I really should start a diary/journal so I don’t have to spout word vomit all over the internet.
There are times I feel invincible. Well, not quite invincible but ‘ok’. Happy and unconsumed by thoughts of food “Have I eaten enough today?” “Should I eat more?” “Did I meet the minimum?” I like these times. I eat what I want, when I want without giving a shit whether I have eaten x number of calories, or if I have eaten the appropriate number of carbs, fats, protein and all that crap. I like it because it feels more normal. I don’t know anybody in real life who consciously eats xx carbs and xx fats per day, nor do I know anybody who gives a crap if they have eaten a balanced meal. This, to me is normal. The non-eating disordered people I know eat more on some days, less on others. They don’t chose meals based around certain protein/fat/carb combos. They don’t try and fit in a certain number of fats into their daily intake, or reach a calorie goal, they just eat. They chose food which looks/tastes good, not because of calorie content or nutritional balance. When I do this, I’m super happy. It is how I was before, and how I want to be again.
There are times my body image is not horrendous. These occasions are rare, but I hold on tight to them because I get dragged into body hatred all too easily. For the first time ever, I tried on a bodycon dress in H&M the other day and it didn’t make me want to (a) chop off my legs (b) throw up at the sight (c) cry. Bonus. I didn’t buy the dress because I would never have the confidence to wear one, but the fact it didn’t look as horrible as I’d always imagined it would was quite reassuring. I have an arse now, a really bloomin’ big one, so it filled out the dress nicely. Shame about the upper body which is still, and always will be, the torso of a boy.
There are times I laugh, joke and smile. My eyes feel brighter, I hop down the stairs, I might even hop/skip/jump into the kitchen. The next day I could be drowned in a sea of darkness. Struggling to raise a half smile, dragging myself downstairs only to have a cigarette in the garden and then dragging myself back to bed. Smiling feels impossible, and it’s at these times where I can’t even remember why I’m doing this.
Why am I still eating far more than I’m comfortable with when I’m already fat? If I’m fatter than I’ve ever been, surely it’s time to stop now? I eat past hunger, I am satiated on smaller amounts of food and could easily eat less, a more normal amount and not feel deprived. So what stops me? What stops me eating a smaller, more manageable amount of food? Fear. Pure fear. Fear of undoing the work I’ve put in, fear than I’ll never get my period back, fear that I’ll get dragged back into the eating disorder. After reading that 2500 is the minimum requirement I’ve stuck to it despite feeling overly full on some days and having to catch up late at night. This is the bit I don’t like. I eat because I’m scared not to. I’m scared of doing damage by not eating 2500 calories, when I could easily stop at 2000 without feeling deprived of food and I’d be nicely full. I wish I knew when I could begin to eat normally. I could eat 3 decent meals and 3 decent snacks on a lesser amount of calories, which would mean I would gain weight at a more acceptable pace (slower) – it takes everything I have not to settle for less just yet.
Other random observations of recovery so far:
* I need to eat every 1-2 hours or I’m likely to punch somebody. I get moody when I’m hungry.
* I need to eat when I’m full in order to meet some sort of calorie goal. Despite the fact I can respond to hunger cues, and I do feel hunger, I need to over ride these some times.
* I haven’t needed to eat by the clock for a long, long time. There is no lunch “time”, lunch is whenever I’m hungry. Same for breakfast and dinner, I’ll eat when I’m hungry. (That said, I do have an undefined cut off point if I’m not having a ‘hungry day’ I’ll eat meals at a reasonable time regardless)
* What works for some won’t work for others. Anybody beginning recovery will need to find their own way. Some people prefer to work an exchange meal plan, some feel free to eat anything whenever they like, others follow calories. I prefer a mix. I like to have a basic structure of 3 x meal and 3 x snacks plus extras and like not having to refer to a specific plan. I know if I had a meal plan I would try to fit my food around it, whereas I enjoy fitting my food around me and I wouldn’t want to consciously think “Ooo I’m going against/over my plan here”. There is no plan. Food is the plan!
* I love eating out. Still. I always have, and always did eat out during my eating disorder but now I love it even more. 3 course slap up meals are a regular, at least weekly occurrence with our family and I love trying new tasty foods without freaking out. Oh, and restaurants do the best puds as well.
* Body temperature is much improved! It makes me wish I’d been in proper recovery over the Winter because I’m hot hot hot now.
* I eat different lunches now. I do still have an awful lot of sandwiches (easy option), but lunch isn’t always a sandwich. It could be scrambled egg on toast, could be beans on toast, or a wrap, or a salad with chunky bread – I don’t eat banana & pb on toast every single day like I used to.
* I cannot predict my moods. I can go to bed in a bright and happy mood and wake up with a face of thunder. There is no pattern, and it really does ruin a lot of things. There is also no ‘snapping out’ of it either, it is not that simple.
* I can sometimes eat on autopilot and not analyse my food choices, picking food because it feels like it’s something I want to eat.
* Other times I over think every single thing “are you choosing that because you actually want it? Or is it a safe choice?” “You will have to make the calories up later so might as well have something bigger now/You can’t eat something THAT big for lunch you crazy lady!”. And round we go.
* Recovery hasn’t made me any more sociable, yet. I’m hoping that will come. I need to get back in touch with the friends I isolated myself from, and see if they’re still around.
* I am less controlling and anxious about dinner these days. It does cross my mind, I can’t lie, and I do wonder what we’ll be having for dinner but I don’t ring my Mum at 9am and ask what we’re having. That is (marginal) progress. I get what I’m given, not what I’ve pushed for.
* I still really like chocolate and cake. I though as I allowed myself to eat more I would slow down on the sweet stuff, turns out I just love sweets. Multiple times a day.
* I don’t comment on portion sizes any more. They are sometimes too large, sometimes just right, and sometimes too small. I have learned to ask for more if it looks a bit wimpy, and chomp on down even if it’s too big.
* Sometimes, I absolutely love food. It’s usually when eating out and getting proper nice food which we haven’t bothered to cook.
* Other times, I am so completely and utterly fed up of food. Eating all. The. Time. Boring boring boring. I’ve eaten tasty stuff and sometimes it’s hard to get excited when you need to eat again regardless of whether you’re hungry or if you actually want it. Needs must.
* In all honesty, I don’t feel more energetic (quite the opposite), my joints hurt and I’ve done something dodgy to my knees which makes it difficult to walk for longer than 10 minutes. My moods are a lot worse now than they were during the eating disorder. I had more happier moments then than I do now which is a bit discouraging.
* I have realised that I will never be happy with my lot. Ever. I will always want what I can’t have, I will want the body I had pre-ed, or the body I had 10 lbs ago – even though I hated it then and thought I looked like an elephant. I will not see what other people see until it is too late. Now, I can see I looked great 10 lbs ago and would love to be back there but I know I can’t. I can’t lose weight because I’m not done yet. I need to accept that I will never be happy with my body and just live with it.
* Finally, I should say that even though it doesn’t feel like it yet, recovery has to be worth it simply for the relief on my parents faces. I’m too old to be struggling with this rubbish and putting pressure on my Mum and Dad. They should be well free of me now and yet they will likely always worry whether I’m eating enough. I don’t think I can ever forgive myself for this.
I still have a lot of work to do with regards to body image. It’s the hardest thing for me and that has come as a surprise. I never had a bad body image, my eating disorder didn’t bother with scales or weight or fat and now it’s gone full circle. I’ll eat all the food put in front of me, but looking at my body is another story. I won’t ever be known as ‘Little Meg’ again, instead I’m ‘Average Meg’.