Shame in Recovery from a Restrictive Eating Disorder

Today’s thoughts

Those who are watching someone recover from an eating disorder (friends, family, partners) will be overjoyed that their loved one is on the journey towards health and happiness. They will see recovery as an entirely positive process, and objectively, they would be right. However, the fact that they are looking at it with such an objective view can also mean that it makes it more difficult for them to understand why the person in recovery does not always feel the same way. They may become confused as to why the person suffering it finding it so hard to make this journey to remission.

I have a confession to make: when I was suffering with an eating disorder, I felt ashamed when I put on weight because it made me feel like a failure. It made me feel ugly. It also made me feel like people were judging me. I’m not sure why that was…

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For a Reason, A Season or a Lifetime

Going to an all girls catholic school till I was 16 ment I attended yearly religious based retreats and workshops. At the time really I was just chuffed as it ment a day off lessons and homework. Oo ooh and you got to wear your school track suit all day. Delighted.

As with a lot of my religious education and exposure, I absorbed a lot/most of it on a subconcious level ( I can see the argument that it was infact, indoctrination, but really I tend to look on it more fondly…). For instance I saw a new councillor last week and something she explained brought flooding back a particular retreat I did when I was fourteen, based on relationships and interactions with others. This councillor is fabulous! For the first time I feel like I may be able to work through this, she has had anorexia so has walked this path before, is fully in Remission for years and works on a more spiritual level as well as being a therapist ( let’s call her S). CBT was helpful at first but it didn’t, for me, feel as if I was understanding WHY I was using these coping mechanisms rather just trying to change them. It’s not to say it’s not great and will work for many but for me, on a practical level, I could not see my self sitting down every time I encounter a anxiety provoking situation and do a five part model. But definitely my therapist was a fantastic woman who helped me so much but I feel that it was not the right type for me at the moment.

sorry going off on a tangent there, it all how ever ties in to the title ( I promise!). The leader of the retreat introduced me to the idea that relationship changes are normal, the idea that people come in to your life for a Reason, A Season or a Lifetime and that no matter which category they fall in to each is as valid and important as the other. At the time I was struggling with changing friendships as the year before we had entered secondary school and friendship “cliques” had been separated and as an anxious person I hated the idea that my friends would think I was being rude, ignoring them or just not wanting to be friends anymore when really we were just, growing apart. That was a normal process and it did not invalidate the strength of that friendship, what it taught us and how we grew from it. It was about accepting that not everything is meant to last forever, change in relationships is normal and no matter the length of time people are in our lives they can shape, through our experiences together, who we are as a person.

When therapists and professionals talk about your eating disorder they talk about it being your friend albeit a toxic one. But the also talk about cutting ties with her, stamping her out, bulling her. The thing is I would never do that to a friend. Especially one I had been attached at the hip to for so long and was now trying to distance myself from. S explained that she doesn’t see this friend as purely toxic and actually that this disease comes into our life to teach us something. Not saying that we need to agree with her, infact she describes her as being like a friend who is a compulsive liar, but there is a reason she is in your life.

The way I see it is if you try to distance your self from someone who was once your best friend, confidant, boyfriend or anyone you allowed to be a major part of your life through anger, punishment or bullying you just end up enraging them and attempts to avoid them in social situations or indeed any unexpected future run ins become incredibly anxiety provoking. Or if you continue to try and cling on to a someone who is no longer enjoyable company, toxic or maybe you have just grown a part from, it can be distressing and prevent you from moving on in life and continuing your development.

By seeing my ED as something that has come in to my life for a reason, I’m accepting of the fact it stayed for a season but If I cling on to it for a lifetime, the friend that became my support system for a period of my life, would stop me from becoming who I could be. But that dose not mean I should stamp it out rather it will always be in my life I just need to figure out how do distance myself from it, create new support systems and figure out what I learnt from our relationship.

(however I still can’t forgive her for landing me in A&E, on my birthday weekend. But I’m working on it 😉

Riding the Recovery Road

Today extreme hunger hit again. I want to cry. Yet I’m giggling at the fact I could eat another 2 bars of dairy milk. Share size. Then feel I’m too tiered to walk to the shops. Que tears. Perfect discription of an otherwise undiscribable situation. Thank you for the reassurance I’m not compleatly alone!

Stumble on Serendipity

Twenty-eight days ago I began my ‘real’ recovery. I took the plunge on committing to the Minnie Maud guidelines. Eleven days ago, I was fully enrolled in the guidelines and began eating 3000 calories as a minimum. Since then, the days have been a bumpy road of emotions.

During my period of quasi-recovery, when I was reading up on Minnie Maud, I did not think recovery would be as much of a bumpy ride for me as it was described – extreme hunger, bloating, water retention, tiredness, crazy emotions. Boy was I wrong. This last week has been tough, confusing and exhausting.

Extreme hunger

For many in recovery, they do not experience extreme hunger, some experience it a little, while for others its hits them hard. I’m one of the latter. It hit me on 31st of May and has not ceased since.

I eat breakfast. Then I eat more. Then I…

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Intimacy and Anorexia

BeautyBeyondBones

A resounding theme that you may have noticed by now is how anorexia and eating disorders are the manifestations of her intense self-hatred, lack of self-love, and inability to receive/accept love. Putting it like that makes it sound so trivial and so “brushed off,” that it makes it difficult to fully grasp the dire implications that this internalization has had on her life, both in the disorder and in recovery.

During the eating disorder, her self-worth has been dictated by the voice of ED in her mind that is telling her that she is unlovable – that she isn’t worthy of love. That she is worthless. She has developed an intense hatred of self – of her body, of her mind, of the exhausting routine that she’s chained to, of her lack of control, and frankly, of her existence. It’s so severe that she’s lost sight of everything else in…

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Never thought I would see you again

Ride this recovery wave. Sit with your feelings and eating what makes you anxious. There will be good days and bad. Your body image will be up and down yadahyahdahyah. Some days you can remind your self that it’s a process and “This too Shall Pass”. Other days you can’t even find those rational thinking in amongst the sudden re surge of disordered thoughts. Today was one of them, after catching sight of my now weight restored body in yoga pants and a sports bra I literally broke down, like didn’t want to go. Where once there was a defined four pack and defined arms are now a bloated belly with visible adipose tissue and arms with so much water retention it hurts to lift them above my head. I felt like a fraud. Undeserving of wearing gym gear and definitely not fit enough or skinny enough to attend a yoga class.

Okay so now I can see the ridiculousness of these thoughts, but at ridiculous-o-clock this morning not so much. Not to get all soppy but my mother came in and with what an only be mothers intuition ( or possibly because I looked like such a stroppy cow..) gave me a big hug and told me how much she admired me for getting up each day and just getting on with it. Things are so financially tight and after everything I have but them through the last few years, guilt pushed me out that front door this morning.

Then half way through the class I saw it. Lying on my back , one leg in the air, there it was. My ankle. We then changed legs. Amafagaaaaaad my other ankle. I joke not this is the first time since I started following my extreme hunger and loosely the minnie maud guidelines over TWO MONTHS AGO, that I have seen my ankle bones. Or indeed any thing that resembled a human ankle. Like I cannot express the excitement with which I am sharing this post I have even taken a picture.

I was so upset with the water retention in my upper body and my “Moon Face” that I had not even noticed my lower body. We see what we want to see in life and what meditation and yoga are teaching me is that, cheesy as it sounds, when we stop and breathe we notice the other things. And more often than not, I’m finding that those things tend to be the more positive ones. For example I’m typing this thinking ” great, another example of how backwards my body is. Only you could defy gravity and lose Edema from the feet up”. Being all fatalistic rather than enjoying the fact I have the ankles of a normal homosapian. Heck they could be gone by tomorrow.

“I am so full, but I’m freaking hungry!” – on extreme hunger and binging

Bye, dear Ana

People told me that extreme hunger would very likely occur during recovery – and it did. For me, it was definitely one of the hardest parts. The decision to get out of my comfort zone and to give recovery a go was already a big step. But, when I was still really underweight, I would eat a bite and feel full. Now that I decided to eat more in order to gain weight, I was hungrier than ever. For those of you who haven’t experienced extreme hunger yet: it’s a kind of hunger you can’t just ignore! I remembered times when I had only a banana for “breakfast”. Now, it became impossible for me to skip a meal. I ate double portions of oatmeal, bananas and 500g of yogurt in the morning. For dinner, it would be pizza, a whole package of crisps and tons of fruit afterwards and I…

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