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.