I got this interesting new book called "How to be Happy (or at least less sad)." It's not a self-help book, but more of a workbook to explore your thoughts/feelings, recognize them, express them, etc. And it's like a quick thing you can do, not something where you have to spend like 45 minutes writing paragraphs to explain your current emotional status. Just like a quick 5-10min activity at most.

Above is the book (obviously) and a quick page I filled out. I'm going to try to make it a regular thing I do. Maybe not every day, but every few days to kind of check in with myself or process things. I don't know.
I like how in the introduction of the book, the author talks about how this isn't a Self-Help book. In fact, most Self-Help books pretty much fail you. I mean, I've gotten some benefit from Self-Help books, but they definitely haven't cured my problems (Although a book I highly recommend, which when I read it I thought was the lamest read ever, actually changed my life and way of thinking. It's called "The Happiness Trap." It will be a silly read, but if you actually apply the practices to real life, it does help.). The author also talks about how striving for happiness made him ultimately more unhappy, and a more attainable goal is to try to be less sad. Which I liked. Maybe happiness is possible, maybe it's not, but baby steps, right?
I have a tendency to skim through books (especially Self-Help books) to see what I'm getting myself into, and prejudge if I'm going to like it. I found a quote in there that was really relevant.
"You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness."
-Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The quote hits home, and I have talked a lot about this in therapy. But I spend a lot of my time and energy on protecting myself from the bad feelings that go through my mind. Sadness, shame, grief, worthlessness, hopelessness, loneliness, the list goes on. My eating disorder plays a huge role in this too, because it numbs out most of the bad (except anger, which all my emotions get channeled through, and intensifies during my ED). But along with the bad, I'm numbing out everything else. Happiness, excitement, pleasure, joy, and again, the list goes on.
But Jonathan Safran Foer is right. You can't have it both ways. You can't just hide from the bad emotions and expect the good ones to hang around. That's hard for me to wrap my mind around. It's hard for me to accept. I worry, what if I allow the bad ones back in, but the good emotions don't come back?
I spent a lot of years suffocated by the bad emotions, that it's hard to know that I have any of the good left. I know it's been proven otherwise. I've had experiences coming out of treatment where I've felt good, on top of the world. But the bad emotions always flood back and overwhelm me. Maybe I just don't know how to live with the bad ones, how to manage them so they don't intensify. But I feel like there's this pattern, where I take care of myself, treat myself well, challenge my eating disorder in it's entirety (including my social isolation). And for a while it works. But it doesn't last. Reality hits me. That life is bad to live, and it's never going to be good. And then I go back to my eating disorder, because I know how to handle my eating disorder and live with those emotions (anger.), but I can't handle the rest. My eating disorder will either leave me numb yet full of anger, or it will kill me, and those seem much more appealing than living in a world full of self-hate and unpleasant emotions.

Thanksgiving... my thoughts, the bad, but the good as well

I was going to write a post about everything I hate about Thanksgiving, but I decided to go a different route. I don't particularly like thanksgiving, but that has a lot to do with my eating disorder. It's been a long time since I've spent a Thanksgiving with my family, and that has mostly to do with my eating disorder. My eating disorder gets in the way of me enjoying things like this with my family. It causes great anxiety around food and people, and especially when you put the two together.

Over the last two years, I've overcome my battle of being able to eat with my immediate family, for a long time I couldn't even be seen with food around them. If I went to the grocery store, I'd shove the food in my purse until I got up to my room where I could hide it from my family. I cooked in my room using a toaster oven, and ate in my room. Never did I think I'd be able to eat in front of people. I've even overcome barriers about eating in front of strangers (although I still have a lot of anxiety around it, and prefer to eat in my car). But something about eating with my relatives, especially on a holiday, is still really hard for me. I can't wrap my mind around doing it, or even why I have such great anxiety with doing it.

Maybe if it was just one person, or two, I'd be okay with it. But I feel like when my eating disorder became apparent to the rest of my family, it was such an awkward experience. I felt like people were watching everything I ate with a critical eye. And even though I'm much healthier, physically, now, I still wonder what goes through people's minds when they see me eat. "Is she going to eat that?" "Why isn't she eating x?" "Wow, that's a lot of z!" "She doesn't eat like she has an eating disorder." All these things, I don't know why they matter, but it makes me super anxious to be around my family and food at the same time.

It's been years since I've spent Thanksgiving with my family.
2008 - Our house. I was working for most of it, but came home for dinner. I remember being called fat at the dinner table (not in those exact words), and purging afterwards (not because of the comment, but because I was pretty in my ED at this time).
2009 - Deep in my ED. Thanksgiving was at my relatives house. I stayed home because I was too sick and emaciated, and was afraid of what people would say to me. This was about a week before I went into treatment for the first time.
2010 - At our house. I remember engaging with my cousins when they first came. But someone asked me if I was going to eat thanksgiving with them and I said no, and they replied that they guessed that. I remember spending the rest of thanksgiving in my room except when I had to come out for family pictures. I also remember scouting the house for food to binge and purge on when my family was out paintballing.
2011 - I was in Texas, I remember crying in Texas because I knew I would never spend another holiday with my family, because I was so deep in my ED at that time, and that made me sad because I love my family.
2012 - At our house. I remember stacking suitcases and a table up against my door and keeping the lights off and playing depressing music to tune out what was going on downstairs. I kept my door blocked because I was terrified someone was going to come in and see me, to see my existence in general.
2013 - I believe it was at my relatives house. I spent it at home, again. I don't remember too much about this thanksgiving, other than that I was deep in my ED, and my therapist said I spent a session crying about how I would have liked to have been able to spend it with my family. About a month before going into treatment for a second time (which pretty much changed my life for the better).
2014 - Much better year, but still to scared to celebrate with my family. It was at our house this year. I spent thanksgiving in VA with my friend, but I had also made a goal with my therapist that I would engage with my family at least once while they were over. And I did. I tried to say hi to most of my family, and I chatted with my cousins for a little bit. It was a stretch, but a huge success for me. I'd avoided my family for years, and to actually be able to talk to them, and not have them avoid me felt amazing.
2015 - This Thanksgiving. I'm not where I was last year. My family is in West Virginia with my family celebrating. I wish I had had the courage to go. I think if it was just one day, I could have done it. I did have commitments, but to be honest I could have gotten out of them. I'm sad that I'm still not in a place where I feel like I can enjoy the holidays with my family, as those are some of my best memories from when I was younger. I'm scared that I'll never come to a point where I'll be able to celebrate with them. Even if I do, I feel like I've broken strong relationships that I used to have, and that holidays with my family will never be what they were.

But for the good.... I have a lot to be thankful for. This list may come across as slightly silly, but all the things I'm thankful for I truly am.
  • God. I'm learning to love God more and more everyday, and see His love for me. I know God created me with a purpose, and that purpose is beyond my eating disorder. I'm grateful that I have a God that will love me regardless of what I do, and will continue to fight this battle with me if I let him.
  • Unicorns. Unicorns have a very stable place in my heart and always will. They've given me something to be passionate about, to bring me joy. Anything unicorn related always lights up my heart.
  • Pumpkin. I'm thankful that this year I've actually been able to try a lot of the pumpkin products that I was once too terrified to try.
  • My family. They've been there for me through so much. Even after years of shutting them away from me, they still love and support me.
  • Coffee. I love love love coffee. I don't drink it much anymore, because a lot of times it reminds me of the darkness of my eating disorder. But when I'm drinking it (and following my meal plan), it makes me feel warm and comforted.
  • Natty and Boh. My two sweet dogs. I love everything about them. They make me feel not alone and comforted, they bring me joy, and give me someone to love.
There's a lot more I'm grateful for. Especially people. But know if you're reading this, I'm probably thankful for you, because you've somehow made a difference in my life (and because you're reading this and bumping up my views ;) ).

Feeling really pessimistic about recovery, lots of shit talk, so read with caution

I'm feeling very torn between wanting to recover and wanting to run back to my ED. There's like a small sliver of me that wants to recover, and that's the part of me that wants a future, to be self-sufficient, to not have to rely on my parents for everything, to work with kids, to be an inspiration for others, to be joyful, to live for God. But right now, most of me wants none of that. I feel really defeated. Like I can do the actions of recovery, but I hate every single part of it. I hate giving up a huge chunk of my life. Something that has kept me so safe, yet miserable at the same time.

Do I like living in misery? That's such a silly question. No, but yes. I don't know why, that makes no sense. When I'm in my eating disorder and living in misery, it's like a bubble that keeps me sheltered from everything else. I don't want to be happy. I do, but I don't. Everything is so confusing. I don't want anything to do with recovery, yet I'm doing all these things to seek help. I want to touch it, but dare I? It's terrifying to get anywhere close to.

It's not just gaining weight or not losing weight or eating that's hard, it's letting go of my eating disorder, my world I live in. I would love to just eat food and not have these evil thoughts running through my head. Gaining weight freaks me out, not because I think I'm getting fat (although those thoughts run through my mind as the weight steadily increases), it's knowing that I'm losing a big part of myself.

Tonight my dietitian basically told me that I have no excuse not to meet my minimum caloric requirements, that I HAVE to supplement if I'm below my minimum. But you know what, I don't want to. I don't want recovery anymore because it sucks. It's not even about not wanting to gain weight or losing weight or eating. I just want to be miserable in my eating disorder and not let it go. Fuck recovery, that shit blows. In fact, my eating disorder can kill me and I wouldn't give a shit. Because I'd be dead.

I don't know why I'm doing all these recovery oriented things. Because I don't want it, not fully. I'm so tempted to just cancel everything, and crawl back into my eating disordered life. And fucking "waste away" until I die.

Excuse my language. I'm angry. I don't know why. I guess I'm angry because everything that I am is basically being taken away from me and I'm not ready for it.

Am I Ready to Surrender Control of my Life to the Lord?

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." -Romans 12:1-2 
I've been meeting with a leader on campus from Cru, and going through a booklet about life with God. Part of the booklet had the question, "Am I ready now to surrender control of my life to our Lord Jesus Christ?" along with the previous passage.

I've surrendered my life to God, but to surrender CONTROL of my life? That's totally different. I feel very lost and conflicted on this. I want to live my life for God, for His will. But part of that is surrendering my eating disorder to Him (which is so much easier said than done). I'm so scared of letting go of something that has controlled my life for so long. I want to be able to surrender control of my life to God, but I don't want to. I feel like I'm not ready. Like I can give Him pieces of my life, but not the whole thing. Losing my eating disorder is scary, for reasons I've previously posted about.

I was also listening to WGTS (91.9) and there was a song by Casting Crowns called Thrive, where they talk about how we were made for more than ordinary life and more than just surviving, but to thrive. And without God, I can't do that. I'm not thriving. I'm living through the motions of life, but I'm not living for God, which God calls us to do.


Why am I even doing this?

Why am I wasting my time? Why am I going through all of this? Why am I doing therapy, counseling, nutrition, art therapy, dine, seeing my physician and psychiatrist? Do I really want to get better? Because a big part of me says no. Am I really trying? Some days, maybe. But other days, no. I feel like I take a couple of steps closer to recovery, freak out, and slide back. Recovery terrifies me. I don't know if I want it. I mean, a part of me does, I want a future, a career. But what if all that fails? What will I be without my eating disorder? There's only a small sliver of me that wants to get better, and that's the part of me that loves spending time with my family and craves connection, the part of me that wants to be a child life specialist. But the rest of me says "screw it." Life is easier to deal with while in my eating disorder. I mean, not really, it's harder. But it masks everything and makes the world about my eating disorder, where nothing else matters. I don't know what I'm doing. I'm wasting time and money, and everyone else's time. Really all I want to do is stay out of treatment, because I don't have time for that. And I don't want to disappoint my family. I want to live a functional life with my eating disorder, if that's even possible. But recovery? That's so far-fetched. I want to go back to feeling like a zombie, living on coffee and safe foods, numbing out the world, feeling invisible. Why am I half-assing recovery, when I don't even know if I really want it?

The Media.... Oh Boy

On Wednesday, in my Psychology of Women class, we talked about women and mental health, including eating disorders. They showed the following video...

...and basically the entire lecture is how the media is the biggest contributor to eating disorders.

Ugh. I strongly disagree. I never gave a shit about the media (pardon my language). I don't think I've ever compared my body to those in the media, or strived to look like someone in a magazine. Most of my body image problems in adolescents were influenced by my family's own body issues (my brothers were wrestlers, I was strongly influenced by my parents dieting and comments about bodies in general, etc.). That's not to say my family caused my eating disorder in any way, but my body image issues stemmed from my family.

It's not to say that the media doesn't influence girls at a young age, but I don't think it's a big predictor of an eating disorder. It may lay the groundwork for some insecurities. But never in treatment have I met someone who's eating disorder was caused by body image issues and the media. There are a lot of contributing factors to an eating disorder - psychological, environmental, genetics. They all play a role.

While body image was a big issue for me when I was in my early teens, I don't think that was the main cause of my disordered eating (however, I can't say it didn't contribute to the way my problems manifested). I think a lot of it had to do with low self esteem, not fitting in with my peers, low self-worth, and the changes I was going through during that time (physically, emotionally, and mentally).

But my eating disorder really spiraled after my family's trauma. Trauma is a huge contributing factor for many people's eating disorders (not all, but that's been a huge theme in treatment that I've seen). I wish my professor would have touched more on not necessarily every single contributing factor to eating disorders (because they're infinite - everyone's eating disorder starts differently), but on the fact that they're complex, and so many factors come together to start an eating disorder and maintain one.

I think talking about the media and eating disorders oversimplifies an eating disorder, and makes it seem like it's an easy fix. Just change the way the media portrays women, or boost your daughter's body image, and we can eliminate eating disorders? Nope. Again, that's not to say the media isn't a problem, and that it can't lay the groundwork for body image problems in young girls. But there's a huge difference between having bad body image (who doesn't?) and developing an eating disorder.

Unicorns and my Recovery

Had to...

Most people who know me, know my obsession with unicorns. It's pretty real. But I've always kind of thought of my obsession with unicorns as almost like a metaphor for my eating disorder. I know that sounds really odd, but I'll explain.

My obsession with unicorns began around the age of 17. A little bit after the time that Jesse died. I think it was a way for me to take my mind off of the tough things in life and channel it into something else. I was also struggling with my ED at this time, but unicorns was another outlet, something that brought joy, something that I could focus all my attention on, something that I could use to relate to other people. For instance, I remember buying these awesome unicorn converse (which I no longer own :(. ), and it being the cool thing that I'd go around sharing with my cousins. "Look at these awesome shoes." And I'd get validation, that they were in fact pretty awesome.

Like my eating disorder, my unicorn obsession filled a void. It also served many purposes similar to my eating disorder. For one, it gives me an identity. Everyone on social media (facebook, tumblr, instagram, etc.) and real life knows me as the unicorn obsessed girl. People are constantly posting unicorn pics, quotes, things to buy, etc., on my facebook wall. I'm known for being obsessed with unicorns by others, but also by myself. I KNOW I'm the unique one with the unicorn obsession.

Along with that, it's something that's MINE. I'm the unicorn obsessed. I get defensive and dominate over it. If someone else expresses interest in unicorns, I immediately get angry, because unicorns is my thing. I have control over it. And I feel like if someone else gets excited over unicorns, they're taking something important away from me. People know me for my obsession, and they know it's mine.

Like my eating disorder, it's also something that controls my thoughts, but in a more positive way. I'm constantly thinking about unicorns (when I'm not in my eating disorder). I could spend hours (I have) looking up unicorn paraphernalia online. I have an entire unicorn board on Pinterest. It's something I can use to take my mind off of the things that I don't want to think about.

But unlike my eating disorder, it brings something else. It brings me passion, and joy. It keeps me lighthearted. It adds fun to my life. I enjoy thinking about unicorns, and posting my cool new unicorn gear, and bragging about how much unicorn stuff I have. It keeps me connected to people, because it gives us something to talk about. Unicorns was kind of a hot topic in my old house.

So how does this all relate to my recovery? I think it serves the purpose that I can find other ways to have an identity outside of my eating disorder, unicorns being a big one. I can focus on my obsession with unicorns as something that's mine, instead of feeling possessive of my eating disorder. It's something I can rear my mind to when I want to avoid the tough feelings (which I do have to deal with eventually). It can keep me connected to people. And it can feed my happiness and help me to not dwell on the unpleasant things in life.

Fears vs. Benefits of Recovery

My dietitian gave me an assignment to write out my fears of recovery, and the benefits of recovery. I had no problem coming up with a list of fears (although while they're all different, some may seem really similar), but I struggled with making a list of benefits.

Here are the lists.

Fears of Recovery
  1. Being weight restored and still having all my ED thoughts and behaviors (e.g. obsessive compulsive behaviors around food, anxiety or avoidance of eating around people, constantly obsessing over what I'm going to eat, etc.)
  2. Being recovered from my ED, but still having all my other problems & not being able to cope with them.
  3. Losing my identity - not knowing who I am without my ED, or feeling unique/different.
  4. Feeling valueless
  5. Fear that I'll do all the work and fail at recovery, and that I'll do all the work for nothing.
  6. All the emotions that I numb out with my ED coming at me with full force.
  7. Not having it as a safety net or back up plan - doing poorly in school, not being able to be self-sufficient, not doing well in my career, being alone.
  8. Not feeling loved by my family, losing their emotional support.
  9. Not getting attention from my family.
  10. Not having something that's MINE, that I have complete control over.
  11. Being alone and rejected and feeling worthless; with my ED, none of that matters.
  12. Dealing with things in the big world - my ED makes me only have to deal with one simple thing - my ED.
  13. Dealing with responsibilities of growing up that I've been able to avoid.
  14. Being independent - as much as I know independence is a good thing, I don't feel equipped for it. And I was independent most of my life, and I feel like I missed out on being dependent.
  15. Not being cared for/about
  16. Losing my community of friends who get what I'm going through and support me - all my "friends" are from treatment. Not making real friends.
  17. Not being able to handle life outside of my ED.
  18. Feeling like nothing because I don't have my ED.
  19. Not having the structure, rigidity, routine my ED brings me.
  20. Not being able to celebrate holidays with my family, because my ED has made things incredibly scary and awkward with them.
Benefits of Recovery
  1. Not being controlled by my ED, feeling free.
  2. Experiencing positive emotions - but that also scares me, because you can't have the good without the bad.
  3. Having energy to do well in school and volunteering.
  4. Thinking clearly.
  5. Being physically healthy (which also scares me - see list above)
  6. Being able to enjoy meals with my family.
  7. Participating in holidays and vacations with my family.
  8. Not isolating all the time.
  9. Future - grad school, career, maybe a family.
  10. Being able to tell my story and give hope to others.
  11. Maybe being able to make friends, and actually enjoy being with other people.
  12. Not being tired all the time.
  13. Not being a financial and emotional burden on my family.
  14. Maybe being able to find things I enjoy - but also scares me because what if I don't?

"Happy Birthday, Jesse"

Stop. It makes me so mad.

For those who don't know, Jesse is my baby brother. He was born 9 years ago today (Nov 13, 2006), and killed 33 days later in a car crash.

I remember Jesse. I remember the night I was working at Safeway, texting with my parents while they were at the hospital before he was born, and after he was born. I remember taking turns holding him in the hospital with my younger siblings. I remember putting a football helmet on him, and holding a football next to him. I remember fighting over who was going to sit next to him in the car. I remember lying in the woods hearing "where's Jesse?" over and over as the paramedics searched for him. I remember crying as my dad told me, "Jesse died," while lying in a hospital bed waiting to be stitched up. That day still haunts me.

But I hate seeing, "Happy Birthday, Jesse. We miss you." Or posts along those lines. It's okay from my immediate family, because they had the privilege of knowing Jesse, of holding him. They're the ones who genuinely miss Jesse, and miss the life they could have spent with him.

But for everyone else, maybe you met Jesse for a brief moment. But you didn't know Jesse. I hardly knew Jesse. I knew him for 33 days. I feel like you're stealing something precious from me. Jesse was, is, my brother. And I feel like I'm being stabbed when someone steals that from me.

I understand wanting to recognize Jesse on his birthday, or showing support to our family. It just makes me incredibly angry because Jesse is precious to me. And I feel like if you're not in my immediate family, you don't understand just how precious he was. Maybe I'm being selfish for wanting Jesse's day to myself. But my family went through tremendous pain when Jesse died, and I feel completely invalidated when people toss around, "Happy Birthday, Jesse. Rest in Peace." Like you're stealing something painful and intimidate to me, and owning it as yours.

Maybe this makes no sense at all. Maybe I'm being entirely selfish. Maybe my parents and siblings feel differently than me. But I feel like you're stealing my love and my adoration from me, and you're invalidating the pain that came along with losing my brother.

All that being said, I will always think about Jesse, especially on his birthday, and the anniversary of the accident. I feel so much love towards my family when we celebrate Jesse's life together. It's like a bonding moment, something that holds our family close. Jesse's birthday is a sad day to remember, but also a happy day in an odd way, because my family spends valuable time celebrating his life. We have a tradition where we go to his grave plot and visit him, and let blue balloons go and rise to him to heaven. I feel like the celebration is more for my younger siblings, who don't have as strong memories of his birth and life. It's a way for them to remember and recognize his life. I truly value the time I spend with my family on this day, and appreciate the joy of my siblings as we partake in traditions in Jesse's memory.

Alexa Penavega's Dancing with the Star's Representation of Bulimia

An amazing representation of bulimia by Alexa Penavega on Dancing with the Stars. This dance really resonated with me. I feel like this can represent the possession of any addiction, whether it be an eating disorder, drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc. The way it takes over you and holds you and doesn't let you free. It controls you while you try to break free from it. Amazing to watch.

Art Therapy: Body Tracing

I don't think I have body image issues. I hate that I have a body and that I have to think about and take care of and deal with it, but I don't think I'm fat. I don't like my body, or having a body, but I've kind of accepted that it's always going to be that way.

Yesterday I had art therapy and we did a body tracing. I was reluctant, because my fear was that I was going to draw my body and then she was going to trace it, and it was going to be totally bigger than I thought. We decided that I wasn't going to draw my body, but instead she'd trace it and we'd go forward from there.

When I think of body tracings, my initial thought is most people think they're bigger than they are, and it's this big awakening moment where they find out that their body takes up less space than it actually does. That's not what happened for me. My body looked kind of like I expected it to, which was disappointing.

I don't think I'm fat, but I don't think I'm small. I think I'm average. I've been told that I'm small, and I wanted the image I saw to reflect what I've been told, or what my weight says. But it didn't. It was just an average body, with big hips and stubby legs. But I knew that I have stubby legs and big hips. I've been told that I have "child bearing hips" and I come from a family with short legs and big calves. Just to reiterate, I was disappointed that it wasn't a shocking moment where I was like "oh, I actually am small."

But enough about my body. After we did the whole point out what you like/dislike about your body thing, we did some collaging. I'm not sure what exactly I was supposed to do, but when I asked for clarification, she told me to do what I felt inclined to do. Basically I collaged the body with images that I felt represented different parts of my body, or emotions I felt in different parts of my body or in my head things that I thought about a lot.

The themes that came up were anger, death, anxiety, and I can't remember what else. I wish I had taken a picture so I could remember. She asked me about anger and if I feel anger a lot, and I told her I do, towards a lot of people. I feel like I'm filled with anger. I've worked a lot on managing my anger and taming it, and not expressing it physically. But it's still there, and sometimes it manifests itself as hurt, or hate towards myself.

I think next week we're going to do work on anger have, but I'm not really sure what that's going to look like.

Why is it truly so hard to let go of my eating disorder?

I feel so stuck in my eating disorder right now. Conflicted between wanting to get better, while still grasping so tightly to my eating disorder. Right now the grasp is tighter than the pull to recovery. Over the months, I've made a list of things that are holding me so tightly to my eating disorder. I feel like there’s so much more tied into my eating disorder than just food and body image (and right now body image isn’t that big of a factor for me anyways). But I feel like I get the food aspect of things under control, and then everything else is still there, and actually gets bigger because I don’t have my eating disorder to help anymore. Which in turn, pulls me back to my eating disorder. I've experienced this enough times, that it makes it scary to even take the steps to let go, because I don't want to be free of my eating disorder completely or even a little bit, because the drivers are still there. And it's so scary to live without my eating disorder.

I made a list of functions of my eating disorder (I always think of more, so this is a shortened version of it.):

It gives me an identity, makes me feel like someone when I don’t feel like I have any value in this world.

Along with the above, it makes me unique, and different.

Emotion numbing/avoidance - feelings of shame, anger, worthlessness, like I don’t belong, unlovable, etc.

It’s what I know best, it’s comfortable.

It’s a safety net - when I feel hopeless about everything in my life, and fear of failure, at least I have my eating disorder to keep me safe.

It helps me feel like I am loved by my family. And even by others who are helping me in the healing process.

Attention - I didn’t get attention when I was younger or in my teens (at least the attention I needed - when it was most important), and my eating disorder helps give me that.

Feeling like it’s mine, I own it, I can control it.

Worthlessness - feeling like I’m undeserving of love and affection, like I’m nobody, like I can’t keep connections.

Keeps me safe from being rejected, because it keeps me isolated from everyone.

Makes my world small - I can’t deal with everything in the big world, and when I’m so focused on my eating disorder, that’s all that matters.

Channeling my negative emotions on myself.

Structure, rigidity, routine, when everything else is chaotic.

Avoiding responsibility - not wanting to grow up, stay young, and be cared for like a child.

Community of friends who get what I'm going through, and are supportive of me.

I know all these things seem trivial, but they're real and big to me. It's scary to let go of something that's been a huge safety net for me in the past.

Dietitian Appointment (trigger warning, no numbers)

I had my appointment with my dietitian last night, and it was really challenging (they're all really challenging, but this one was particularly challenging). I've only seen my new dietitian 3 times, but she really challenges me and is hard on me (but it super nice at the same time), which I need.

I had struggled since the last appointment (typical), and have lost a fair bit of weight (ongoing, but she was pretty concerned about the drop this week). She kept telling me that I could be in a hospital right now. Of course I fought her and told her I'd been at much lower weights and still hadn't been hospitalized. She told me how eating disorders are scary and aren't like other illnesses such as cancer where you may have some anticipation of death occurring. In EDs, your body is resilient, but only up to a point. I've battled my eating disorder for a long time, and have lost weight, gained it back, lost weight, gained it back, etc. She told me how at any point my body could just start shutting down, even if my labs are fine. That I could just have a heart attack.

Part of me knows this, I've known plenty of people in treatment who have died from their ED. And that's not an exaggeration. On one hand, it's scary to think about. My body has been resilient. I've put it through years of damage, but my body has been faithful to me. But she's right, people CAN die from their ED at any point. On one hand, I want that to be scary to me. But it's not. I keep thinking I'm invincible, my body won't shut down on me, it can't. Or who cares? My life is pointless anyways, I'm not making progress, I have no purpose in this world, so why does it matter? I've thought about suicide a lot, but dying from an eating disorder, in a very sick way, is much more appeasing to me than committing suicide. So, so what if it kills me.

I didn't share those thoughts with her (although looking back maybe I should have?), but we did talk a lot about it. She has a caloric goal for me to hit every week (which isn't high given the meal plans I've been on in treatment, but is still scary for me to think about reaching), and I have been able to meet it a couple of times. But there's so much fear and guilt in letting go and giving recovery 100%. I'm scared of gaining weight, yes, but what's even more terrifying is giving up my eating disorder.

She told me if I dropped anymore weight she'd have to put me on supplements. She didn't mean it as a threat, and I didn't take it as one. More like, so what? I'm so conflicted right now in terms of recovery. I want it, but I don't. I'm sure that makes perfect sense to someone struggling with an eating disorder, but sounds pretty confusing if you don't struggle with addiction of some sort. Maybe you get it, I don't know.

On a happy note, today I met my caloric goal. I feel like crap because of it, my ED is screaming loudly at me. But I did something good, I guess. Even though it doesn't feel like it.