Tag Archives: eating disorder

On the subject of bravery

Wow. If I put off writing this like two days, I’d have spaced my blog posts apart exactly one year. Oops.

I could make a bunch of apologies or excuses or whatever, but what it really boils down to is the fact that this hasn’t been a huge priority for me; the whys and wherefores aren’t all that evident even to me and, in the end, aren’t particularly important. I don’t have it within me to make promises of more frequent posts, but the world is full of exciting surprises, so who knows.

The subject of bravery keeps appearing in my life and it’s something I have a complicated relationship with. I’ve made several choices over the years that others have called “brave” while I just knew the choices had to be made. I’d have called those same choices “brave” in others, which does lead me to wonder if anyone truly feels brave when they’re in the midst of an act of bravery.

At some indeterminate time either early this year or late last year, I started slipping after experiencing some pretty solid months concerning all things related to eating and weight. I could retrace exactly what went down, but it’s truthfully a rather dull series of events that eventually culminated in a plan that I never named but should probably have been called My Very Own Plan To Relapse But Only For Ten Weeks And Then I’ll Stop Because It’s Not Like This Is A Slippery Slope Of Deceit And Doom Or Anything. 

So, long story short, I went down the rabbit hole as it were and ended up in a place that, if I’m honest with myself, is the worst I’ve ever been eating-disorder-wise. I’ve fooled myself into thinking I’m not as bad as I was in 2009 because I haven’t lost the same amount of weight (yet), haven’t fainted in a library (yet), haven’t had many major physical side effects (yet)…but at my Previous Worst Place, I was at least completely unaware of what I was doing to myself. This time around, I’m painfully self-aware. I have made some really unwise decisions for months based on fear (so. much. fear) and the lies that come free (!!!!!) with your purchase of the Eating Disorder Starter Pack and have spent the past couple of months telling myself that I’ve been in a holding pattern when it has been confirmed by reliable sources that I am, in fact, getting worse.

It’s been exhausting. The initial excitement of dropping weight and hiding something has worn off – partially because I’m not dropping weight and I’m not hiding things like I was earlier this year, but also because it’s draining in general. I’ve had to drop two of the three classes I was enrolled in this semester; I’ve had to reenter ALL THE THERAPIES; and I feel as if my life has become some sort of shrine to Not Eventually Killing Myself By Way Of An Eating Disorder.

export

Original image source: Hyperbole and a Half | Template source: Know Your Meme

So, after weeks of just sort of flopping around like a lost Magikarp (that’s right: I play Pokémon Go. I’m a cool mom. Minus the mom part.), my dietitian (who’s super rad and has her own blog that she updates slightly more often than I update mine) said the Dreaded T Word (“treatment”) – literally hours after I’d had the following thought:

No one will ever tell me to go into treatment because I’m not like dying or anything.

Or something to that effect.

Anyway, the past few weeks have involved several discussions about Treatment or “a higher level of care” (a phrase which I’m like 99.9% sure is stamped all over every textbook pertaining to the clinical treatment of mental illnesses because it keeps popping up everywhere I turn right now). After an assessment and some discussions with my counselor, my dietitian, my friends, my pastor, my job, my insurance company, the jack o’ lantern I carved last week, and probably the entire cast of Grey’s Anatomy or something, I’ve decided to go into a three-evening-per-week IOP (intensive outpatient program).

At this point, it’s just something that needs to happen. I don’t like it. Parts of it are terrifying, and frankly, every aspect of starting any sort recovery sucks. The number of times I’ve used the phrase “lose-lose situation” over the past couple of months is…a lot. But, it just needs to happen. As one of my very favorite poems says, “If you aren’t recovering, you are dying.”

While I’d love to say this decision was a no-brainer, it honestly wasn’t. These disorders are gross and giant and have creepy talons and a lot of empty promises. They’re coping mechanisms, so they serve a purpose (or at least did at one time), and when it comes time to give them up…it’s legitimately hard. It’s not even about the weight; it’s about having something there that’s mine, that I can manipulate and control and focus on when everything else seems super crazy. Or at least feel like I can. Until I can’t actually control it any more…then it’s time for more help. (I believe the phrase that tipped my dietitian into You Might Need Treatment territory was “I’m not driving the car any more”…and then some smart-ass comment about Thelma and Louise because if I don’t maintain a two-to-one ratio of sincere transparency and deflecting jokes at all times, I will implode or something. I’m working on that.)

Which brings me to the subject of bravery. Through this entire process (getting help, slipping, relapsing, getting help again, and now getting a [*sigh*] Higher Level of Care), I’ve heard the word brave applied to my actions. I don’t consider myself particularly brave in light of all of this; I just know things can’t keep going the way they’re going and I only have two choices; one of those involves me being a terrible role model for my friends’ babies, abusing my body horribly, and…I don’t know, having a heart attack or collapsing from electrolyte imbalance or something equally as horrifying and not particularly fun. The other choice involves increasing the intensity of my recovery efforts.

If I were to see someone else struggle through this stuff, live a life truly eaten up (ha) with a debilitating and excruciating disorder, and then choose to get what will no doubt be very difficult help, I’d probably call them brave. They’re repeatedly shoving themselves into uncomfortable and (irrational as it may seem) frightening situations in hope that someday things will be a little better. When you think of someone working every day to fight against actual fear in order to do what’s best…that’s bravery, is it not?

But I don’t feel particularly brave; I just feel as if I’m doing what needs to be done. I’ve found myself thinking about this quote from The Village (which is underrated and you should go watch it immediately) a lot lately:

Ivy Walker: How is it that you are so brave while the rest of us shake in our boots?
Lucius Hunt: I don’t think of what might happen, only what must be done.

I started thinking about this more last night as I have a recovering friend who is considering her own (*siiiiiigh*) Higher Level of Care. She thinks I’m brave; I think she is; we both think pretty poorly of ourselves for “getting to the point of needing this”. And I’m now wondering if anyone ever actually feels brave.

Because, really, what is bravery in the first place? My favorite definition (courtesy of whatever source Google uses) is “ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage”. That doesn’t mean the pain or danger isn’t real or scary, just that brave ones are ready to face it. Bravery involves some sense of fear, some weight, some risk…and in the midst of all of that, it may just be doing what needs to be done despite the hurdles all around. It may not be making a giant show of confidence by breaking the neck of the scary thing and standing on it for all to see. It may just be pushing through and doing what’s uncomfortable and even painful because it’s the right thing to do.

I still don’t know that I’m particularly brave. And I don’t know how much that matters in light of the Lord’s plans. I do know that He’s gifted me with certain attributes and that He’s growing me through all of this. I don’t totally know how everything will turn out. It’s scary and stretching and exhausting…but, I think I know what needs to be done, and I think I’m finally doing that thing…and that’s something.


Why I don’t want to go on your diet

raspberries


This post will probably annoy/upset/offend some people. I should note that this is not directed at anyone in particular, but just at people as a collective whole. I’m shouting into the void, not directly in your face. Promise.

All right, sports fans, it’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week here in the States (or maybe everywhere; I don’t actually know) and I thought I’d post a little something. But instead of telling you a detailed and grueling story of weight loss and heartache or posting inspiring before and after photos or whatever, I’m just going to whine. Okay? Okay.

Full disclosure: I have slogged through the putrid swamp that is EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, technically now known as OSFED [Otherwise Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder] in the DMS V but no one, including dieticians and therapists, likes that title, so we’ll stick with EDNOS for now) since 2008 and have only actually begun to work all of my issues out in the past year. EDNOS can take a ton of different forms, but for me it meant that I underate and overexercised with the intent of losing an unrealistic and unhealthy amount of weight as a coping mechanism for dealing with some garbage that was going on in my life at the time, and since that period of time have experienced a lot of anxiety regarding my weight, shape, and food. I have never been underweight, so I have never qualified as anorexic, but EDNOS is just as serious as the token eating disorders (Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa), and involves just as many health risks and just as much emotional anguish.

Now that that’s out of the way…

I do not want to go on your diet. It does not matter what your diet is, if it masquerades as a lifestyle, if it allows you to eat chocolate every day, if it causes significant life changes, etc. Barring me finding out that I have a medical need to cut a certain food out (like, I know I can’t eat gluten, but that’s not a diet; it’s a survival tactic to keep me healthy, employable, and not nauseous/vomiting/other uncomfortable things 24/7), I do not want to go on your diet.

I am fully aware that you love your diet. I know that you have lost x number of pounds on your diet. You have reiterated time and again how much better you feel on your diet. I still do not want to go on your diet.

Why? Because I hate restricting food categories.

Actually, that’s not true. I love restricting food categories. Or, at least, the eating disorder that I’ve battled does. It makes me feel strong and in control and like I’m accomplishing something. So, when I start to restrict any category of food, I just want to do it more and more and more.

If I cut out simple carbs, why not all carbs? If I can’t eat beef, let’s add chicken and fish to that list. If I’m not supposed to eat butter, how about severely decreasing my fat intake? No milk? No problem! I’ll cut cheese and yogurt out, too.

I assume you can see the issue here.

I currently eat an immensely healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables and all three of the macronutrients necessary for life. I, generally speaking, don’t eat too much or too little. I have the energy I need to go for a run and go to the store and go about life. I’m not losing weight or combining my meals in a specific way or avoiding an entire macronutrient group. And, shockingly, I somehow manage to live a pretty good life without doing any of those things.

I want to eat foods I enjoy (bell peppers, apples, cupcakes, tofu, broccoli, vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries, grilled cheese sandwiches, clementines, and so many others). I want to avoid foods I hate (stevia-sweetened anything, mushrooms, stevia, red velvet cake, stevia, calamari, stevia, rice pudding, stevia, cauliflower pizza crusts, and did I mention stevia?). I want to be able to eat soup and sandwiches and waffles and bananas without feeling guilt because I didn’t stick to some arbitrary rules set forth as the only way to maintain health. I want to eat dinner at a friend’s house without the heavy oppression of a set of instructions that must be followed or else.

Because the fact of the matter is that abandoning all of my food rules has resulted in me having energy and hair that grows at a normal rate and nails that don’t chip every time the wind blows. I’m not cold all of the time any more, I’m not growing increasingly weaker, and I no longer feel like I’m going to pass out on a near-daily basis. My dress size may not be what I want, but at least I’m a functioning human being.

So, no, I don’t want to go on your diet. I don’t want to go on anyone’s diet. I want to live my life for once without being worried about what food I eat or don’t eat. And, to quote one of the great philosophers of our time, “That’s all I have to say about that.”


FYI (if you’re a Christian human being): a response to the response to Mrs. Hall’s blog entry on modesty

So, there was this blog post I saw going around on Facebook.  And then I noticed that there was a large amount of backlash, frontlash, and sidelash surrounding it.  So, I thought I’d add to the noise.  This is sort of a response to the response to the blog entry with a few sidenotes based on my own observation of the way the Church at large handles the issue of modesty.

Christian ladies: You don’t dress modestly because that’s what Pastor Bob says, because it’s what your mother told you to do, because not doing so makes Aunt Marge cringe, because that’s what Good Girls do, or even to Respect Yourself.  You dress modestly out of love for your Christian brothers.  Just like you, most guys struggle with maintaining pure thoughts.  And just like you, they don’t want to have more issues in this area than already naturally occur.  You wouldn’t wave a mimosa in front of a recovering alcoholic at brunch and then tell them not to think about it, so don’t prance about in clothing that you know will give guys trouble and expect them to have an easy time of it.

Christian gentlemen: That being said, we ladies are not responsible for your sin.  We cannot know everything that causes issues for each individual guy.  I’ve had several married friends tell me things like, “I was always taught not to wear __________, but my husband says it’s not a big deal.” And I have other married friends who express the exact opposite.  Everyone is different and there is no possible way to cater to the triggering factors of others.

I am in the long process of recovering from disordered eating (this relates; I promise), an issue I’ve had off and on for at least five years.  Recovery from something like this is slow and arduous: first I look for good days, then good weeks, then good months.  Thankfully, I’m in the good months area of recovery at the moment.

There are a lot of things in the good days and good weeks stages that can trigger disordered eating thoughts for me.  Some of those things are easily avoidable; some are not.  One of the most ridiculous triggers for me (on a bad day) is someone I am close to just mentioning changing their own diet to lose weight.  If, upon hearing this information, my brain jumps to thoughts of starving myself or of how much weight I need to lose, it is not the other person’s problem.  Many times, this sort of conversation doesn’t phase me, but it occasionally does and is something I have to learn to deal with.  I can’t ask the entire world to stop talking about weight and food and exercise; I can take my thoughts captive, as the Bible commands, and ask God for help in this area.

My point is, we can’t know every issue you have.  Even my friends who are very familiar with the ups and downs of my eating problems can not possibly guess what may cause issues for me on any given day; sometimes, I don’t even know.  It is my responsibility to be prepared to shut down those thoughts as they come.  It’s the same for anyone dealing with any ubiquitous, unbiblical thoughts.

Christian parents: Okay, this is probably a tad presumptuous of me as I’m not a parent myself.  But there are kids in my life who I want to protect, and I do want to have kids and often think about how I will approach difficult issues with them.

First off, yes, it is your right and your duty to protect your kids.  Insulate them in whatever way you feel is necessary. But you also need to train them.  Train your daughters to dress modestly for the sake of the men in their lives.  Train your sons to treat women with respect and to consider them something other than sexual objects.  They need to be able to react to the world around them with biblical understanding.

Years ago, when I was knee-deep in disordered eating, I remember reading a blog post concerning eating disorders.  One thing to note for the uninitiated is that most ED support sites will have ***TRIGGER WARNING** plastered all over various posts in order to let those who are easily triggered know what they’re getting into.  However, the woman writing this post was somewhat against labeling everything with the warning — not because she didn’t care about how her writing affected others, but because she recognized the deeper want held by many recoverers of complete isolation from all triggers.  She essentially said, “I can put trigger warnings at the top of each post and you can avoid them and avoid the pro-ana sites and the fashion magazines.  But do know that there will come a day on which you are walking down the street and you will look up and there will be a giant billboard with a stick-thin model on it.  And you have to be able to deal with that.”

I can insulate my (hypothetical, future) children from every evil I have control over.  But there will come a day when my sons see a less-than-modest photo or even just have a friend who starts dressing less modestly.  And they need to have the tools and understanding to address any unbiblical thoughts that arise out of those issues.  They will only learn how to deal with such temptations if my (hypothetical, future) husband and I teach them to understand their human weaknesses and run to the Lord and take their thoughts captive.  They won’t learn that just from being isolated from instances of immodest, immoral, or unethical behavior.

Finally, (a slight deviation from the topic at hand) to every Christian out there: the issue of sexual purity isn’t just a man’s game.  I have run into far too many women recently who have told me something to the effect of, “Growing up, I didn’t think other women struggled with lust.  I thought I was the only one.”  Just as you men are responsible for your thoughts, we women are responsible for ours.  But don’t think that none of us understand the struggle you face and don’t think that we are beyond temptation in that area.  And please, please don’t neglect to teach your daughters how to handle that temptation.

Well, those are my thoughts.  I would love to hear the opinions of others on both the blog post I linked to and what I’ve expressed here.  Thanks for reading!