U.S. Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I want to say a few things to my non-gender specific siblings out there in eating disorder recovery:
- It’s okay to eat. You don’t have to do anything to justify your eating. It is okay to be a person amongst people, enjoying the food.
- It’s also okay to have limits. From pushy relatives who make comments about your body, to pushy friends who goad you to eat more pumpkin pie than your stomach has room for, you can draw a line. “Here is my boundary” you can say. You can stick to your boundary with love. Anyone you disappoint by having boundaries is likely not worth keeping around.
- You don’t have to let what other people are doing, eating, and saying touch you. Draw up an emotional shield if this is a triggering time for you. You are safe, you are protected, and I know what it’s like to be afraid on a day that is supposed to be about gratitude and I know what it’s like to overcome it. You’ve got this. I am here for you.
- Exercise shan’t be punishment for what you consume on this day, or any day. Think of your food as nourishment, and fuel and on this day, acknowledgement for this stolen land we are partying on. Don’t think of it in terms of burpees and deadlifts and sprints. Exercise is for the exaltation of release. It is for the celebration of being in your body and seeing what your body can do. Don’t make exercise something you do to be a dick to yourself. Long term, you will appreciate yourself from refraining from that mindset, I promise.
It is my sincere hope, that you are with friends and family that make you feel loved and excited to be alive. It is my wish that you can find the perfect amount of full, and that guilt and shame won’t be prominent emotions around your meals. As I’ve said a million times, recovery is about progress- not perfection. Pat yourself on the back for successes and take note of the hard moments and use them as information.
I believe in you.
This week has kind of kicked my ass, and there isn’t really an external rhyme or reason.
Basically, I am contending with that one week a month that many female bodied people have. I know my ladies know what I mean: it’s the one that just fucking sucks for energy. (for the record, this is the week before my period, and by the time my actual period arrives I feel much better.) For the past few days I’ve been lethargic, I’ve been hungry, I’ve had zero energy for exercise or super elaborate meals or even to have a whole lot of specificity around what I’m eating. I’ve been simplifying: meals are non-creative at this point (baked potato, broccoli, nutritional yeast, tempeh, ad infinitum) and I’ve skipped my fasted cardio all week in favor of more lifting sessions because fuck it, when the going gets sleepy, the sleepy lift weights. (that’s true for everyone, right? guys? anyone? Oh, just me? Hmmm.)
It has been good to go slower, eat chiller, and to rest more. here are a few articles I found while surfing the net as I relaxed!
I totally struggle with healthy doses of depression and anxiety from time to time, because I am a human being in a terribly bizarre and heartbreaking world. This guide was written with teenage girls in mind, but because I think I’ll always be a bit of a sullen teen at heart, it spoke to me perfectly.
You know what I fucking despise? Those weird pop-up internet ads (often on health and wellness blogs!) with a picture of a cartoon banana and the words “5 foods you should never eat!” emblazoned across it. WHAT IS UP WITH THE BANANA HATE, TURDZ OF THE NET? This list is a spoof on that whole thing, and actually includes some real talk about when it makes sense to avoid certain foods. Spoiler alert: no specific foods are mentioned and the whole thing has a spin of both food and body positivity. My kind of list!
This article was an insightful and beautiful rumination on the difficulty and importance of friendship as we age. I just turned thirty-one, and I have to say: the list of people I am close with has gotten smaller, and I have a tough time getting out there to build new relationships. This article totally spoke to that conundrum directly, and inspired me to keep trying.
Muscles by Brussels is my favorite podcast and real talk about eating disorders is possibly my favorite subject. This episode gets kinda gritty! It talks about the relatively unspoken dangers of dieting within a vegan athlete competition context- a subject I have been dying to hear more about.
This dream boat of a wrap needs to get in my hands- STAT. I’m totally willing to break out of my lazy food rut for a taste!
Happy weekend <3
Anorexia is not being able to look in the mirror. It’s cranking up the air conditioning in an already-cold gym and lifting tiny little weights again and again and again with your head looking to the side because the sight of the bones and veins protruding from your arms looks scary and wrong, and even you yourself don’t want to face it.
It is extreme panic paired with extreme banality, life as a choreography of musts that take all of your time and every ounce of your energy. It is day in and day out, wake, weigh yourself, measure your soymilk, drink your coffee, feel hungry, so incredibly hungry that there is no point in eating because you will never not feel hungry when it gets down this deep. It is eat your vegetables, remain hungry, eat your pear, remain hungry, drink your diet soda and remain hungry. It is closing your eyes to try to breathe through the hunger and wondering why you don’t just eat.
It is your mom calling you on the telephone and begging you to be well.
Anorexia is a fight, an extremely stupid fight, a selfish fight. You know this, but you’re brain chemistry is all fucked up and you’re scared of very very basic things.
Anorexia is embarrassing.
Anorexia is a severe fear of actually living a life. A life includes food, rest, running around, fucking hot people, focus, drive, friends. Life is showing up to birthday parties with gifts in your hands and celebrating other people. Eating the cake or not eating the cake and it not mattering either way. Life is quiet time, sinking into hot tubs and letting your mind go blank, enjoying the way it feels to be in your body. Life is waking up and knowing there is both purpose to your day and a chance of mystery.
Anorexia will have none of that.
There is no “enough” for anorexia. There aren’t enough sit-ups, or measurements, or regimens, or restrictions. There certainly isn’t thin enough, because eventually every moment is fraught with the reality that you will either gain some of the weight back or you will die.
Anorexia has you believe that both options are on an equal plane of terrible, and you will not know which one to choose.
I remember my entire recovery as making deals with myself.
I will get to 100 pounds, and then I will stop.
I will get to 110 pounds and then I will stop
I will get to 120 pounds, and then I will stop
When I see that eating makes my weight go up in a way that isn’t about the deals I make with myself, I will stop weighing myself.
It’s just too painful.
I will eat enough, but I will exercise manically.
I will take rest days from exercise, but then I won’t eat much.
I will sometimes eat a little too much, but then I will throw up.
I went like this, in my recovery, for years.
I couldn’t see that to truly recover, I would have to learn to like myself. I was so deeply ashamed of my actions that I couldn’t imagine a world where I had any sort of self-esteem at all. I felt guilty about my behavior, disgusted at myself in the face of my crying friends and family. I started trying to recover for them, to make them happy, to stop the tears.
One day I wrote down every negative though I had about myself or my body for an entire day. I filled six pages in my notebook and asked myself how I could recover while constantly telling myself I was a piece of shit.
One day I promised a close friend I would help her to set up her thesis exhibition. I hadn’t eaten enough in a couple of days and when the time came to show up I was so exhausted I couldn’t move from my bed.
I asked myself how I could recover when I was continually disappointing people that I loved.
I asked myself if the negative things I spent all of my time saying to myself were perhaps sparked by how disappointing it felt to let people I loved down.
Then, I asked myself a question, a question I consider the first real step of my recovery for me, the first question that spawned the recovery that stuck:
What is it that I need to do to like myself enough to be well?