What did I expect?

I feel like such a hypocrite sometimes; maintaining a blog that I intended to be themed around implementing a healthy sense of balance, when I struggle so terribly on a daily basis to practice what I preach.

There are so many days when I write words that I desperately want to apply to myself and then I freeze in the moment when it is time to make a decision.

In the past three years I have gained and lost more than my current body weight in a variety of facilities and at home, and even though my behaviors change marginally or temporarily, I feel like I always end back up at square one.

You are probably sick of reading the same things, similar topics, relentless ED difficulties that appear constantly on this page, but when I was reading one of the threads on Gwyneth’s forum yesterday, I started to think; what did I expect of this process? And have my pre-concieved theories about what recovery “should be” negatively impacted what it is?

I think so, and that is because I either follow protocol outlined in the establishments I was placed to start, or re-start my journey, without really having an authentic ED-free experience, or I allowed outside influences to dictate my path.

Maybe I should be more clear…

Hospitals are really artificial. You are in a relatively sterile environment, on a schedule set and run-like clock work by a staff who watches your every move, corrects “abnormal” behavior, and meals are prepared and pre-determined way before you even have time to be hungry, or determine what you like.

Partial and outpatient works when a person is totally willing to commit to the process; surrender their emotions and actions to professionals and trust that even though it is hard to do the right thing when you are not within the program walls, you will do it anyway because getting rid of ED is the goal.

But as I tried to allude, ALL the aforementioned options are fabulous for a person who is accepting of the fact that they need to relinquish the habits of their unhealthy lifestyle, and actually have something to change.

This is where I run into a problem, and have turned to others to tell me what my recovery should look like.

With all my heart I do not want to live this way anymore; disrupt the happiness of my family and be in constant physical pain that I believe can be fixed by a simple massage when really my bones/body are just very weak and stressed.

I certainly don’t ENJOY hunger or the negative voice that lives within my head.

All that stuff SUCKS and I want it to go away.

….but this can only happen if my expectations about the meaning of recovery become more realistic, personal, and changes occur that I am NOT comfortable with, at all.

Of course dietary alterations are involved, but becoming well is more about the behaviors that need to be amended rather than just packing on the pounds with junk food and weeks of being sedentary.

In one of our outrageous meal time battles I accused Ryan of just wanting me to be a big fat blob, as he prompted me to eat something more calorically dense than what I deemed appropriate.

“What does it matter if I eat the same amount of calories in lettuce or ice cream?! Who cares as long as I eat enough to gain the weight?!”

I guess I was wrong because he went into some long dissertation about how my menu choices were significant because I would never learn to modify my belief system about nutrition without testing ED rules.

…funny because I thought recovery meant I needed to gain weight the “right” way, i.e. with only “healthy” foods.

Lettuce has always been one of the safe foods on my list, whereas I haven’t had ice cream other than when I was in a hospital, since I was a little girl.

Insert Ryan Here: Ice Cream is not bad. It is delicious and a completely normal thing to have if a person is craving a dessert.

The same thing applies with exercise, measuring, and rigidity surrounding my daily schedule…

I need to throw out all the previous mental blocks I have put in place through being sick, and the imagery of what getting-well needed to look like, and build new ones to establish a healthier life.

This may mean non-calculable physical activity, consuming nuts without a 1/8 cup ramekin and going to dinner with friends even when it wasn’t on the agenda for weeks.

When I started my recovery process I honestly thought if I became physically healthy, and put on enough weight to be considered a “normal” BMI, everyone would be happy and I would just have to live with the mental torment that came with being “fat.”

I never considered there might be some freedom, that restaurants could be less scary, traveling could be done without an extra bag of ED-ok’ed products and two pairs of sneakers, and that my body might not always be the devil.

I didn’t think there would be any positives other than having people who weren’t mad or frustrated with me all the time, and not dyeing, but maybe there is some validity to trying new things and working really hard to give up some of the destructive old ones.

How would I know? I have never really gotten too far into the process…

When I recall this past weekend, and my argument to my mom that I didn’t understand her concern when I was doing SO well eating properly and reducing the amount of minutes I spent doing cardio, she couldn’t help but respond with, “in who’s world are you doing better?”

She was obviously referring to the fact that I live in an alternate universe and that although certain aspects of my repertoire have changed that I think are so completely drastic and horrible, I am no where close to what I NEED to be doing in order to restore my health and save myself.

If I am going to be totally upfront with you, I will disclose that now my mom and her fiancée are on the “CJ-go-to-inpatient” bandwagon.

I am resistant for many reasons; one of which is the superficial environment it provides, but more importantly I feel like doing it on my own could be more meaningful and provide a lasting impact.

It is easier to sit down to a meal and eat when you are being forced and just want to go home.

It is helpful to vent to 20 other people who, like you, are stuck sitting around in bedroom slippers with coloring books, all miserable because their bellies are bloated and full of Ensure Plus.

Crying and screaming in an angry rage is almost normal in therapy sessions with those who have also suppressed emotions for the majority of their lives.

But in the real world, recovery work is different and challenging in a way that cannot be simulated in an ED unit.

But I need to first start by accepting that my journey is not just about the number on the scale and appeasing those around me by making it go higher.

Numerous things need to change, but that also means that numerous aspects of life CAN and WILL be better in the long run.

That is what my new expectation for recovery will be.

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “What did I expect?

  1. I see inpatient as necessary for those that seriously NEED to gain weight for medical reasons because it forces you to eat, but I agree that it’s completely artificial and won’t change your mentality. I don’t know exactly where you stand right now.
    Every night as I read my books (Women Food and God or now, Add More Ing To Your Life) I think about both my past and about you and how much our pre-conceived notions about things affects our daily habits and thoughts. One of my goals with health coaching girls with ED is to be someone that understand’s that it’s not about the food…

  2. I completely agree that progress is both more meaningful and more sustainable when acheived independently, rather than though the artificial hospital environment–but obviously if making those steps just isn’t possible alone, IP is better than all the best intentions but no follow-through alone. You want this, but no matter how much you want it, the ED is a huge part of you, and there isn’t anything wrong with needing more outside help. Whatever you decide, I support you all the way and I hope for the best. ❤

    • Thanks so much! I know you and I have both toyed with the idea of symptom management but I wonder if there is a point when that isnt enough anymore? How much can the body truly take without breaking down? Physically a lot of times my body does crave things and want food but it is the mental part that is just so hard to get over. Obviously I am not telling you anything you dont already know, but it is somewhat comforting that you completely understand. I wish you didnt have to!

  3. I credit the 8 weeks I spent in an awful inpatient hospital facility for really setting me on the right track to recovery from Anorexia. I do not think I would be where I am today on my own. I am 24 also and now get my period on my own, eat when my body is hungry, and stop when it is full. I never once imagined I’d live a life so free. Inpatient taught me what I could never have learned on my own… that I could eat A LOT of real food and not turn into a whale overnight! I was by no means “cured” after those two months, really it has taken me about two years. But knowing how awful, painful, miserable [insert negative adjective here] my experience was in the beginning and looking around and realizing that I didn’t want to live a life so restrictive and selfish like the other anorexic inpatients was enough motivation to get me out and keep me on the right track. I’m a strong proponent for inpatient, anorexia is a battle, take all the help you can get! Wishing you well C-J. Life without ED is possible (and it is SO much better!!!!)

    • thank you so much for your insight and input. i am really glad you were able to get the help you need and it is really encouraging to know that there is a life free from this! you are an inspiration! ❤

      • I also VIVIDLY remember thinking that I would NEVER reach any sort of freedom. It was unfathomable for me to think that one day I wouldn’t even care what I ate, that I could laugh and be intimate with another person, that I could find confidence or happiness. So yes, it can happen. Keep doing what you are doing, you just have to want it and it will come. Choose life and health!

  4. I don’t know where I stand on this, I think the hospital is great for needed weight gain but I know it wouldn’t make much of a difference on a mental note. I’ve heard inpatient can be really great for those who want to make the mental and emotional gains but are struggling too much to do it on their own. And I too really don’t want to go to treatment because I feel like it will be such a happy thing to say I recovered on my own without the help of a hospital like setting. I view it as such a negative thing for some reason. Ah, why is the ED so tricky. I really hate that it messes with our brains so much. I think whatever your decision, it will be right for you and everyone will support it. You got to do what you got to do to live your life normally and the best that it can be!

    • I think that is part of the eating disorder itself… the whole ‘wanting to do it on your own’ bit. The hardest thing to do is to admit that you cannot do it on your own, that aspect of giving up your control of the recovery process. control control control – that’s what the eating disorder wants! It takes courage to let that go. The reason I think inpatient was so effective is because I had to give up all of my control, as much as I hated to and trust other people to lead me in the right direction. The eating disorder will never let you recover unless you take the control away from it and put it into the hands of well-intentioned others. It may be artificial, but once you have enough weight on your bones, your mind will begin to function more normally and it will be easier to implement the strategies you learn in treatment in your real life. It just takes practice and patience.

  5. “I think that is part of the eating disorder itself… the whole ‘wanting to do it on your own’ bit. The hardest thing to do is to admit that you cannot do it on your own, that aspect of giving up your control of the recovery process. control control control – that’s what the eating disorder wants! It takes courage to let that go. The reason I think inpatient was so effective is because I had to give up all of my control, as much as I hated to and trust other people to lead me in the right direction. The eating disorder will never let you recover unless you take the control away from it and put it into the hands of well-intentioned others. It may be artificial, but once you have enough weight on your bones, your mind will begin to function more normally and it will be easier to implement the strategies you learn in treatment in your real life. It just takes practice and patience.”…..thank-you Betsy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I feel it is such an important message to come from someone who has lived this process! No matter where you are recovering, you are doing it yourself! You are putting the food in your body and choosing that it stays there. The process of doing that becomes easier as your brain is nourished and you are thinking clearer.. You are still working very hard as an inpt. Therapy is hard, hard work and something no one but you can do with the support of others who know what they are doing. What is the difference in Ryan making your meals and a trained professional doing it? Much less tension between you and your husband…freeing him up for the sole role of loving and supporting his wife! xoxox

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s