know without a doubt that if I don’t stay committed to my goals and to my recovery, I will never have a fulfilling life. It will just be the cycle of depression and self-destructive behaviors, over and over again. I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t accept that anymore. I know what kind of life I want, and I will do whatever it takes to get there. For the first time in my life, I feel truly committed to something. Sure, I may make mistakes … It’s kind of inevitable… But as long as I “fall foward,” and pick myself up again and again, there is no way I can truly fail. I will make it, step by step…

February 20, 2010

“There must be opposition in all things.” Touché.

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:41 pm by eddejae

I woke up this morning with some very lofty plans for the day. I was going to wake up early, exercise, tidy my room, do laundry, and spend the rest of the day reading, writing, and maybe even getting out of the house a bit. (Doesn’t seem like much, I know… But when your typical day consists of sleeping 12-13 hours a day due to medication and spending the rest of the day in front of the TV because you have no energy or motivation to do anything else…well… Aiming for a normal day of activity feels as daunting as running a marathon!) As luck would have it, I had a restless night and woke up late in the morning with a migraine, sore throat, and cold.

So, instead of having day full of productivity and goal-setting as I had planned, I wound up spending most of my time blowing my nose and sitting in front of the television with my laptop. My natural inclination is to view this as a failure. Yes, I know it’s not my fault I came down with a cold. Yes, I know I shouldn’t push myself when I’m sick. Which is why instead of being hard on myself (perfectionist that I am), I’m going to look at this as just another “fall forward.” I may not have accomplished what I wanted to, but the day was not a total waste. Even if writing this blog entry was the only thing I did today (which… well… it pretty much is haha…), I could still count today as a successful baby step towards recovery.

As it happens, I was able to do a considerable amount of brainstorming while in my somewhat debilitated state. I’ve recognized that a large part of my struggle in moving forward towards healing is my inability over the last few years to set goals and persevere until I reach them. One of the symptoms of BPD is the proclivity towards extremes. I set goals that are unrealistic and then either punish myself when I fail to reach them (example: not letting myself go to a party because I didn’t lose five pounds in one week), or try to attain them in unhealthy ways (such as attempting to lose weight by starving myself). Or, I give up on myself and don’t challenge myself enough. Then I end up stuck in a rut, experiencing no progression or growth.

I think I will continue to use weight as an example, since it is something I struggle with. My “black and white,” extreme thinking has led to serious problems such as anorexia, bulimia, yo-yo dieting, and binging. It is difficult for me to stick to a healthy and reasonable plan of diet and exercise as I tend to slip into “over-doing” it (overly restricting calories or exercising excessively) or giving up entirely (binging). Often this becomes a cycle. Well, I’m tired of it. And I’m not going to do it anymore. My physical health has suffered greatly from what I have put my body through. What I do to myself is related to my issues with low self-esteem, body image, and sexual abuse I experienced as a child. I’ve never liked my body. This is something I am working on in therapy and is probably going to be one of the biggest hurdles I will have to overcome, as it is something very deep-rooted and the behaviors are very ingrained. However, no matter how many times I have tried to break the cycle and failed, I have picked myself up and tried again.

And here I go again. Falling forward. Lately I haven’t been treating my body very well, but that is changing. Starting now. Instead of saying to myself “I have to be this many pounds by this date,” I am simply starting a healthy nutrition and exercise program that I will be able to maintain. I will reach my goal weight whenever I reach it. As long as I am sticking to my plan and avoiding the binge/purge cycle by using the coping skills I am learning in therapy, then I will feel successful every day. The key is not giving up. I CAN do this. I AM strong. Though health and eating issues are not the sole focus of my recovery, I believe that if I can overcome this particular struggle (or at least being able to feel confident in my ability to master it in time), it will give me even further motivation and strength to tackle the other areas of imbalance in my life. Ultimately, everything is connected to each other, and improvement in one area will affect the progress of all the others.

Hopefully tomorrow I will feel better and will actually be able to begin my nutrition and exercise program, as well as do some important reading for therapy. A good night’s sleep will help… So I’m off to bed. Goodnight… Whoever you are. 🙂