Early thoughts

I was looking through an old journal of mine from early on in my recovery, and I found something I wrote that I wanted to post here because it really represents, for me, where I started and how far I’ve come.

Here it goes…

“It starts with some weight loss. Some good-hearted compliments – ‘you look great,’ ‘ you’re SO SKINNY,’ ‘how did you do it?’ Everyone wants a piece of what you seem to have gotten. What they don’t know is that you had to pay the ultimate price – yourself.

But you like what you hear. You know you will feel better if you just lose a little more. One size less? No big deal. This is America, where everyone could use to lose that “extra weight.”

One day you look in the mirror and instead of seeing something you like you see fat. Lots of it. Big, extra fat that must be eliminated.

So you try a little harder. You cut out dairy. You heard on the news that it’s fattening and high in cholesterol. That can’t be good.

Then goes the bread and pasta. White carbohydrates raise blood sugar and make you hungrier! Being hungry isn’t good, because that means you’ll just want to eat even more.

And then there goes the meat – it’s better for the environment and puts a dent in your bank account to boot.

You cut out cereal because it has too high a glycemic index. You replace snacks with coffee, because it has antioxidants and boosts your metabolism. You’re ‘too busy’ to eat lunch so you eat a granola bar while in the library.

Desserts? Those were the first to go, months ago. Those cookies your teammates are eating? Not you, sister. You’re special – if you ate those you’d blow up like a balloon.

You’re left with salad, apples, soup, and whole wheat tortillas with a layer of peanut butter so thin it can’t be more than half a tablespoon – in spite of the fact that you tell the nutritionist it’s two tablespoons.

You’re left to survive rigorous pre-med classes and four hours of swimming a day on coffee, egg whites, and clif bars.

But what you’re really left with is that feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day – when you climb wearily into bed, you lie down, close your eyes – and all you feel is the grumble of hunger pangs. You know you’ve done the right thing, for once.

You swim faster for awhile, and hold your grades together. Then – one bad meet goes by and everyone thinks it’s a fluke. You’re way better than that. And you try to lose even more weight. But suddenly, the second meet comes and you’re swimming in the warm up pool the whole time trying to shake off the chill you can’t seem to get rid of. You spend so much energy trying to get warm that you have nothing left for your race. And then the third meet comes and goes, and people start to think you just don’t love the sport anymore.

All the while you’re standing behind the blocks thinking about how fat you look in front of a whole crowd of people.”

I’m not really sure why I wrote this from someone else’s perspective. I wrote it so long ago and in such a different frame of mind. I wrote it when I was trying to ascertain where I went wrong – where I crossed the line between diet and disorder, healthy and sick. I guess I was talking to myself trying to figure out where I let myself slip into the eating disorder.

It’s really important to remember that your past will always be a part of you, and you might still be struggling now, but someday it will be better. Someday, I will have so much else surrounding me that is healthy and so much more of an identity that I won’t have any room or patience for the pointless, irrational, disordered thoughts.

That was what my therapist and I discussed today in therapy. I told her how much I was struggling last week (though she pretty much figured that out from our last therapy discussion) and she said I need to stop beating myself up. Not only did she say that, she said my thoughts are actually abusive to myself.

My response was: “I know, and it makes me so mad because it’s so….F*CKED UP.”

But then she said something that made a lot of sense. Me beating myself up is just an opportunity for my eating disorder to take control. Basically – me beating myself up for not being “recovered enough” is opening the door for my disorder. She said I just need to accept that I’m at a place where I still have disordered thoughts, but that I know in the future there will be no place for those thoughts. And I agree.

Then I asked her what I can do to fill the “places” that my disorder currently fills. She said that she made a goal list of goals that are not just tangible accomplishments such as “Run a marathon” or “Get an A in Psych.” I asked her what exactly that would entail, and she said one of hers is to make a photography website for herself and her other is to connect more with friends because she’s a homebody. She told me to make a master list, but then make copies and carry one with me everywhere I go so I have a constant reminder to keep perspective and remember that this stupid disorder really has no place in the life I will be living in the future.

And she said the key is to do one brave thing per day by taking at least five minutes every day to work towards at least one of the goals. That way, every night I can get into bed knowing that I took a step towards the healthy life I want to be living.

So right now I’m working on those goals πŸ™‚ and it makes me feel really good inside to be moving forward. Yes, I’m moving forward with parts of my disorder still intact. However, each brave thing I do everyday – big or small – takes another chunk of power and control away from my disorder.

When I’m finished with the goals I’m going to post them here too!!

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4 Responses to Early thoughts

  1. Sarah says:

    Kim,
    I love that approach to recovery. You’re so so so right that beating yourself up over not recovering perfectly only feeds the ED. I do the exact same thing and everytime I start hating on myself I always end up resorting back to my ED habits. You’re so smart to have made that connection and being able to recognize how the negative thoughts start that cycle will only benefit you : ).
    Your journal entry was amazing…I relate to absolutely everything you said about feeling weak and disconnected. The hardest thing is that even though we know how empty we felt in the thick of our EDs, ED still tries to convince us that we were happy during that time once we’re working on recovery. It’s very very tricky, so so hard to discern the disordered thoughts from the healthy ones.
    Thanks so much for your encouraging comments on my blog, I appreciate your support so much : )
    Sarah

    • Kim says:

      Thanks so much! It sucks when your ED is screaming at you for NOT being disordered…it’s so hard to differentiate!! But it’s nice to know that I’m not alone πŸ™‚

  2. muchfruit says:

    This is one of the best descriptions of an eating disorder I have read. Seriously. People assume that an eating disorder is something I consciously chose, something I realized I was doing. It wasn’t! It was a series of small decisions, each that “made sense” at the time and was reinforced by our society’s wacked out approach to food and exercise. As I made more and more of those decisions, I fell deeper into an eating disorder but I didn’t know it. I began to think that I was the exception (like you said,) that I was special in some way, that I put on weight easier and thus needed less food and nutrients than everyone else because putting on weight=unhealthy. I NEVER thought “I have an eating disorder” when I was at my sickest; I truly thought I was making healthy decisions. I had just lost touch with reality.

    You are a really talented writer, and I know you are going to beat this! Your therapist is right–just apply the sense of determination that you use to master other goals towards small recovery goals, and you will find yourself there all of a sudden!

    • Kim says:

      Thanks so much for your kinds words about my writing πŸ™‚ I love to write, but naturally I want people to relate to and enjoy reading what I write as well! I totally agree with what you said too about losing touch with reality. It’s sad to look back and recognize where all those decisions eventually led, but it also shows that what happened wasn’t a *choice* – a really important realization in recovery.

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