pre-christmas + ‘overcoming overeating’.

Better admit it: I’m scared about Christmas.

From an ED perspective, this is fair enough. Pretty much everyone with an eating disorder is scared about Christmas. There is pressure, and temptation, and a loss of control, and binging, and self-loathing, and weight gain – and all of the above, in various combinations. Mostly what I’ve got for Christmas the last few years has been anxiety.

But this year things are different, and in a way, I’m even more scared. Because last year I handled Christmas Day by simply not eating for 48 hours afterwards: sorted – whereas this year I have to get up on Boxing Day morning and go downstairs for breakfast, and it terrifies me. I’m scared I’ll overeat, I’m scared I’ll binge for the first time in over four months; I’m scared I’ll hate myself afterwards and undo all the progress I’ve made; I’m scared I’ll let myself down.

And I can feel the effects of the season too. Although my numbers have been roughly the same this last week – around 1,000-1,100 – I know my nutrition has taken a dive: yesterday I was craving baking, so I made (non-vegan) chocolate chip cookies and ate one then and one later. So to make up I just ate a bowl of steamed vegetables for dinner, which – I mean, technically it works out roughly the same as a meal, but it feels more “disordered” to me. I can’t work out if this is right or wrong – surely it’s psychologically healthy to eat what I’m craving, and to feel like I can have a cookie if I want? But I felt like I was subconsciously semi-restricting afterwards (with the steamed veg) to make up for that, which isn’t a road I want to go back down. And a balanced diet is tricky this weekend, as I go home tomorrow for the holidays, so I have next to nothing in the house here.

This post is so disjointed, haha. I know I’m not making much sense right now.

What I am doing is turning back to my saviour: Overcoming Overeating‘ by Jane Hirschmann and Carol Munter. This book is what helped me commit to recovery in the first place, when I was on the brink, and I can’t even – I don’t have words for how it’s helped me change my life. I’m NOT a self-help-book-y kind of person (and even with this book, I tend to roll my eyes a few times), but this has pretty much saved me, and I don’t think that’s an overstatement. Although it is aimed primarily at compulsive overeaters/dieters, it’s completely applicable to someone with an ED (that is: it doesn’t tackle the purging aspect of bulimia (as the book isn’t explicitly about eating disorders), and it’s probably less relevant to an anorexic. But for anyone with a binge-eating disorder, self-loathing, or EDNOS, I think it’s fantastic). I consider myself EDNOS, binge/restricting type, and I haven’t binged in four months since I read this.

Also, I swear they’re not paying me.

Think of it this way. Each time you feed yourself exactly what you want and as much as you need when you are hungry, you are making a deposit in a savings account labeled GOOD CARETAKING. These deposits will remain in the bank forever, and you will feel more secure as their sum grows. They are a foundation that no one and nothing can take away. When you eat from mouth hunger, your savings account is not depleted:  you haven’t “blown” anything. Eating from mouth hunger is simply analogous to not making a deposit. You’ll get back to your deposits in due time, but even when you neglect them, your foundation remains. Patience and kindness will do the trick.

(emphasis my own)

I have three and a half months experience of feeding myself properly now, and all I can do is hope that this is enough ‘good caretaking’ for me to be able to trust myself over Christmas. But if it isn’t? Then, I just have to tell myself that I haven’t blown it. Over the past few months, I have achieved so much – and whatever happens, even if I slip up, even if I feel totally down over it all – these last few months can’t be undone. I just need to hold onto them.

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I feel like my last couple of posts have been a little heavy, so this is just a quick post as a sort of memo to myself – I went Christmas shopping yesterday and treated myself a bit, and as I’m getting more and more interested in veganism, I found myself increasingly noticing vegan products.

So this is something I treated myself to! I love Lush products, but it’s only since I read their Christmas catalogue that I realised so many of their products are vegan – this maple taffy lipbalm was £2.50, smells delicious, and its two main ingredients are coconut oil and maple syrup – uh, so it’s basically frosting?

I also picked up some Lush perfume – I didn’t realise they even made perfumes til I read the catalogue, but they do two sizes of spray and these solid perfume sticks, so I got a stick of ‘vanillary’ scent for £6. I try not to love vanilla scent so much, because it’s so typical, you know – but I really do. I think perhaps it’s with being a baker – I just associate it with sweetness and happiness. And their perfume sticks are vegan too!

I know veganism is about a whole lifestyle, not just diet, but this is an aspect that I haven’t thought much about yet – I’m not even a ‘true’ vegan, honestly; although I never buy regular milk/yoghurt/cheese any more, I will happily eat non-vegan food socially (or when I get a craving), and sometimes buy/eat products with whey in, for example. But it’s good to know that if I ever did decide to truly go for it, there are gorgeous products like these just on the High Street, and it’s becoming easier and easier to identify vegan products without having to scour the back of the packaging of, you know, everything. Vegan food for thought!

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you are not alone.

If this is my story, then it’s just the barest bones of it so far. The skeleton of it, except obviously not literally any more. Three and a half months since I committed to recovery for good, and it was a terrifying decision to make – to be well, forever. Three meals a day for the rest of my life; never be that thin again. It was time, and I was ready for it – it was long overdue, honestly. But it was still a terrifying decision and, because secrecy is such an integral part of eating disorders, I found myself completely on my own with it.

Three or four weeks ago, I was alone in the house and I couldn’t sleep, and perhaps it was the middle of the night talking, but I just didn’t think I could do it anymore. I was eating like a fucking nutritionist but nothing was changing, and the initial pride and success was wearing off, and I was still just scared, and fat, and – I was lying there crying myself half to death, and then I went upstairs and sat on the bathroom floor – you know, the way I used to sit in the days I’d choke my guts up into the toilet bowl – and just sobbed, and I wanted to pray, or something, but I had nothing to pray to. I needed someone to look me in the eyes and tell me I wasn’t alone, and that things would be okay.

And I saw this:

I know this is about LGBT bullying, but I think it’s something that applies to everyone who’s struggling with something that no one understands and that they feel completely on their own with. It was what I needed anyway – I must have watched that video twenty times, until I knew it off by heart and could say the words along with Chris. And I knew I would get up in the morning and have breakfast, and I knew I would keep fighting.

So, one way or another, Chris Colfer has somehow become my poster boy for recovery. Honestly, he gives me courage – and I haven’t chosen that word at random. In his current Glee storyline, courage is the word Blaine texts Kurt in the face of LGBT bullying: courage is the word you hold in your heart to keep you going, however overwhelming the world becomes. And as I’ve learned more about Chris – he’s kind of a geek, and he has a severely epileptic sister (I have an epileptic brother and sister, although not as severe as his), and he was bullied a lot at school – I’ve been able to relate to him more and more, and he gives me the hope I need. That it will get better.

Know that you have friends, you are loved, and that you are not alone. And know that despite such a current challenging time, there is so much to look forward to. I promise, it gets so much better.

Chris Colfer.

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getting better.

Having done Saturday’s photo blog, finally, I realise I haven’t even talked about yesterday, which was a day with its own triumphs.

Basically, the church by uni was holding a Christmas carol service in the evening, & I’d arranged to go with the aforementioned new friend from my course – this was the first time we’d hung out outside of class hours, so that felt like a big deal for me in itself, heh. I was going to go with my housemates too, but in the face of the X-Factor final they turned out to be too lazy – so then it was JUST me and my new friend, and I looked like I was just pretending I had other friends as well, haha. But anyway. I wrote on LJ:

I’m kind of weirdly nervous because… I don’t make friends. And it feels like when you just start dating someone (this is very hypothetical because… I don’t date, either, lmfao) but I don’t know what’s normal, you know?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME, AGAIN.

But actually once we met up it was fine, and we had a laugh, and I think it went really well!

Why am I including this on a Recovery blog? Because not so long ago, I didn’t talk to anyone. I couldn’t put myself out there, because I hated myself without reservation, and I didn’t have the strength to face potential rejection or make myself vulnerable. This example may be a friend-date, rather than a date-date – but it stands for the same thing. I’m finally facing the world, and learning that people can like me, and do like me, even if I am the socially awkward penguin incarnate.

Also, because there were free mince pies & mulled wine afterwards, and (admittedly I’d only had toast for dinner, because as I mentioned earlier, I just wasn’t feeling food yesterday evening) I had both without a moments hesitation – I knew I could, I knew it was okay, and I genuinely wanted to. (Yep, wanted to! – Miss ‘I Hate Drinking Alcohol Calories and Don’t Really Like Mulled Wine Anyway’). My friend ate three, wouldn’t you know it (she’s about the size of my leg) – but even then, it didn’t even occur to me to get all bingey and start overeating: I knew it was an option, but I’d had enough (and usually, socially, if other people are eating a lot I’d find that very triggering).

The fact that I’m even writing these things down as ‘triumphs’ makes me feel a little like the geekiest, most pathetic person ever (‘I talked to humans! I ate a small tart in a public place!’), but I think they really do matter. And I think they just prove, you know. That I’m getting better.

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daily log (with photos)

I’ve been meaning to do a photo food log for a while – I meant to do one on Friday, but then I kind of failed at eating – so on Saturday I finally went ahead and did it. The problem I’ve had, typically (I mean that it’s typical I’ve had a problem; the problem itself is atypical), is that both Saturday and yesterday were also very low intake days – what is the matter with me? For three days in a row I just haven’t got hungry – Saturday I had all the right meals in all the right places and still hit about 750 (AND NO EXERCISE, AGAIN), and yesterday I glanced at the clock at 8pm and was like, ‘shit, eating; I should do that’, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

Considering I’ve been constantly ravenous for the last three and a half months while my body was all, ‘WAIT, YOU’RE EATING NOW? I’M HUNGRY. I’M HUNGRY AGAIN. OH MY GOD THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER. I’M HUNGRY AGAIN. YAAAAY!’ (yes, my body talks in all-caps, shut up), this is new.

So, Saturday:

  • 2 slices spelt/rye toast w. peanut butter & jam

This is the spelt & rye bread that I’ve been eating for what feels like every meal since Thursday, haha. This in itself is kind of a triumph – I used to buy 52 cal/slice bread; each piece was about the size of my thumbnail. I’ve since graduated to 65 cal/slice bread, which is still about a third of the thickness of regular, but the pieces are at least visible in my hand. Because I have this need to know numbers, slicing off an unregulated loaf is a weirdly big deal for me (though I’m not gonna pretend I didn’t weigh how much I ate). Another big deal? Peanut butter. My old binge food. To have, say, a tsp of pb on toast in the morning and then be done with it is something I hardly thought possible. I thought recovery would always involve the ‘I CAN NEVER BUY PEANUT BUTTER AGAIN’ type approach. But no!

I didn’t actually eat these, but I did make a fresh batch on Saturday morning – they’re ‘frosty no bake glo cakes‘ from Oh She Glows, but I’m not gonna link to the recipe cause I don’t exactly want any visibility for this (very personal) blog. They’re like frozen cookies, almost, but way healthier – made with oats, banana, all bran, 1 tsp of cocoa powder, peanut butter and a tiny bit golden syrup. 100 cals per mini cake, a decent fibre hit, and I love them. So – I did sneak another tsp of pb as I made these, but nothing I wasn’t cool with.

  • Lunch: half a can of Suma vegan pea soup (it’s quite a thick soup & quite a small serving, so I made it go further by adding some water) & two slices of spelt/rye bread with Pure soya spread. Wait, you thought I was exaggerating when I said I had to eat this bread for every meal?

  • Dinner: my favourite salad. Spinach, 1 tomato, roasted carrot (w. 1-cal oil spray), roasted sweet potato, a squirt of lemon juice, a swirl of ketchup, & a 25g spoonful of houmous. LUSH.

I’m basically living off these salads right now – they’re so easy, and they pack such a lot of vegetables in, and I adore them (it’s the houmous: best thing ever). I suspect they’re the reason my intake isn’t getting high enough, but at the same time I feel very comfortable with them – they’re super satisfying for not too many scary cals.

So that looks like a pretty healthy day, to me, and I’m trying to fix my issues with quantity (two pieces of bread instead of one is a relatively new development). But I’m still frustrated over my intake – I don’t want to force myself to eat, but I’m conscious that my metabolism isn’t gonna fix itself this way. Let’s just see how today goes.

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daily log

Have not eaten enough today =[. And I’ve done sweet f’ all exercise either- basically sat on my arse all day, though I’ve done some art I’m proud of. How am I going to fix my metabolism this way? Ugh.

  • breakfast, 10am: 2 small slices of spelt/rye toast w. pb & raspberry jam
  • then nothing til 5pm: salad of spinach, tomato, sweet potato, a little leftover bean salad & a tsp of reduced fat houmous
  • 9pm: bowl of all-bran w. raisins &  light soya milk

I’ve got my five-a-day in, and a surprisingly not-terrible protein count (thank you, all-bran), but I’m way under for calories (under 700 at the moment). I don’t want to pressure myself to eat more though, cause I’ve just sated my hunger with the cereal – and the only reason I didn’t eat lunch was because I didn’t feel hungry, and then I got all involved in this picture I was drawing and sort of couldn’t be bothered.

But I don’t want to let myself get tempted by doing that again. I don’t want to welcome that emptiness.

And now I’m thinking about having some chocolate or something, but again, I feel like I’d be doing it for the sake of it, and I’m not in a mentally strong enough place tonight to get away with that. Ughhhh, I don’t know. I feel like if I had chocolate now, I’d eat a ridiculous amount, like I feel I need to compensate – and I don’t. But. I feel like I can’t tell if I’m hungry or not, tonight.

A cup of tea, I need, I think.

ETA: had a 99cal ‘funsize’ pack of maltesers before bed as a compromise; so I don’t feel a complete failure, but I’ve had a bit of a treat. In terms of nutrition, it’s empty calories, but… whatever,to be honest. Brings my day to just under 800 cals, and I know I said I wasn’t going to calorie-count here, but… it’s relevant, today? Ehhh, don’t judge me.

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daily log + melancholy

Feeling down tonight, all of a sudden – watched the Britney episode of Glee, and all those tiny dancer bodies made me feel thoroughly triggered and very depressed. I don’t usually have too much of a problem with it, but it’s touched a nerve tonight. I just feel like – what is ’45 minutes dancing every other day’ in the face of that? It’s nothing. Why am I trying.

Okay, we’ll do a daily log to take my mind off it:

  • breakfast: porridge w. soya yoghurt & plum compote
  • pecan pie nakd bar + tea (w. non-vegan milk)
  • lunch: black bean & avocado salad in a wholemeal pitta
  • dinner: pea soup w. spelt & rye bread and soya spread
  • half a non-vegan butterscotch cookie & 3 x tea w. soya milk
  • 1 slice spelt & rye toast w. almond butter & peach jam + tea w. soya milk

God that looks like a horrible amount of food. It’s only about 1,200 cals. And a 45 minute walk.

I’d planned to have something completely different for dinner, but there was an unexpected food/Christmas fair in the student’s union when I was walking home at the end of the day, so I had a look round with a friend from my course (! this is a big achievement, because people on my course are pretty damn unfriendly, haha) and the guy on the bread stall looked so enthusiastic I decided just to go for it. Plus, he wrapped it in red-and-white paper, and I felt very wholesome walking home with it held to my chest. Damned if I know if I’m going to eat a whole loaf by myself before it goes stale, but.

The pecan pie nakd bar is another of my new flavours – I love them all by default, basically, but it didn’t super blow me away, the same way the cocoa orange did. It’s a little higher in calories, but also has an extra gram of protein.

Watching comedy on BBC1 now & trying to cheer up; I think a lot of the reason for feeling so down is just time-of-the-month to be honest, although I tend to find that PMS doesn’t make me feel sad in itself – it just helps me to figure out what I’m feeling sad about the rest of the month. And if I’m struggling with body image, of course that’s gonna manifest. So I suppose… just gotta wait it out.

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