Hi everyone! Long time no blog update, so I figured I would once again just provide a little bit of insight into how my life has been going recently.
I’ve been doing relatively well in IOP. Eating is still a massive chore, and lately I’ve been feeling very augmented desires to restrict and overexercise. Trying not to give into these behaviors is extremely difficult.
However, I’ve also been doing things that challenge my eating disorder. I’ve eaten at restaurants several times lately, and just the other day, I did what my dietitian challenged me to do at our most recent meeting and did not plan ahead at all for my lunch. I went out to eat at a lovely little Italian restaurant on Newbury Street and just spontaneously ordered something off the menu. I’m not gonna lie: this was painful. I spent a solid fifteen minutes agonizing over the menu and finally decided upon something that i knew would fit my exchanges. I then proceeded to eat all of it, which was also quite strenuous, but still felt a real sense of accomplishment afterwards.
Just a few days beforehand, this Monday, I found out that insurance wants me to step down to outpatient sooner rather than later. My case manager managed to bargain with them and secure me another three sessions, but I’m still terrified; I wasn’t expecting to be kicked out to try and combat my eating disorder with just the help of a dietitian and a psychologist quite so soon. This is especially scary because of the increased urges to use behaviors that I mentioned earlier. Despite this, I managed to go two and a half whole months without using behaviors.
But then I experienced a roadblock.
Last night I decided I wanted to challenge myself once more and ended up ordering takeout from a restaurant for dinner. I put the food on my plate and stared at it. If food could stare back, that’s what this was doing. It was pasta with a pesto sauce, sauteed kale and asparagus, and chicken. I added some strawberries, carrots, tea, and milk to round out my exchanges. I then threw the pasta concoction into the microwave and then sat with it once more.
Then I did something I haven’t done in forever. I picked up my napkin and dabbed at the food. I blotted out some of the oil.
This is a behavior. It’s a form of restricting.
Just two days earlier on Friday, like I said before, I managed to attain two and a half months without giving into behaviors.
And then yesterday I cracked.
I immediately felt a surge of shame and self-loathing that was twofold; I felt disgusted with myself for using a behavior, but also the usual sense of disgust that comes with having to eat.
I have always been a perfectionist. It’s part of what’s driven my eating disorder; it’s what allowed it to spiral so completely out of control. I had this insane idea in my head that I would somehow reach perfection if I could just be a little bit smaller; if I could just eat a little less; if I could just somehow regulate exactly how I looked. And once I started fighting for my life, refusing to use behaviors and forcing myself to constantly do the difficult work of eating and not doing anything to compensate for what I put in my mouth, the perfectionism reared its ugly head again. It told me that I had to do recovery perfectly. I had to eat all my exchanges, I had to maintain my weight exactly, and I had to learn how to love myself.
This hasn’t happened. Instead, I caved and used a behavior that was caused by such a strong surge of body-consciousness and anxiety the likes of which I haven’t experienced in quite a while. And earlier that day I had almost decided to skip lunch.
In short, yesterday was quite a horrible day. I felt physically ill, but more so, I felt mentally unwell. I started to want to be the girl I used to be; the girl who was consumed by her eating disorder.
I let the demons in my head get the better of me.
I was ashamed. But then, fortunately, I remembered something that was sort of my saving grace. Something I’d written about not too long ago.
Recovery isn’t perfect. Just like the hilarious monstrosity that is the lie of one-size-fits-all clothes, there is no exact way to recover. It’s not a straight shot. There will be bumps along the road. There will be times where you get completely lost. Yesterday was one of those times for me.
Does this mean that I’m a failure?
Absolutely not. No matter how much my disorder attempts to convince me that I will never be good enough unless I give into what it demands of me, I refuse to lose hope.
I originally considered not even writing about this. I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I had restricted. It felt wrong.
But I’ve always prided myself on being honest. And to be deceitful like that is probably the biggest behavior of all.
So when my mum asked me if I had tried to blot some of the oil off my food, I decided to tell the truth. “Yes,” I admitted, hanging my head. “I did.”
Does that mean it will happen again?
Maybe. Who knows? Mistakes happen. I’m writing my life in pen, for heaven’s sakes. If I make a mistake, my only option is to cross it out. It’s permanently there; it can’t be erased.
So maybe I ruined my streak. Maybe I won’t ever go so long again without using behaviors. Or maybe I will. Who knows?
The important thing is that I keep trying. And I would say the same to anyone else fighting a similar battle right now. Never stop trying. Never stop fighting to live.
Because you only get one shot at it. And even though your eating disorder will try its damndest to break you; even though at times it might succeed, never stop. Hold your head high and know that you are beautiful and valuable just the way you are, and that a mistake does not a relapse make. Every time you make even the littlest bit of progress, you are fighting for your life. It’s the most difficult battle anyone could ever fight. You deserve so much more than to forever be relegated to a life dictated by the awful monster that is an eating disorder.
Cause guess what?
Broken crayons still color.