As expected, the world picks up the bags and moves on and I do with it.
I’m actually getting better at catching myself before I let myself get carried away in moods, which is pretty great actually. I had a few days of moping about. I cried in Costa because I didn’t want to eat a muffin as I’m already too fat, tried on every pair of jeans, shorts and skirts I own in order to throw out everything that doesn’t fit (which by the way, was one pair of jeans that I borrowed off the ex-boy when everything I owned was too big. That boy is tiny I swear), watched way too much Supersize Vs. Superskinny (it is a well documented fact that this program is an emotional minefield for those with eating disorders. It’s compelling because diets and bodies and food are obviously compelling to those with eating disorders, but it’s also really triggering. During anorexia, I’d watch to pick up “tricks” from the undereaters. In recovery, I watch the undereaters with such jealousy, but equally cannot help but compare my diet to the overeater and think I’m ridiculous and fat. It’s seriously awful T.V. and it plays havoc with my mind) on 4od purely to feel bad about my life and turned my phone off for a couple of days so I could ignore people better. Then I realised I was being an idiot, turned on my phone and started moving back into a more wholesome existence again. It takes a lot of effort to get out of a mope, but I can actually do it and it is obviously better when I do. This might seem bare obvious, but a couple of months ago, I wasn’t convinced it was worth it at all so I was basically always moping.
Now though, I’m beginning to get to grips with what pulls me out of my negative moods. The phrase “the next right thing” makes perfect sense . When things start to go a little bit pear-shaped, stop, think, then do the next right thing. Some of these things I think that help me are –
- Spending some one-on-one time with a close friend. I find it easier to be social if it’s just with one person at a time. Too many people overwhelms me and I end up uncomfortable and end up disconnecting from the situation and freaking out. One-on-one, I’m able to stay more grounded and engaged in the scenario. Plus (consciously or not), my friends are pretty supportive socially and are able to carry the conversation along without me feeling too pressured. In groups though, I have the option to pull out of the situation, so I do, which just makes me feel worse about future social activities.
- If a meal or snack is particularly hard and I end up pushing it back incredibly late, relying on safe food or missing it all together, make up for it as soon as possible. If a cake is making me cry, put it to one side, but come back to it later when I’m less emotional and finish the damn cake. Sometimes eating is too painful for whatever reason, but I always feel better if I make up for any slips during the day before I go to bed, even if that means eating over 1000kcals half an hour before I go to sleep. Otherwise, it carries over to the next day and its even harder to motivate myself, especially now I’m well within the healthy weight range so find the need for more weight gain hard to accept.
- Spending a few days eating foods I’m comfortable with. I don’t mean safe foods or under-eating or relying on rituals and obsessions, I just find that sometimes if I’m I get really moody, eating a lot of restaurant foods or let my eating get too chaotic or things like that makes me feel even worse, so taking a few days to really stick to the meal plan, working really consciously on the challenges my team have set me and eating at the right times of day help make me feel more positive about my recovery. Then once I’ve built up my resources for coping with challenging eating scenarios, I’m better able to start trying them again . These challenging scenarios are becoming more and more regular though. Now, if I go more than a few days without eating something more difficult for me (such as takeaways or restaurant meals), I start really wanting to get out there and push myself some more. Mostly because the food is tasty.
- If things are really bad, calling someone up and having someone to talk to as soon as possib;e. There are a few people who seem to make time for me whenever I need (and obviously I hope I do the same), helping me navigate my moods and thoughts with a lot of positive reinforcement, helpful advice and generally just being about to show me they care for me. These are my crucial people and generally at least one of them can be available in an instant if needs be. As long as I remember to use this incredible support system, I generally start to feel better. Getting out of my own head really helps me. Often, I forget that the views and opinions of others may be both different, and more rational than my own.
- Wearing ridiculous clothes. If I start getting uncomfortable in my body, the worst thing I can do is start covering it up in baggy t-shirts and layers. I start to feel like that’s what I should be doing and it just makes me feel more miserable and ugly. When I’m feeling self-conscious about my belly, the best thing I can do is put on a cropped t-shirt or a really tight dress. If it’s my ginormous thighs that are causing me problems, tiny shorts and skirts only. Manly shoulders and fat upper arms? Time to go strapless. Generally, if I keep wearing ridiculous clothes (which usually leads to me to look pretty trashy) and showing off the bits I hate, when I get compliments, I feel like it’s because the bits I think are bad aren’t so bad after all. Plus it gives me a chance to really work the parts I hate, forcing me to get comfortable with them. It’s like exposure therapy and it works. Fake it ’till you make it init.
- Working extra hard at my uni work. It makes me feel less tangled up with the eating disorder, shows me how far I’ve come in regards to concentrating, I feel all productive and I get real satisfaction out of it. Finding non-eating disordered/recovery ways to be productive makes me feel a lot better.
- Listening/reading/looking at/using the things my friends and famo have made (or on occasion, bought) for me in the past few months. It reminds me that actually, for reasons that are unknown to me, people seem to care a whole load about me. It always cheers me up and makes me antsy to want to get back to being more social with them. I’ve said it before, but I am super lucky to have people around that give me so much time of day.
- Sometimes, I start to worry I’m losing myself as I stop leaving time for things that help me feel like me. I get caught up in other things, which definitely isn’t a negative by any means, but does end up with me losing sleep as I don’t leave time to wind down properly. However, when I worry I’m really losing touch with who I am and want to be, I plan. I plan my day, making sure I have time for all the things I need to do to get back to myself (like journalling, my bed time routine, therapy work, creative things etc). In just a few days I start feeling more like me and am better able to prioritize my time and make the most of my days. Sometimes I start to forget to take the time to care for myself properly, so I just need to really actively remind myself of that.
- Pampering myself with vast amounts of face masks, nail varnish, conditioners, exfoliants, moisturisers and other silly cosmetic bits. Making my body feel absolutely lovely and giving myself a reason to really appreciate why it can be fantastic to have a body at all is always good.
Right now, these things take a conscious effort to remember to do when I start getting really down about life, but I’m hoping that if I keep doing them, they’ll become second nature ways to care for myself and I’ll find even more things to add to my list.
With regards to my ongoing challenges, I alerted my team to my walking issues and have been given set targets and goals to work towards. This week, I have to cut down to two hours maximum walking a day. I actually think that’s quite prohibitive (for instance, what about if I want to go to a museum/shopping/other actually fun task?), but I’m going to try my best to stick to it. Yesterday was quite bad – I got very anxious and wound up, I got a massive upsurge in urges to engage in other seriously destructive behaviours and cried a bit. I just tried to distract myself a lot till it was time for bed and although it took a while, I eventually got to sleep. Today won’t be so bad because I had yoga this morning, but tomorrow is a day I’m seriously not looking forward to. I’m unsure of how I’ll manage this to be honest. Imposing a maximum scares me a lot because what if it just isn’t enough? I hope I’ll be ok. I have lots of therapy work to do this week so I guess it’s not going to be to fun for the next few days, but I’m just going to try to give my challenges my all.
Seriously, sometimes my whole life feels ridiculous. All the things I’m being taught to do – exercise less, eat more in general, increase my fat intake, increase my processed food intake, eat out more, eat more meat (especially red meat), spend more time looking after myself, gain weight etc. It’s so counterintuitive. What I’m trying to achieve seems so different from what the news/people/the vast majority of the internet etc. applaud in people. Sometimes it gets to me as it makes me feel all backwards and like I’m doing everything wrong. Got to remember to trust in my team and the people who care about me. Right now, my needs are actually different from the needs of those whom all this advice is aimed at. I have to remember that. Sometimes it is hard and I feel like a failure.
Other times though, I kinda think “PAH! Look at all that hard work! I totally have to do the opposite. More chocolate? Om nom nom.”