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?