Since January, I have tried to eliminate binging and overeating from my life. I recognize that completely stopping is not realistic. Relapsing from an eating disorder isn’t like relapsing from alcohol. If I have one drink, that is considered a relapse. One binging episode isn’t a relapse as long as I get back to a pattern or regular planned eating pretty quickly. With the elimination of alcohol over a year ago and now this “no relief from food” thing….these past couple of months have been crazy.
My hormones and emotions have been WILD. (Just ask the others who live in my house). My eating disorder is alive and active. It has morphed itself into this inner voice that whispers things like, “Just have one more cookie, it won’t kill you”, “You’ve been doing so well you DESERVE a treat.”, “No matter how hard you work at this you will fail, you always do.”, and finally my disorder tries to lure me into complete restriction or purging if I’ve gone “off plan”. In that moment, it doesn’t matter that people die from purging and restriction. My mind can trick me into thinking that being thin and dead is better than being fat and alive. In my conscious mind, I do not believe any aspect of that statement. But if I let the disordered voice get loud enough, it can drown out the words of reason.
Separately but not completely different are my emotional responses seeing how happy and successful you are. I want to be happy for you when I hear you’ve joined a new gym and have been there 10 times in a week, but instead I am engaging my inner brain calculator to see how my fitness activities compare to yours. When you post that you bought a new fit bit/applewatch/caloriecounting/miletracker, I can go from having no interest in owning one to ordering it next day delivery and reading the entire owner’s manual online before it arrives. It doesn’t matter that I know tracking and counting eventually shatter me. It doesn’t matter that I know and understand the dangers of dieting and counting steps to my disordered behaviors. For some reason, no matter how much I love you, no matter how much I want you to succeed, I will try to figure out how we measure up, side-by-side. I will hope that I am “better” than you. I will compare myself to you and that is deadly.
This shit is hard, I have to admit that and surrender to it every day. I refuse to pretend that eating on plan, exercising without tracking, eating without guilt or shame and calming my ever spinning brain are easy. Being honest with you and connecting on this uncomfortable level is hard. In order to live, I have to connect with you and people who understand my diseases. I have to connect to the person who has the spinning brain of an alcoholic. I also have to connect to someone who undereats, overeats, purges, binges, over workouts, or populates spreadsheets with calories and workout data. Each of these types of people are my partners in disordered thinking. There are days I am blowing up people’s phones because of my struggles.
In the midst of the struggle…I breathe. I also laugh…cause if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry.
My final thought is this: my mental health does not depend on a lower BMI. I have to accept who I am, addictions and all. I can be fucking crazy thin, fat, lazy or active. What I can’t do is relapse. Thank you for helping me not relapse today. 💙 Jen
I won’t take it personally if you ignore the post that I plan to write about my own recent health victory. 🙂 Hang in there, Jen. So proud that you are confronting these demons and owning your struggles. Sharing helps people understand what you are going through–as well as being a really valuable coping skill for you.
Make sure you share it. I really want to read it. Love the boat stories.
This is awesome, Jen. I am so proud of you for staring your fears in the face. That is everything.
You rock lady.
Hey Jen – I wanted to let you know that what you’ve written has really resonated with me. Everyone struggles with things and I can’t pretend that my struggles are in any way comparable to yours – no comparisons as you’ve so eloquently written – but I wanted to let you know that I’m in awe of your honesty and bravery in being able to put your thoughts into words and sharing it with us. Stay strong!
Ho Yan – thank you for this. I can’t tell if I replied already but I so appreciate you reaching out.