I think if anyone can glean any “message” from my last couple posts, it’s that I had a rough week or so. With my upcoming genetics exam (that I took yesterday), I let stress beat me down and my ED take back some control.
I struggled. I struggled to make my meal plan, but I did. I engaged in negative and disordered thoughts, but I was conscious enough of the state I was in to eat what I needed to. I actually distracted myself most of the time by eating during class or while watching TV or while doing work. This goes against all the rules of “intuitive eating,” but let’s face it – a lot of the eating that I do isn’t “intuitive” so I’ll give myself a little room there 😉
But I pulled through. I took the test. And when I stood up to hand it in after time elapsed, all I could think was “Wow – why did I make myself so miserable over this test?”
The truth is, I studied my rear end/booty/butt/backside off for this test. I’ve actually been continually studying since the beginning of the semester. I was very well-prepared. Did I think the test was hard? There definitely were parts of it that I didn’t know, but there was a lot I did know. It was hard, but I was ready.
Another truth is that if I had let myself succumb entirely to the stress and disordered thoughts, all that preparation would have been for naught. I probably would have restricted…consciously or unconsciously, and then I would have been encountering obsessive thoughts over calories/weight/exercise. These obsessive thoughts would have taken over my life the last week, leaving me unable to focus for the test and, worse, in a disordered place after the test was over.
Actually, I was on that path. When I took tests last year that’s pretty much what always happened. What was different this time around?
SUPPORT! I got amazing support from you guys. I appreciate everyone’s comments because they are thought-provoking and help me to keep perspective. It’s so comforting to know that there are other strong young women such as myself that are going through the same thing I am or have gone through the same thing and are moved on to better things. So – thank you to everyone…so much…for picking me up when I needed it most.
I also reached out for support here at school. I utilized the support system that I’ve created here by talking to a couple of my good friends about what was going on and why I was struggling (namely – the test was stressing me out, and in response I was focusing more on disordered thoughts about my clothes not fitting and my body changing). I went to swim practice and focused on being present. I find that when I’m at practice I can usually let go of all the other things going on in my life and just swim. Just being around my teammates and working together through a practice was mind-clearing and stress-relieving.
AND – throughout my internet perusing I found an amazing, moving video. I honestly can’t remember where I found it originally (definitely on a blog, but for the last couple days I’ve been trying to remember which blog to no avail) but it helped me re-frame the thoughts I was having.
For the past week or so I haven’t been able to separate from my disordered thoughts. I knew they were there because I felt miserable but I couldn’t distinguish between what was disordered and what wasn’t. The truth is – most of it was probably disordered. My therapist was calling me out for “being disordered” our whole session last Friday. Slowly but surely, the disordered thoughts were taking over and disordered actions start to seem like a good idea again. In these times, I don’t see myself as “sick.” I even told my therapist last week that I don’t think I ever was sick (YES – I was speaking from a place that was really that disordered at the time). Her response was “If you were never sick then why are you here, and why have you been here for the last nine months?”
Good point. When very active, my disorder always tries to convince me that I’m really fine, that I never was sick, that having an eating disorder really isn’t all that bad anyway. What I sometimes forget is that is precisely the nature of the disease! I get lulled back into old habits and thoughts, and before I know it I’m back to where I started.
What really helped me to see my disordered thoughts for what they are was that video. The video is a moving message “to” an eating disorder spoken by famous British actors. Though I’ve never really seen my eating disorder as a separate “person” (like Jenni Schaefer does in “Life Without ED”) it has been helpful to be able to separate my rational thoughts as ME from my disordered thoughts as my disease. Every time I caught myself thinking a disordered thought this week, I repeated the last line in the video to myself. The last line is “The only thing that was ever ugly about me – was YOU.” It’s really a powerful statement and I filled in the “ugly” portion with whatever I was feeling about myself at the time – stupid, fat, hopeless, worthless, etc etc etc. Whenever I started feeling bad, this statement helped me stop the negative thoughts and move on.
Here’s a link to the video – I highly recommend it for anyone suffering from negative or disorder thoughts.
I hope that someday I won’t have to deal with the constant negative and disordered thoughts when I’m in a stressful situation. For now, though, I think it is enough to be able to recognize and combat those thoughts. I sometimes forget that recovery doesn’t happen overnight and get mad at myself for still having these thoughts. However, I have to be patient with myself (something I have difficulty with since I am both impatient and stubborn) and to remember that rome wasn’t built in a day! I have my whole life to live, and I just have to keep growing and improving on a daily basis. That’s all I that anyone can really ask of themselves.
Thank you to everyone again for their kind and thoughtful comments! Happy Friday!