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Unfiltered Eating Disorder Recovery Frustrations

This post is unedited and unfiltered. The structure is as my mind went. Trigger warning.

I’m sick and tired of gaining weight. I’m sick of facing myself in the mirror, or looking down at my body, and not recognizing what is starring back at me. I’m sick and tired of gaining weight for everyone but me.

I know I wanted recovery, and I didn’t want my eating disorder anymore, but the program I’m in focuses on food and not my body image. I’m at a point where if we don’t do something about the way I feel soon, I’m going to turn back.

I’m eating regularly, every single day, and it kills me. It takes up all of my time, and I’m constantly thinking about what I’m going to eat next, if it’s too much or not enough, and thinking of ways to balance out eating starch, “meat” and vegetables. I feel like I’m doing it for everyone but me.

I’m on my own. I’ve been told through this process that eating disorder recovery is impossible on your own. Well, welcome to my world. I’ve got no supports in my inner circles. No family presence, no friends. The closest thing I have to a friend is my boyfriend, and though I’m grateful to have him, it’s not enough and we don’t live together. Whenever I try to add someone to the group by opening up and being up front about the weight gain, I get a sarcastic response or a simple “proud of you”. It’s not enough!

I need someone to sit with me, cook with me and eat with me. Someone who is genuinely proud of me and who understands that every pound that appears on my body is a fucking curse. I’m facing my biggest fear and no one seems to care. None of my clothes fit anymore, and I can’t identify myself in the mirror anyone. How is it that no one seems to give a fuck?

I hate pretending like this recovery is simple. It’s not. I can’t eat by itself; I need to do something so I don’t think. If I think, I won’t be able to get through the meals. I can only imagine what eating on its own is going to be like… When I have to eat with my boyfriend, it can be detrimental if we aren’t talking. He has had to sit with me while I just stared at the plate, playing with food, so maybe I wouldn’t have to eat it.

I recently started pole dancing, and I love it. But it was the first time I got a good look at myself and my size in the mirror, and it had to be in comparison to other women, including a fit teacher. I tried not to stare, but I couldn’t look away. I almost cried during that class, but managed to keep it together. When I was trying to perform a move, I had to hold the pole with my arms in front of me and could barely do that with my breasts and stomach in the way. It was defeating.

After class, the adrenaline kicked in. And the memories of me overexercising and exerting myself came along for the ride. I found myself wanting to restrict, overexercise and use laxatives all at the same time. It was excruciating.

I’m getting fed up with my program therapist hiding my weight. I want to know the number so bad, but the last time I even got to see a graph without numbers, which only documented my first 4-5 weeks, my therapist almost had me checked into the ward. I was distraught, and overwhelmed. I couldn’t bear the fact that I was gaining weight, and I still can’t.

It’s been at least 15 weeks since I started this program, and a good 3-4 weeks since I have been able to eat 3 meals and 2-3 snacks nearly everyday, and my weight still hasn’t stabilized. My workers tell me it’ll even out in the healthy BMI range, but it hasn’t stopped climbing. Every week, when they tell me “your weight is up a bit this week”, I want to lose it; scream and smash the walls. I’m sick of hearing that. I want to hear that number has gone down or that it’s stabilized. MAKE IT STOP!

They promise I won’t get overweight, and then say that “if you do, we’ll look at your food diaries, and talk about what we can change.”

I was triggered by my dietitian and therapist last week, who both dropped a contradictory bomb onto me. My therapist starts with telling me that I need to start exercising 3 times a week. Going from 0 (or casual exercise) to 3 times a week, out of the blue. And it frustrated me. It made me feel like she was worried my weight was getting too high. What made it okay to not work me up to 3 times? Why can’t I know my weight, that that’s a gradual process, but this isn’t?

Getting to my dietitian… I was told that I shouldn’t restrict anymore. That it’s not an option. My dietitian and I talked about a challenge food, and decided to tackle chocolate chip cookies that week. She then tells me I should only be having 2 cookies a day (depending on size). It blew me away! And, as I was eating my cookies, I felt like I had to restrict them.

Through this process, my appointments revolve around my food diaries. I need to talk about body image, but I just get redirected to being weighed or talking about last night’s spaghetti. It’s clear that I am associating her redirection with me not being allowed to talk about what is really bothering me. I have silenced myself and my emotions, and I am imploding.

I am all over the place. I am broken. I am frustrated. I want this recovery to be over, but it never will be. I will struggle with this for the rest of my life.

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Dear Ana

dear ana, anorexia, eating disorder, ed, ednos, osfed, recovery, sloth speed recovery, www.slothspeedrecovery.wordpress.com

My dearest Ana,

What are you doing to me? You are driving me insane. Every waking moment is torment. I miss you more than I’ve ever missed anyone. You’re fading from my life and I am terrified.

I have somehow reclaimed my body back, restored my weight, my happiness and my life, but something is missing, and it’s you. Everyday, I’m full of food, but missing you, and I can see you fighting our distance. I can feel your desperation to stay in my life; your claws digging deeper as you’re being sucked away from me.

I want to lend my hand out, and pull you back in, but I’m being told you’re no good for me, and I believe it. Hell, I think so, too. How can I trust you? You’ve stolen my livelihood, my teenage years and ripped pieces of me I didn’t know could be removed. You had me withering away; bones and flesh, swimming in loose jeans.

You didn’t just steal my shape from me, you stole my ability to eat and to function. No more could I sit and enjoy a meal; every meal was a challenge. Counting, measuring, feeling, chewing. And you convinced me it was normal. As long as I ate, I was okay. But, I wasn’t, and you made me believe my body was the problem, when really, the problem was your existence.

We met when I was very young; starring my body in the mirror as it stood in line with my fellow dancers. You criticized me at the mere age of 6. Every inch of my body was unacceptable in your eyes, and no one told me you were wrong. Everyone else followed the same philosophy; thin, thin, THIN. Why didn’t you let me grow up like other little girls got to? Why did you interrupt what was supposed to be the simplest, happiest moments of my life? Why did you make me doubt myself, and compare myself when there was nothing but happiness that should’ve been compared at that age?

You made me weigh my body before I could understand what a pound was. You told me being heavier than the girls around me was the worst thing I could be, and made me blurt my number out in groups, trying to see if I was the thinnest. And when I wasn’t, you made sure I knew. You made sure I doubted my body and my ability to exist, because suddenly, I wasn’t perfect, and it was apparent to myself and the ones around me. I needed to be thinner.

You were winning when my father and I were fighting at the mere age of 12, and he would throw me over his shoulder until my blood had turned my face red and purple. He would chase me around the house as we yelled at each other, make threats to call the police or throw me in a mental ward. He laid his hands on me and tried to throw me down the equivalent of 3 flights of cement stairs. He cornered me and tried to punch me with his large, powerful fists. He would lock me alone in a bedroom that wasn’t mine, to cry and moan for a better day, and refuse my dinner. That is when you won, and when we got well acquainted.

At 14, you became my best friend, and I listened to your words as if they were gospel. We stayed up late through the nights, starring at emaciated bodies that were begging for their revival as if it were pornography. Those girls aroused you as gas does to fire, as lighting does to an empty ocean, as catastrophe does to me. You sat with me, gun to skull, as I scrolled through images and rules and websites that should’ve been banned. You told me this is what I wanted; that this was the answer, and one day, you’d give it to me. You’d give me the goal, and I would get there; dead or alive.

You taught me my mom and dad would never love me, and maybe if I lost a few pounds, they’d notice or they would change their minds about pushing me aside. Maybe they would come to their senses and stop tossing me around like a useless pawn. I was a overly played game, used a billion times over.

“She needs our help.” My mother would cry.

“She’s fine.” My father would flatly respond.

I’m winning, you responded.

We danced the tango, my hand in yours, our limbs intertwining as we made sweet love under broken light bulbs, dancing to my screams. My wrists were handcuffed to you, and though I tried to spin and twirl away from your grasp, you were still able to pull me in and dip me. You’d plant a kiss on my lips; your lips so blue and cold, sucking the breath right out of my lungs.

A meal before us was place for our secret conversations.

“What can I eat?”

Nothing. If you eat, I’ll make sure you pay for it later, you fat pig.

“But, I’m hungry. I haven’t eaten in 36 hours. I have school work due. I need my energy…”

The only thing you need is to shut the fuck up, learn your fucking lesson and quit being a greedy whore.

We carefully decided on pieces that were edible, delicately carving out bite sized pieces that we could take in to convince the ones around me that I was, in fact, okay. Counting what could be counted, drank water to fill the void you created, and fought through every meal like food were grenades thrown at us by our arch nemeses. Scanning cubberts like professionals, labeling different foods under various labels. “Healthy, unhealthy, binge food, NEVER TOUCH AGAIN.” Sat in front of it like it were our God, praying for it to free me from its contents. And when I couldn’t fight the hunger, I binged, and was left devastated, weeping by a toilet or in front of a mirror.

You reminded me of my failure, and I promised I’d fight harder tomorrow.

We’d creep up the stairs in the early hours of the morning, relieve ourselves and step on the cold scale with my decaying body. I thought I was heavy, but truly, the heaviest burden in my life was you.

We would embrace my protruding bones, and they were the lullabies that put me at ease before I went to sleep; singing songs of empty promises for a better tomorrow. A tomorrow where I’d be thinner.

I thought pills and cuts would help and take away the pain you were causing, but it only created new doors for you to seep in.

I tried to fight you. Ana, I hated you. But, when things were too hard, you always came back and promised to give me another shot, I’d just have to try harder or you would leave.

You kept coming back, holding my hand as tight as possible. I trusted you. I loved you. And more than anything, I wanted to please you.

One of our notable successes was my 48 hour fast, but you weren’t proud of me. I thought it would please you, but the binge that followed disappointed you more than I could imagine.

That 2013 summer, age 15, we were like lovers. Everything I did was to honour your name, and I’m sure the amount of food I ate that summer was under a 1/4 of the minimum I needed. You exerted my already exhausted body as I traveled quickly on rollerblades, leaving me feint under the hot summer sun, starving for something more than food. We spent hours in the gym, trying to hide my hideous frame from eyes that did not deserve to see horror, as I focused in a corner on the treadmill, dreaming of the day I could be completely yours.

We remained together as you taught me new lessons only the most twisted creature could create, and we knew we’d never be apart.

I was 18, about to graduate high school, and you must’ve convinced me a diet could somehow save me. You coaxed me into thinking that this could work; that this could be the answer to our clashing dilemmas. I followed at the wave of your fingertip. You owned me.

We followed the rules, and pushed them to their limits. You noticed quick results, and you came for the kill. You took over my body. Food portions continued to shrink along with my size, and it was the first time you manifested yourself into me physically. Rapidly, I became a skeleton, and I had never been more miserable.

For years, I had dreamed of this. I thought I’d be my happiest, but I wasn’t.

We had to measure the things I ate, counting every calorie possible, trying to reduce it to nothing. I spent my waking hours working towards killing myself, and you were the facilitator. Looking at my frail and minuscule frame continued to remind me how in control you were, and how out of control I was.

My eyes were hollow from the torment you were forcing me through. The lack of nutrition left me weak and restless, unable to rest. My boyfriend desperately trying to make me see you for who you really are, and my defiance of his efforts. I insisted you were good, and that I loved you.

I remember this undying love for you and how treacherous that was for me. My love for you was going to rob me of my own body; of my own life. And there is nothing you could promise me for me to ever trust you again.

You were feeding on my life. You were so close to killing me. You almost won.

But, you didn’t. I found recovery. I found happiness, self-worth and stability. I am so close to beating you, to burying you, to kissing you goodbye with a great big punch to the face.

And, I can see you trying to come back, trying to dig your claws into me like you had once done, but I won’t turn back. I’m heading in a direction that doesn’t include you, and don’t think you will ever be invited.

I have never been happier, and I know it kills you to know that, Ana.

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Ontario’s New Calorie Count Law Is Dangerous

 

ontario's new calorie count law is dangerous, calories, eating disorders, government, sloth speed recovery, www.slothspeedrecovery,wordpress.com

“Nutritional information, including calories, is already available on the labels of many items we buy at the grocery store.” […] “As of January 1, 2017, all food-service chains with 20 or more locations in Ontario must post the number of calories in the food and drink items they sell.”

Calories on Menus in regards to the Healthy Menu Choices Act

The government of Ontario has decided that their citizens need to be more mindful of the calories entering their bodies, and has chosen to have all foods and drinks in restaurant chains with over 20 restaurants listed with their respective calories. Their goal is to ensure everyone is getting the right amount of energy needed for their bodies, but this listed number is doing more than that, and sadly, it’s not all good.

On one hand, those who want to lose weight healthily and have the means to do so have an advantage when they’re eating out, but a group has been forgotten in this whole equation.

In the US, 30 million people of all ages and genders struggle with an eating disorder, and eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any one mental illness. From anorexia nervosa, to binge eating disorder, to OSFED (Otherwise Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder), there seems to be no leg up through their struggles.

I, being a 19 year old woman in eating disorder recovery, diagnosed with OSFED (past atypical anorexia, and currently compensatory subtype) can no longer go out to eat without those numbers haunting me and triggering me. Those numbers call out to me and scream the horrors that I have worked so hard to hush. I am no longer safe when I am out of the house; my nightmares have followed me into my social life and make outdoor meals all that much harder. I could get by, reminding myself that not knowing the calories would be okay, but that safety blanket has been ripped away from me.

My mother offered me food from a Costco stand the other day, and there I was considering it, until that 3 to 4 digit number made my mind up for me.

I am now forced to not eat out, or keep my head down wile my partner/friend orders for me. I can no longer look up at the menu freely, deciding what I want to eat, without letting my disorder make my mind up for me.

This new law is not all good; and here’s why.


calories_on_menus

Favours one agenda over another. I am constantly reminded when I go out that my recovery and the struggles I have with my eating disorder are not as important as someone who is struggling with weight loss. There is a divide where one groups’ health is put above mine, and I have no control over it. No where do I see on the Ontario governmental page a worry regarding eating disorders or the benefits it could have on those struggling or recovering.

fried-chicken-fries

It isn’t only in fast food chains. I would be more understanding if these numbers affected the well-known unhealthy fast food chains such as McDonald’s, KFC and Wendy’s, because people go there and expect an unhealthy meal. They are aware that they’re not getting exactly what their bodies need. But this law seeps into Pita Pit, Burrito joints and so many other locations that are mainly vegetable dishes. These favoured places of mine have become less safe as the calories stare me in the face as I build a well balanced meal.

Being affected with an eating disorder, 600 calories can seem terrifying when at one time, I considered this more than my daily allowance of calories.

Vibrant Produce

Calories aren’t always the most influential part of a meal on ones body. This law puts emphasis on caloric contents instead of nutritional contents. They didn’t choose to label the vitamins and minerals, but chose calories. They also don’t state if these are healthy or unhealthy calories. Some people need to watch cholesterol whilst others need to watch sugars, but don’t worry, darling. In this diet culture, calories are all that matters. No need to care about your actual health. (Is you sarcasm meter on?)

part1

It encourages the notion that fewer calories defines a healthier meal. If I were to have a McDonald’s cheeseburger (290 calories) with a side of small fries (240 calories) and a Medium Strawberry Passion Awareness drink (240 calories), it would amount to 770 calories, which is rather low for a full McDonald’s meal. Compared to a large shrimp burrito from Burrito Boyz with all the toppings amounting to the same amount of calories, the McDonald’s meal will not have the same nutritional benefits or calories from vegetables that the burrito has, leaving this caloric number misleading in some respects to people whom don’t know better.

food-calories

The new law does encourage getting enough calories, but also achieves the opposite effect. Though this law states that they aim for people to eat enough calories, it does the opposite. We live in the age of diet culture, where magazines and ads constantly remind us we need to lose weight, no matter how much we weigh. Some diets encourage 1500 calories for adult women, which is less than needed, and encourages our bodies to enter starvation mode. The majority of people nowadays would prefer to consume less calories to lose a few pounds than to make sure they eat enough.

Little funny girl stand on scales

Children are exposed to calorie counts at a young age. I distinctly recall being a child, sitting at my table eating cereal, and reading the numbers from the nutritional value over and over. I didn’t understand what those numbers meant, but I think I knew even then that it was encouraged to have less of that first number; calories.

This new law may encourage parents to make diet decisions for their children that aren’t totally beneficial as they may fall in line with diet culture, or they may begin to starve their child unintentionally to help them lose weight.

Being easily influenced, these children whom grow into young adults are constantly surrounded with pictures of fit or emaciated models on social media and television, that they don’t understand what is truly attainable and healthy. Ads for weight loss drugs and workout foods or items run in front of the eyes of these children, and they understand the language. They watch social media stars and their family members struggle with weight, and they may do it, too.

Canada also presents the Canada Food Guide to young children, teaching them about calories and exercise. There is no doubt that this encouragement could easily spark an eating disorder in our youth, and an obsession with that pesky little number known as calories.

c8b079625e8d73bcd093e82ad1a5bc3c

The obsession with numbers can perpetuate eating disorders. A common trait in restrictive eating disorders is an obsession with numbers; whether that be calories, weight or measurements. It becomes this internal dialogue where the counting begins. As this obsession increases, that caloric intake may decrease to a starvation diet; anything to be seen as skinny.

We are taught since we are young to obsess over these numbers, and having them in our face isn’t doing us favours.

long-term-recovery-eating-disorder

Those in ED recovery have a harder time staying on track. How the HELL do you expect me or my fellow recovering peers to stay on track in our recovery; to put our health and our needs first, when that (sorry for my language) FUCKING number is flashing in our faces? How do you expect us to get ahead and be healthy when our triggers follow us everywhere? It would be unreasonable to tell us to just not look, because some of us can’t. We can no longer ignore the calories; we must now try even harder to not let them affect us, and some of us can’t fight that.


Calories follow us everywhere, along with images of the frailest, most photoshopped images we have available. With access to the internet and even more ways to perpetuate eating disorders, nearly nobody is safe from the possibility of it taking over their lives. Male or female; nobody is safe. 

The overall relationship society has with food will not let us get ahead as a society; the statistics for eating disorders will continue to rise unless we take into the account everyone and teach the public about true nutrition and healthy eating.

These calorie listings could cost someone a meal, periods of pain and their life.

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Eating Disorder Diaries – May 15th, 2017

For the first time yesterday in I don’t know how long, I ate until I was full. Not past full, not below full; but my body’s definition of full. I was satisfied with my meal, and had no desire for more.

It was a large success for me because, I have become completely desensitized as to what my body needs. I have starved and overfed it for years, and it’s struggling to find its place.

I never thought I would actually sit at the end of a meal, content with how I was feeling and satisfied with the meal I had prepared and eaten.

Recovery will shock you, eh?


Eating Disorder Diaries is a series documenting my recovery with my eating disorder. It won’t be easy to read and may have triggering content. Read at your own discretion.

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How I Overcame a Binge

how i overcame a binge, binging purging starvation laxative abuse, eating disorder, www.slothspeedrecover.wordpress.com, sloth speed recovery

Last night, with the combination of moving and Eating Disorder Outpatient Recovery stress, I found myself wanting to turn to something to feel better. All I’ve known in regards to coping for several years was food control and self-harm. It was a vigorous cycle that never ended with good results, and though I thought I was in control, I had never been more out of control in my life. I would either restrict enormous amounts of food, or turn to eating as a coping strategy.

I was sitting at my desk, talking to my boyfriend. I could feel myself being hungry, but I was crying hard. I was run-down from the go-go-go of my life, and how everything seems to crash down on me. On days like that, I would usually go buy an overpriced bag of chips, consume the whole bag and rid myself of it. But, I couldn’t let myself do that; not in recovery.

This recovery isn’t just about learning how to eat properly again, but to learn not to use food as a coping tool. Food is to nourish the body; not to punish.

For the first time in my life, I admitted to someone that I felt like binging. I used to be too humiliated to speak a word of it. I let my walls come down and confessed to the craving I was having. It was an important first step.

I was hungry, so I couldn’t just not eat, because that would be falling into my restrictive habits; I had to find what my balance was, and how I could avoid losing control.

How did I get through my urge to binge?


I told someone. I took the first step and admitted the urge I had to fall into that coping behaviour. I was up-front with my loved one and asked for their help.

I talked out my feelings and the cause. I told him why I was having those feelings; I felt my life was falling apart all around me. I’m in the process of moving, I have appointments nearly everyday next week, I’m in an outpatient eating disorder recovery program that’s opening up old wounds, etc. It’s important to assess the root cause of those emotions, and why they’re coming up. Write it down, talk it out; I did what I had to do to get through the rough patch.

Because I was hungry, I ate. During most of my urges to binge, I am not usually hungry, but this time I was. I was treading on thin ice; I didn’t want to slip up. I had to be fed, but couldn’t use it to control my emotions. I couldn’t retaliate a binge by starving myself; that wouldn’t be following my recovery plan.

I decided to eat, and assess during if I was still hungry, and I paced myself.

I was mindful when I ate. I kept checking in with myself to make sure I wasn’t doing it to cope. I checked if I was still hungry. And, in retaliation to wanting to starve myself, I finished the plate because I knew I needed it.

I didn’t punish myself. I usually use compensatory behaviour to punish myself for eating, and in recovery, that isn’t an option. I made sure to keep the food down and understand that I ate to nourish myself, not to punish myself.


spiritual

I am nowhere near perfect or fully recovered; but I wanted to share how I got through that specific urge to binge. I’m sure in 6 months, I’ll be much healthier and have a more skilled way of getting through it.

I do think it’s important we assess why we want to binge, and where the desire is coming from, and I want to continue assessing that, and becoming mindful of my urges.

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Eating Disorder Diaries – April 29th, 2017

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I have made a large amount of progress in relevance to my physical being. I gained the necessary weight to make me appear healthy, I make it through my meals every single day and have overcome my fears of oil and salt (relatively). But I am not healthy.

Last Wednesday, I had my first appointment for the eating disorder program and it tugged at too many heartstrings that I wasn’t prepared to have touched.

I thought all the work I had left was loving myself, but that’s far from the truth.

I constantly avoided any conversation about weight or food or exercise to protect myself; to not get triggered; to avoid falling into the eating disorder habits because I knew I was one strand from falling apart and returning to the behaviours I had gotten so accustomed to. I knew I was fragile.

I may have been eating, but it didn’t mean I could go grocery shopping without crying or freaking out. I could keep my meal down, but it didn’t mean I wasn’t taking handfuls of laxatives. I could drink juice again, but it didn’t stop me from climbing on and off the scale to make sure that number was correct. I could have oil again, but it didn’t dismiss my ability to swallow a bag of chips in a sitting as punishment for having emotions.

I hadn’t truly realized how fragile I had gotten.

Just talking about weighing myself makes me frantic.

I never had issues in therapy; I was always very open in conversation and was honest about myself, but I never had to face my eating disorder like this. I shrivel up, my lips locked tight, my throat swelling on itself, tears streaming down my face.

I didn’t think this would be the hardest thing I would ever have to do, but it is. It will be.

I am terrified. I just want recovery.


Eating Disorder Diaries will be a series documenting my recovery with my eating disorder. It won’t be easy to read and may have triggering content. Read at your own discretion.