progress?

Life is (predictably) strange at the moment. I’ve made a lot of changes very rapidly and I’ve lost track of my priorities and how I’m doing really.

This week, my priority has been placed on feeling ok and not dwelling. I know that if I just sit and be sad, it’ll probably have a negative impact on my recovery, so I’ve actively been pushing myself to have a lot more social contact and get out in the world. I’ve actually had a hectic week. As soon as my relationship ended, I was out with some friends playing in the snow. The next day I contacted everyone I know to try to start getting back in on life. I ran around to get piercings and dye my hair. I’ve been actually out, been to parties, been to lunches, had people over,had social coffee stops and drunk. A lot. I’ve probably drunk more this week than I have in the whole of the past year. My brain feels pretty fried, but there’s quite a high chance I’ll do it again tonight.

On some level, I think that these past few days have really highlighted my progress. I’ve not been so focused on my eating disorder or food. I’ve been able to engage with people about other things and started to feel like my life isn’t defined by anorexia or recovery. I’ve spoken to people I’ve been actively avoiding for a long time and realised that (to my surprise), most people are willing to pick up exactly where I left off. I’m being invited to things and talking to people and finding out that actually, not everyone hated me being around and they don’t completely hate it now. And that I can laugh a lot more than I thought was possible. I’m having fun. Real, young person fun.

But, as is the way with recovery I guess, its not that simple.

This past month or so, I’ve been making real recovery progress. Or at least I’ve felt like I have. I’m no longer weighing myself, counting calories and measuring all my foods. I’m challenging myself a lot more with food and putting myself in difficult eating situations. All of this feels really positive and I do genuinely feel like I care a lot less right now about my calorie intake and weight. This should all be positive. And until this morning, I really thought it was.

I’ve stopped taking olanzapine – predominantly so I can go out with people and be able to fill myself with uppers and downers and actually enjoy being social. Taking something that makes you tired and groggy all day and knocks you out by midnight doesn’t exactly prime you for social activity, regardless of potential intoxication, but it’s interactions with other chemicals only further this. The team doesn’t seem to agree that this is a good idea, but I don’t know whether I agree with them. I get that the medication may well improve a lot of my symptoms, but having friends and being involved with life might do too, and I’d like my recovery to lead to having fun rather than sitting alone. This might not be entirely smart though, and I can’t pretend that the potential weight gain side effects hasn’t played a part in my decision because it completely has. I’ve really noticed the upsurge in anxiety since I stopped taking them. I’m not sure of the right thing to do here is.

On top of that, I’m not monitoring my progress. I have no idea how much I weigh and have stopped keeping track of my intake. I’m vaguely following a meal plan I guess, but alcohol leads to late nights, missed evening snacks, late breakfasts, missed morning snacks and a noticeable drop in appetite. Equally though, alcohol leads to the calories involved in drinking (but still, only really vodka diet coke, though occasionally wine), less exercise and occasionally nibbling on other people’s chips and little bites of birthday cake. I’ve also been eating higher calorie things sometimes too, like cheesecake and lunches out. I’ve had way less control over my intake really and I honestly have no idea if I’m eating more or less. I feel like I’m eating more than ever and have gained a huge amount of weight, but I’m not entirely sure my interpretations are the most trustworthy. Everything got a bit chaotic and I don’t really know where I’m at. I know I’m not eating the food I should be eating, but I am ingesting calories that fall outside my meal plan and strict, self-imposed meal limits. I honestly have no idea whether I’m eating too much or too little, gaining or losing or maintaining. It could be any of those options right now. Is it a good thing that I’m less aware of this and eating anyway? Is it good that I’m breaking out of rigid control and routine?

At the same time, I’m still making lower calorie substitutions. Not by much, but I know I am. If I know I’ll be drinking, I won’t have a higher calorie dinner, I’ll have a lower calorie one. If I’ve had a snack out, I’ll pick my lowest calorie lunch option. More often than not, my desserts have turned into fat-free yogurt again and that’s never a good sign (what is it with me and yogurt?). I’ve gone from having ice-cream every day to not having any for weeks. I justify it by saying “I missed my yogurt snack and have to eat two a day for my digestion” but I’m not really sure that flies. I’m making tiny adjustments constantly to make up for all the alcohol I’ve been drinking. This probably isn’t good.

Plus alcohol and drastic image changing aren’t exactly the healthiest possible ways to deal with negative emotions. Friends definitely are healthy, but being drunk a lot probably isn’t a good sign, and the psychologist announced last session that my desire to change my hair only highlights body dissatisfaction and my piercings are only self harm in a socially acceptable form. I don’t think I agree and it actually really pisses me off that he said this, but it is something to think about I guess. Still, I love piercings and don’t see why I’d spend money I don’t have on self-injury when it could be entirely free and I’m working so hard to avoid it. As for my hair – it hasn’t been its natural colour for so long I’m not even sure what colour it is anymore. I’ve not liked my hair colour for such a long time that I don’t really think me changing it again highlights all that much. The alcohol aspect worries me though. I’ve used alcohol to avoid difficult feelings in the past and I don’t want to do that again. I don’t want to use it as just another form of avoidance. Right now, I don’t think it’s a problem, but it could become one if I keep this up. And with more drinking events lined up for the next week, I’m not sure I’ve got a handle on it. It definitely isn’t a problem right now – it’s social and nice and fun. As long as I actually deal with my emotions, it should be fine I think. I don’t know. Should I be worried? I do know it helps me get to sleep. It doesn’t stop the nightmares, but at least I’m getting a solid 6 hours a night.

And I’m still avoiding my journal like the plague. I don’t want to write about what’s happening and how I feel all that much right now. I don’t want to consider the repercussions of my actions. I really don’t want to dwell on my thoughts and emotions right now. I’ve stopped feeling like I’m running, but maybe I still am.

Then again, I’m having an understandably shit week and I’m trying to deal with it in a positive way. I don’t feel deprived, I feel unusually free of eating disordered thoughts and I’m having fun. I am trying to monitor my intake still, but it’s kinda falling by the wayside and losing it’s importance. In my mind, that could be a sign of real progress, but I’m not positive anymore. All I know is that I’m engaging in the world and that has to be a good thing.

I hate how much I have to second guess myself. I hate how aware of my actions and my health I have to be. The people around me don’t think this way. Maybe this is all entirely normal and healthy. I’m probably just exaggerating the risks. I’m eating and drinking like no ones business. I must have gained a whole load in the past few weeks. Most people drink with their friends when they’re having a bit of a rubbish time. Most people don’t fret too much over whether they’re eating too much or too little due to the calories in alcohol. Maybe all of this is entirely fine and normal. These are all normal reactions I think. I’m probably totally fine.

None of this helps me with the guilt of benefits. I’ve been tested for ESA recently and my benefits have increased and I’ve been put in the support group side of things, so am not expected to look for work right now. I don’t feel like I really deserve that and feel like a fraud. I didn’t lie at all, but still feel like I’m somehow cheating. I honestly thought I was just going to lose it completely, but instead it’s more than doubled. Then there’s uni, which is just starting to put the pressure on and I just want to leave. I don’t think I’m anywhere near writing a good easy or giving a good presentation right now. Argh! Why is everything always at once?

So I guess the point of this post is that I’m looking for advice. Should I be worried or is this all fine? I honestly don’t know whether I’m coping in a healthy way and keeping up my progress or absolutely falling apart. I guess no one can know right now. It just bothers me. I guess this is what the treatment team are for, so maybe it’s a waiting game till I see them. I see the psychiatrist on Monday, then spend a stupid amount of Valentine’s day being weighed and in therapy. I just don’t know what to say to them because I don’t know if I should be worried or if any of this is even a big deal.

Why is this all so confusing?

Moan over.

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7 Comments

Filed under life, recovery

7 responses to “progress?

  1. He hun! Hugs! Ofcourse there’s nothing wrong with going out for a drink and a dance, even not when it’s just to get your mind off of things. Everyone does that. The fact that you’re worrying though that you’re drinking might be getting a little too routinely is definately a sign that it’s not just all good fun anymore. The alarmbells don’t ring for nothin’. So, take a step back. And also, it’s so easy to let ED trick you into thinking you’re going with the (right) flow of things and you’re doing the intuitive thing. But you’ve been skipping. And you’ve been choosing and picking. And you’ve been substituting for alcohol. That is not good. Not in any context or situation. Not for anyone, and especially not for someone recovering. It’s letting the voices back in. Stop them NOW. Get your intake back up. You KNOW the drinks and late night chips are EXTRA’s and not exchanges. Alcoholcalories are NOT included in your mealplan, I’m quite sure of that.. And if it’s late breakkie, make sure it’s a double one. Top your oats with extra chocolate/nuts/pb etc. to get the cals back in.
    I applaud you for tackling ‘real life’ again! Yay for socializing. Yay for going out and having fun! Yay to midnight drunken chips. Just don’t let it become an excuse. And make sure someone monitors you. If you get regular weigh ins at the doc, they’ll keep an eye on things. If you feel like it isn’t enough, just ask the parentals. Maybe they can do a little check every week or so, they don’t need to tell you the numbers and you still won’t need the scale back?
    Keep rockin and rollin!
    Love

    • I know. Alcohol is ON TOP of food. I keep trying to tell myself that. I know there’s definite signs of ED slipping back in to my daily routine, but I just can’t seem to find a way out of it. I’m trying to add more calories in, but the lack of appetite really doesn’t help. I don’t even think I’m close to the intuitive thing at all. I’m eating when I’m not hungry, not eating when I am, and still vaguely trying to follow a meal plan. I just feel so much more carefree about it all, but I know in reality that just seems to be proving I’m letting the ED back in. Part of me thinks I just need to take some time out, but then at the same time, I really don’t want that because any time alone is dangerous right now.

      I don’t know what to do really. I know I shouldn’t be making all these negotiations but I don’t think I can socialise without them.

      ARGH x.

      • Maybe you feel more carefree because you’re letting ED compromise again.. You know?

        Your friends know your struggles right? Some of them know about your blog? I’ve seen comments appear of them here and there? That should prove you CAN socialize without the negotiations. They’re still here for you. So, even when you might feel a bit off (or, in my case; superduperselfconscious?) because you’re not compromising with ED for a while, they’ll know it’s only because you’re trying to overcome all of this. I’m having the same problem with compromising with ED. It keeps me from being me. It just means I get to PRETEND I’m me. So anything to shut ED back up again is good right now. No compromising. No negotiating. No substituting.

        And that alcoholtrain? Sometimes serious drinking = theleastserious conversations = good old silly times. And I don’t like chips (I know right?!) unless I’m drunk. Oh man, nothing better than chips when drunk. .

  2. I’d say Sooz is spot on. Getting out and socialising is brilliant, it is part of normal life and a young person should be out and about seeing friends. It’s stupid ED’s which make this difficult so the fact you’re doing it is entirely a good thing.

    Drinking, in moderation, is ok too, it’s what people do. But alcohol calories do not count towards your meal plan at all, they should be an added bonus and having lighter dinners isn’t the way forward either. I’ve always gone the other way when I have a night drinking planned, and make sure I have a big dinner because I get drunk a lot easier than I used to! If I don’t have a big dinner I’m gone after a few drinks haha, food in my stomach helps me last a bit longer :) and then after drinking munchies help calorie wise & to soak up the vodka.

    You can do it all. You can go out and see your friends, you can have some drinks, you can continue to eat your normal food. Making low cal substitutions is an easy habit to let back in, and can be quite hard to get back out again so the sooner you can turn that around the better.

    I can see why you’re confused over whether it’s progress or not, I feel the same when I feel like I’ve made real progress I’m constantly questioning my actions and if I’ve compromised. Letting go of restrictive routines can definitely be a good thing, as long as you’re continuing to gain weight. Rigidity is a hard part of an ED to break out of so allowing yourself some freedom is good as long as it’s not detrimental to anything else. Basically, I don’t know if you’re coping in a healthy way or not because I face the same dilemmas! What I will say though, is that the fact you’re out and socialising is ACE. Go you :)

    • Thank you! Sometimes it’s just so hard to know what the real motivations for anything are isn’t it? I hate it. So much. Why can’t it be as simple as “want/need/do” like it seems to be for so many other people. I think that maybe breaking routines is dangerous territory for me right now though.

      Lower calorie substitutions are something I can’t seem to get back out again though. This is actually a real problem for me at the moment. I just can’t seem to change my ways at all and it’s horrible. Argh!

      Socialisng is brilliant though. So much better than being sad alone x.

  3. MEH, life is confusing… i think we just have to roll with it!!

    i have to say i think that this IS a positive step. Its a step you needed to take anyways, to see that you dont need to follow rigid rules and make sure everything is “just so”… people our age go out and drink, and then get up late and dont worry about having their am snack by a certain time etc… they just LIVE. altho i think its important that you do try and keep a track on whats going in (and not just the booze young lady!!) so that you dont fool yourslef into thinking your having alot more when your actually just getting by…. ED can be a sneaky one when it comes to “overestimating” that bite of cake or couple of chips. i mean would you count a couple of grapes in the same way that you’d count a couple of chips?!?! probably not!!! but in actual calorific energy terms, they both count, right?!

    Anyways, im glad you are having some fun… you deserve to let that newly coloured hair down and party like its going out of fashion :-) just remember to take aminute now and then to ask yourself how youre feeling INSIDE…. (and i dont just mean, “urgh i feel siiiiiiick…” hair of the dog, hair of the DAWG!!!) hehe.
    x

    • How I feel is such a mystery right now. I try to work it out, but then I think “I DON’T KNOW” and give up pretty quickly.

      If I’m honest though, I don’t think I’m doing enough. If I want to keep up with this whole social thing, I need to be making sure that it keeps ED at bay and right now, I’m not so sure. Gah! I hate this confussion x.

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