Managing New Symptoms

Drained But Not Depleted

Just when you conquer one type of symptom, another one seems to arrive. Either that or a whole new disorder itself.

Life is so wearying sometimes. I am tired of vaulting between not eating and over eating and getting rid of food. All of it is just too much.

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Old Habits Die Hard

Mickey Ghost Apple

Sometimes I am okay with eating, and other times I struggle.

Why is eating so difficult? I eat too much or too little or get rid of it but mostly just obsess about it all of the time. When will I be free of this?

Getting rid of an eating disorder, escaping its clutches, is so much hard work. Will I ever be free? I am not sure but certainly hope so.

Despite my present annoyance at myself, I know that there is progress being made. Do I mess up? Sure. Does that make me an awful person? No. I am human and make mistakes.

Still, fighting the voice inside is so difficult. There are many small victories and big setbacks each day. Progress is all that I can hope for right now.

Ten Things Not to Say to Someone with BED or Compulsive Overeating Disorders

Mario eating food

Mario eating a S’More

When thinking of eating disorders, most people know about anorexia and bulimia at least by name. However, even more common are disorders that fall under EDNOS or eating disorder not otherwise specified. Two of these are BED  or Binge Eating Disorder and Compulsive Overeating. These are just as painful and certainly dangerous to your emotional, physical, and mental health.

Another hard element of these eating disorders is the judgement that goes with them. All eating disorder are judged, but if you also struggle with being overweight, that makes it even worse. Although most people would not have labeled me as having one of these disorders, I certainly feel like I had them through my teenage years. Some of the comments that I heard have altered my body image and confidence for over a decade now.

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Cycle of Overeating and Restricting

Mario eating food

Mario eating a S’More

Ew, gross. That is your first thought when you wake up and look in the mirror. The stresses of work, traumas of the past, and pressures in your relationship are all too much to handle, so you skip breakfast. And snacks. And lunch. Before you know it, the sun has set in the evening, and you still haven’t eaten one bite.

Head whirling like a carousal, you stumble over to the fridge to make a salad. Healthy, right? But the leftover cake catches your eye. Just one bite, one little nibble…a half of an hour later, the cake is gone as is a jar of peanut butter. Still, you continue to search, now in a state of frenzy, for more food. Your stomach cries out like a ravenous beast as you tear about the kitchen in search of prey.

After a tiring binge, you lie down for sleep. The barren craven of your stomach that throbbed all day now aches as Noah’s flood rages inside of you. Lulled to sleep by your own tears, you promise to not eat anything tomorrow. You must be stronger.

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Lapse, Relapse, or Collapse

Taking on the Woes of the World

It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it. – Lou Holtz

When someone who struggles with a mental illness or addiction slips back into unhealthy habits, it is often labeled as a “relapse.” However, where does one say that a relapse is detrimental versus part of the normal recovery process?

If someone eats two extra cookies that were not in her meal plan, is that a relapse? Why, then, is the same word used for the man who eats a whole pie, tub of ice cream, and three bags of chips? Similarly, “relapse” describes when a girl cuts herself once or 100 times.

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Trying Not to Mirror My Freshmen Year

Girl looking up confusedAs pain shot up my legs and my head spun like a merry-go-round, I felt eerily invincible today. Even scarier, my feelings were akin to those at the end of my first year of college. After so much hard work at recovering, I am slipping backward into the pit of restriction.

Eating disorder recovery is one of the hardest processes I have ever endured. Many times, I long to flop down on the ground and die. After a long and painful year, I finally broke inside and could not keep trying to move forward to a healthier place. Giving up by restricting and fantasizing about self-harm seems simpler.

However, even at this low point, I do not want to let these last five weeks mirror my Freshmen year. So many things in my life are different from then. Sure, I still feel ugly, unloved, untalented, and friendless. But there are arguments to be made against those beliefs. Since Freshmen year, guys have told me that I am beautiful, family have stood by my side through at my worst points, directors cast me in several shows, and even tonight friends supported me in buying a salad and actually eating it. Those are all beautiful blessings that I would not have foreseen as a Freshman. I studied at Oxford, was accepted into Disney, traveled to London, was paid to write for a website, applied and was hired at a job…So many steps forward have been made.

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What I Wish That I Learned in Eating Disorder Treatment

Figures of women in Oxford

Figures of women from a museum in Oxford

The past few days have caused me to realize that there are many things that I wish I learned in eating disorder treatment, important aspects of living a normal life with food in it. Without these lessons in treatment, I have struggled greatly to try to adapt to the real world and maintain my recovery.

Now, most of my time in treatment was instructive, healing, and motivating. Health care providers gave me hope with their optimism and constant support. Fellow friends in recovery stood by my side and told me their own stories. Therapy groups taught me to use music, art, CBT, or my faith as a coping skill. Dietitians crafted a meal plan to support my body, lifestyle, and other needs. Acupuncture, yoga, family nights, outings at restaurants – all of the different activities allowed me to heal and explore new aspects of myself that had lay dormant for years.

However, something was still missing. More was needed in my treatment to help me further along in recovery.

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Top Ten Quotes on Compulsive Over-Eating

Mario eating food

Mario eating a S’More

Even for people aware of eating disorders, compulsive over-eating tends to be forgotten. After all, the danger appears to be less if someone is eating and keeping the down the food. However, the agony of this mental illness is just as real as are the medical consequences. Heightened blood pressure, diabetes, loss of mobility, and depression are just a few of the conditions that can accompany compulsive over-eating.

Instead of seeing this type of eating disorder as less important, we should try to support and understand those who struggle with it. For years, this plagued me. The result was deep self-hatred, poor body image, and longing to starve myself. Obviously this disorder is a serious problem and not something to belittle or criticize.

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Body Image is the Last to Go

There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. ― Steve Maraboli

There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. ― Steve Maraboli

Two weeks into Lent, I am having nearly 100 percent of my meal plan every day. Giving up restriction has been simpler than I thought. At the same time, it has been miserably hard. Sometimes, I just want to scream and go back to starving myself.

One of the hardest elements is the constant nagging voice in the back of my head. “You are so fat,” it hisses. Anytime that I sit down, see myself in the mirror, look at my body, or feel my clothing on my skin, I feel nauseous. How can I live in this body for the rest of my life?

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How Big is a Binge?

Eating a chocolate egg

Eating a candy in Oxford

Often, I write on the bottom of my food logs for my dietitian “felt like a binge.”

Binges terrify me partially because I used to struggle with them. Restricting is awful, but eating out of control large amounts filled me with anguish instead of fixing my issues. Going back to that lifestyle still scares me.

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