Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Full Recovery

I believe in full recovery.  There.  I said it.  I also believe that I have achieved full recovery.  There.  It’s out in the open. 

I know there’s a debate about this.  Some people feel very strongly that you can never fully recover from an eating disorder.  But for me, that belief was never good enough.  Once I started fighting for recovery, I wondered what was the point of fighting if I couldn’t beat the damn disease once and for all?  Partial recovery, or even recovery without the “full” in front of it, was just not good enough of a reason to fight.  I wanted full recovery, damnit, and I was going to do whatever it took to get there.

So my life must be perfect, right?  I mean, no eating disorder, so my mind must be like that field that Edward and Bella revisit time and again in Twilight:  full of pretty white flowers and lots of sunshine and nothing to do but lie down and relax and hold hands with your love.  (Yes, I just cited Twilight. My soul is twitching.) 

No, my mind is not perfect.  I am still Bipolar.  My life has its ups and downs and this previous winter was a particularly hellish down.  I have also struggled with self-harm since I was in junior high, and those urges still rear their ugly mean little ghost heads at me and I have to fight to silence their voices.  And yes, I have “issues” from my past that I am dealing with.

Oh, and if you’ve read my previous entries, you’ll probably be wondering what right I have to say I’m fully recovered if I still am having negative thoughts about weight and body image. 

I admit that right now my body image is not perfect.  But wait a second–what the hell does perfect body image look like?  We live in a society where women, and increasingly men, are expected to hate their bodies from the time they put on their first leotard at age three for that cute little dance class.  Advertisements portray only certain bodies.  Magazine articles are all about losing weight and flattening your flab. Even pregnant women are now criticized for having a “baby bump.”  (As to that last one, I say, “What the fuck?!”) 

I’m not 100% happy with my body right now.  But neither do I hate it with a vengeance and have fantasies about slicing off “problem areas” with sharp knives.  I don’t have fantasies about restricting.  I don’t even have fantasies about exercising to the point of complete exhaustion.  And I am not obsessing about my weight 24/7.  

I live a full life now.  One not ruled by obsessive thoughts about changing the body I was given.  I have health concerns that I am addressing with support from my treatment team.  But I’m not spending each and every waking  moment thinking, writing, and talking about weight, size, exercise, or body issues.  I spend my time thinking about the classes I’m teaching, the essays I’m writing, the hats I’m knitting, the friends I’m spending time with, the cats I love to itty bitty pieces, my wonderful and supportive family, and lots of other things that make up a full life.  Having intermittent thoughts about being dissatisfied with my body does not take away from my recovery.  I kind of think that I’m just normal now.

I really and truly believe that full recovery is possible.  That the thoughts behind the eating disorder can go away.  That the obsessions can disappear.  That the desires can fade.  If you set your sights on living fully and freely, this is all in your reach.  Yes, it’s hard as hell to get there, but I’ve never done anything in my life that is worth as much to me as recovery has been. 

I am fully recovered.  I am also human.

August 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Same old thoughts enter new territory

***Warning:  I openly discuss gaining and losing weight, but no specific numbers are mentioned.***

This entry may be a bit scattered.  I wasn’t going to write it at all because it’s not in line with my general discourse, but I think more people need to talk about this because I know I’m not the only one in this place.  But admitting your unhappy with your body, that at times you even hate your body, goes against all the pro-recovery talk. 

And I am very much pro-recovery.  Having certain thoughts doesn’t cancel that out.  They may be contradictory, but I am learning the brain has the power to hold two contradictory thoughts at the same time.  The DBT “motto” is a good example:  You are doing the best you can.  You need to do better.  I used to get so pissed off when I heard that.  Now I understand it, and even remind myself of it from time to time.

SO.  I had a cardiology appointment yesterday, and I got weighed.  To be honest, I was hoping the number would have gone down.  Or at least stayed the same.  I did not expect it to go up a significant amount.  I honestly felt like crying right then and there.  But I didn’t.  And I managed to put my thoughts aside for the 2 1/2 hour drive home that included stop and go traffic through St Louis.  But when I got home, I admit I wasn’t as calm.  I was a bit panicky.  My general thought process at this point in time:

 I’ve been doing things to help me lose weight.   I wasn’t supposed to gain weight.  What the hell am I supposed to do?  I’m actually edging toward the overweight category for my size and frame.  I can’t let this happen.  This was never supposed to be like this.  I can’t exercise any more.  I thought I had cut out the right foods and added in fruits instead.  I know what would be easy to do but I really don’t want to go there.  ARGH!  I don’t know what to do!

Honestly, my way of coping was to cry, take an extra klonopin, go to bed early, and wake up and make bread from scratch.  There’s something calming about kneading dough. 

So why am I writing this?  My body is a wonderful thing.  It is strong and allows me to do things I couldn’t ever do when I was sick.  I’m healthy, which I never was when I was sick.  And, most of the time, I am much happier. 

I had two options for dealing with thoughts like this in the past.  The first was to deny them.  Numb them out–through starvation or self-harm or over-exercise.  The second was to purposely obsess about them and take extreme actions to “remedy” the problem. 

I am looking for the middle ground here.  I think it’s important to acknowledge when we are uncomfortable in our skin instead of just repeating some glib quote about how everything is wonderful now that I’m recovered.  yeah, it sounds good, but it’s not realistic.  These thoughts are here, and covering them up with some affirmation is not going to help them.  And I know beyond any little ounce of doubt that acting on these thoughts will only make them worse (Hurray! for progress!) 

We need a place to address fears such as the ones I’m having, to admit them, to allow them to be and to discuss ways of dealing with them in a healthy, realistic fashion.  Ignoring them isn’t healthy.  Acting rashly is equally unhealthy.  Maybe by acknowledging these thoughts, I can find the middle path.

August 16, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meditation on the Stomach

Today as I was meditating, I accidentally stumbled upon an exercise that is probably a good one to hold on to, although it wasn’t very comfortable.  I was following my breath, feeling the rise and fall of my stomach as I normally do.  My mind was more than a tad restless this morning, though, and I was having problems (more than normal) staying with the breath.  So without really thinking about what I was doing, I rested my hands on my stomach so I could really feel the rise and fall of my stomach.

It took all of, oh maybe one second for the onslaught of negativity to begin.  My stomach wasn’t always this round.  Why is it so round now?  How could I let this happen?  There’s no muscle; it’s all just fat.  It’s disgusting.  I hate it . . .

This was all followed by the inevitable I have to change it.  I guess it shows some degree of progress that the next thought wasn’t I can’t eat lunch or even I have to do more situps.  Rather, I just had this vague notion of needing to change my stomach.  

The truth is my stomach is rounder than it ever has been.  As discussed in my previous entry, this is a result of one hell of a depression, med changes, and, most likely, age. 

And the truth is that I do want to change things, and I have made some minor lifestyle changes, but I don’t know if they’re going to help much. 

So as I was meditating, I had a strong urge to take my hands off my stomach and, thereby, stop all the negative thoughts.  But I didn’t.  I stayed with it, and for the first time in forever let the negative thoughts roll through, unimpeded and unembellished.  And I let myself really feel my stomach on a physical level, through the touch of my hands.  I let myself note the perceived excessive roundness and the softness. 

There were no grand resolutions during this morning’s meditation session.  Just discomfort.  And the knowledge that I needed to let myself feel this without numbing it away somehow.  I don’t know if by doing this, I’ll actually shift into liking my stomach, but I do need to work on accepting the fact that I don’t like my stomach.  

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment