Dealing with post anorexic binging

The MissFits

Bouts of binging is an extremely common problem for people coming out of recovery from anorexia- think about it, you’ve starved your body for years, and now that you’re finally comfortable eating all foods again, your body is going to want to eat everything! Mentally and physically you have deprived yourself for so long, it’s only natural that your body goes into survival mode and stocks up on calories now that you’re willing to eat them. And having not eaten chocolate for years, when that sugar hits your lips its a hundred times stronger it’s almost ecstatic.

I struggled on and off for over a year of binging post recovery- by recovery I mean reaching an NHS acceptably healthy weight- not necessarily fully mentally recovered. When it first started I was still ‘skinny’ so as much as I hated myself for over eating, I knew that physically I wouldn’t look…

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Resolutions and Realisations.

Ahh January, the month of abstinence. The month of self inflicted redemption for the enjoyment of the festive season. By the 20th however it seems the whole thing is finally dying down. For me and I’m sure anyone else in the midst of recovery the last few weeks have been increasingly tense. Having to sit out the January madness for those with an eating disorder is akin to telling those who don’t that the are no longer aloud to participate in Christmas feasting but must still embark in the fitness journey in the New Year.

You see I realised long ago that my love of putting my self in physical pain allowed me to enjoy exercise and in turn weight loss in a way that not many did.

Waking up with abs so sore you can’t sit up?

winning.

Legs so sore sitting on the loo is painful?

I loooooooovvvve it.

So this very long exercise break has been tough. And so against the advice of my loved ones I thought I was okay to start easing back in to a healthy eating and light exercise routine ( cause ya know bmi 22 and all that.). Reading back that sentence know I see just how ED driven it was. Fast forward a week I had started restricting my carbs to breakfast and my body image was shot. Then the binge monster returned with full force. Lol I’m probably heavier now than I was a week ago.

The truth is that because of my history with anorexia I will probably never be able to ‘diet’ again, and for someone who actually enjoyed dieting this has been hard. I loved embarking on new regimes, it gave me purpose and goals to achieve. But I have realised that even a slight calorie reduction for a few days alters my thinking and my food and body preoccupation goes through the roof. Yes at some point I can make heavy exercise a part of my life again but changing my body shape is, at the moment, not feesable.

The other realisation is very much based around choice. As outlined in her article outlining recovery, Ms Troscianko outlines the necessity sometimes having to overshoot with fat mass in order to restore lean muscle mass to pre starvation levels. I’m much larger than I have ever been, and as seen in the men in the Minnesota Starvation Study, I have over shot my pre ed weight and experienced extreme hunger all the way. The body seems to want to be at a higher weight for a while post starvation and I’m not a unicorn. My body has behaved just as Science said it would through each stage of the process. So I’m choosing to continue following my body and Science by not trying to restrict or knowingly engaging in behaviours to maintain at a weight because I am no longer comfortable. I choose for my body to do what it needs to repair and trust me again that it no longer needs to hold on to every calorie I provide it with. If that means I have to gain even more and then taper back down again? So be it I’ve just got to pull on my big girl pants and live.

So basically I’m doing January inside out this year. Heck I’m doing life inside out the last 6 months, but here’s to hoping it brings more self acceptence and happiness than mainstream ever did.

 

PS. Thank you Adele for possibly the most beautiful picture known to man.

Myths and why CBT Did not Work for Me

 

No I am not a unicorn. But just like some people are mathematically inclined and others great linguists, the way my brain in not going to be identical to every other sufferer of an eating disorder, and vice versa.

Cognative Behaviourable Therapy (CBT) is a fantastic method. It helped me overcome a period of my life where the social anxiety was crippling, I learnt so much about my self and the way I thought and really often how irrational these thoughts and fears were. So when I was finally medically stable enough to attend sessions as an In Patient I finally thought I was going to be able to locate my daemons and deal with this whole eating disorder thing as easily as I had delt with my social anxiety.

Fast forward a to three months later and I was even more despairing of my situation. Week in week out I was failing to do as many 5 part models as needed. Spending hours trying to find positives and negitive from my day. Trying to locate the need that my disorder was fulfilling in my life. And then trying to write it all down. All the while getting more and more anxious that I didn’t understand it. I felt I was making it all up. I felt I was failing at therapy.

I couldn’t understand, it had worked so well before my therapist was gorgeous, we really connected and gave me so much time. So why was I relapsing? I haven’t been back since the end of August and I hate my self for it but it has been such a relief. Purely for how pathetic I felt after every session.

I was discussing with S in my session on Monday how I felt that all this time I had been searching for the root cause of my eating disorder, what it was a coping mechanism for and what need it was fulfilling in my life when really there was a simple answer to it all. I, Katie had always wanted to be thin, and at a certain point I dieted to a point that I was malnourished and from there my poor starved brain and my genetic make up and personality type meant that I had developed an eating disorder. That’s it. No deep trauma, no other reason. Just as with most cases and as portrayed in The Minnesota Starvation Experiment I had simply fallen victim to my own body’s symptoms of starvation and now that I was weight restored the only thing I had left was that niggling want to be thinner.

S was able to shed some light on the reason it did not work for me. You see treating mental illness is treating those who are not (albeit sometimes temporarily) coming from a place of reality. The thoughts, behaviours and compulsions of the patient are not coming from their developed brain, their true self. For example my social anxiety was based on a fear of being judged. My therapist at the time asked me ” when your having a conversation with some one new, what is running through you head? ” my answer was ” I’m worrying about how I look, is my make up okay, dose my outfit make me look fat? ” by seeing that I was thinking about my self and really in all honesty most people are worrying the same things about them self rather than judging me. So every time I had the thought I could successfully challenge it and my anxiety was reduced.

In those suffering from an eating disorder ( and I would say a lot of mental health issues) these thoughts are not coming from a place of reality. Sometimes the thoughts are so removed from what the individual is actually feeling and sometimes it’s hard to differentiate. Call him Ed, the voice, Satans dialogue what ever you want to call these thoughts and constant inner monologue, they are not coming from the real you. So can strike at any time, there’s no rhyme or reason for them so identifying the thoughts and then challenging them and changing your behaviour may work to deal with some aspects of the disorder but for me it was a bit like a game of Wack-a-Mole.

Its well documented that the personality type susceptible to developing an eating disorder is high achieving, goal orientated people pleaser with perfectionistic type tendencies. And I guess that’s why  the therapy with S is working so well, it’s not punitive. She doesn’t make me feel I’m failing when I have a tough week, she rationalises it for me. She said to me this week ” you don’t need therapy Katie, you need clarity” and that’s exactly what she gives me. And more importantly hope. Hope that one day my body will not be the be all and the end all of my life. She  is walking proof that remission can be achieved.

Ive also become increasingly aware through my recovery that many therapists still work with many myths surrounding eating disorders and I may do a few posts on the ones I have found most derailing.

 

 

Pregnant? No, just recovering…

Constant hunger.

Extreme Cravings.

Water retention.

Cankles.

Weird cravings. ( yes I just had a bowl of baked beans, tuna and beet root)

Sudden attachment to my bottle of gaviscon.

Getting hot and flustered while shopping.

Inability to see my toes periodically.

I’ve seen my mom go through 3 pregnancies. I’m literally her. She actually comforted me with “”I know how you feel” and I knew she did. Lol. Now where are the pickles…..

I’m not a human I’m a swimming pool.

imageimageBecause this water retention sucks my recently restored ass.

to quote my mother this evening “I would love to see how you’d look if we gave you a diuretic……”.sexy.

This. Just this.

 

Not Feeling like Beyoncé

They say  those with the prepencity to develop eating disorders tend to have very black or white thinking, all or nothing and perfectionistic tendencies. When it comes to matters of the heart I completely fit the mould. I was single till I was 20, I really never had found anyone who could change my thinking that relationships were frankly a bit of a waste of time unless they were for life. And for 20 years no one tried to get in enough that I gave it a go.

Then I met O and he made me feel special from the word go. He was so charming, sweet, attentive and we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. I presumed that when I returned to Ireland less than 2 weeks later that, like with most guys he would just slowly cool off me and again I would eventually find someone else who was in the same country as him. It would be a summer fling. I’d never felt this way in my life but my self preservation was still keeping me thinking it would never be more than that. I was wrong he flew over to see me and fast forward to the New Year and we were living together.

For the first time ever I let my self get lost in being with some one we had 2 years where it was about us. I was the reason for all our downs ( first ill health and then my eating disorder) but truly I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. And he validated this constantly with both words of affirmation, attentiveness and displays of affection. My subconscious was still muttering away that I was “just another girlfriend” but that was quietened everyday. Because for me it was all or nothing. And the problem is it still is.

I know now that my eating disorder changed everything and that really It would no longer work. But an email I had to forward to him this week set me off on a roller caster few days. Pair that with my now returned cognitive and emotional thought processes I’m hurting for the first time and wooooahh allowing my self to be pissed off and angry. The problem is it’s me that I’m feeling all these emotions towards.you see when my parents kept me home at Christmas I was still in the state of mind that I had caused all this unhappiness. And yes I had chosen my eating disorder over everything and everyone else. But at a BMI below 14 was I really the one in the driver seat?

The truth being that relationships never had a place in my life but from the word go my relationship with O was all consuming and even though the girls are just saying it is because I am not out there I am feeling this way again but really I know that deep down I cannot fathom being close to anyone in the same way. The flirtations I am having just feel like going through the motions. Yes these boys are itelligent/tall/cute/well educated but it all feels a little like here we go again. Then to see your SO move on so quickly and your friends and family remark that it’s like you’ve just been replaced hurts. It again solidifies my thought that really relationships are pointless. We do the same thing over and over again just with different people. Beyoncé is right, we are all replaceable, and the second we forget that is the second shit hits the fan. I still feel I found my soulmate, my best friend, but seeing how quickly I was replaced I now know that it would never work again. I am so happy that the unhappiness I caused him has not dampens his ability to love another as I have not been so resilient and still feel humongous guilt for the pain I caused. I am in fact eternally greatful to this new woman for making him happy again. I will never forget my mothers warning 3 months into our relationship that I would lose him if I did not sort out my eating. My anorexia was arrogant enough to think I could have it all.

 

It’s a Marathon not a Sprint

As of the last post I started thinking about how I am so bogged down in how much more hill there is in front of me  and that there must be some clear reason for this, I haven’t  looked back to see how far I’ve come and what I have learnt along the way (I mean it’s been 10 months, there has to be something right?). And now I’m weight restored and can actually hold a train of thought for more than approximately five minutes ( yay nutrition), I can see that actually