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The Fire Within

When I decided to leave treatment early this last time, I got a lot of resistance from my treatment team. The message that I got was that they truly did not believe that I could do the work on my own. And that is okay, I don’t hold any anger towards them – more so pride that I proved them wrong.

But for a lot of people, the structure that treatment provides is so incredibly necessary – even life saving. In fact, it was that way for me the first time I went. It was pivotal that I had that structured environment – the ED had taken over too much of my brain for me to make coherent decisions.

But the second time around, I knew in my heart and my gut that if my goal was to truly recover, I needed to make the decision to eat for myself. I couldn’t have a treatment team putting down food in front of me and making the decisions for me. I needed to eat unrestrictedly on my own terms, without adhering to a schedule or the time on the clock to give me ‘permission.’ The permission that I needed could only come from within.

And when I realized that, I knew that I had to leave. I knew a lot of people wouldn’t believe in me and I knew people would be worried that I would simply slip back. But in my heart there was a fire burning, and I knew I had to let it grow stronger and stronger until I was finally set free. This fire had started out as a tiny little kindling, a mixture of anger from the memories ED had forced me to miss out on but also some purpose, courage, determination and perhaps some sadness. I could feel this odd combination of emotions whirling up within me with great strength, and I knew that this time around, my recovery would be different.

My recovery would not be defined by simply eating enough to appease my family. Nor would there be any shortcuts or bargaining with the ED. My life is worth more than that, and I wanted every single part of it back from the ED, not just some of it or must of it, but all of it. That fire has lit the way to where I am today – not quite there, but so much closer than I have ever been. And when the fire dies down or looks like it might be running low, I work to rekindle it and stoke it back to strength with the declaration that my life is worth more than this disease. It is my past but I refuse to let it be my future.

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Getting my wisdom teeth out and recovery?

Getting my wisdom teeth out gave me a glimpse into what recovery could look like?  I state that as a question because the two things seem completely unrelated at first.  They are two different entities entirely, how could being swollen and bruised allow me to remember a piece of my past life – a life without Anorexia?  

For the past couple of days, I was absolutely dreading getting my wisdom teeth out.  I was afraid of how Ana would react – it would be a few days of rest and a whole lot of doing nothing.  I braced myself for the pain Ana would likely put me through, forcing me to move my body despite the surgery.  What ended up happening surprised me immensely.

Yesterday, I got home from my appointment at 10:30 and was utterly exhausted.  I then did something I haven’t done in years – I took a nap. That’s right, I laid down on my mom’s bed, curled up in my SWEATPANTS and slept for two hours.  I woke up afraid, what punishment would Ana inflict upon me for doing this? But for the first time in a very long time, she was quiet. A voice of reason popped into my head, “Georgia you just had surgery and are on a lot of medication.  Resting is completely normal for you today.” I liked that voice, that voice validated my feelings, it made me feel okay.

After waking up I proceeded to do some of the things I have been meaning to get done for weeks, however Ana hasn’t let me sit down long enough to actually do any of them.  I made some phone calls, completed the assignments my dietician assigned me, and even looked into nursing assistant jobs. This was all while sitting under the warmth of the sun outside on my patio.  This may not seem very revolutionary, but for me it was a huge step. I wasn’t forcing myself to sit down, I wasn’t fighting the voice telling me to get up and walk around, I was enjoying myself. There was a beautiful quiet within me.

By that time my jaw was starting to ache, so I took one of the pain medications prescribed to me.  About an hour later, I was cleaning my room and fell asleep on my floor – yes, on my floor (I have a very cozy rug).  Instead of beating myself up for this “laziness” the voice of reason calmed me yet again. “The side effect of those pain medications is sleepiness Georgia.  Don’t worry, this is normal. It’s only one day.”

By dinner time, I had made it through the entire day without the intense feelings of guilt Ana usually inflicted upon me.  By evening, I was not exhausted from the inward battle that usually wages incessantly within. I had a lovely dinner with my family – of mashed potatoes, soup and apple sauce – where I could happily engage in conversation and be totally in the present.

And so now I ask: What happened yesterday that was so different from all my other days?  Yesterday, Ana gave me a break. Apparently wisdom tooth surgery was enough for her to decide I deserved one day off.  I’m not complaining, yesterday was amazing, but how can I make yesterday every single day? That’s what I am trying to figure out, but I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication to make yesterday my reality.

What a different life I could lead by just being kind to myself.  A whole new world was exposed just by listening to my body and my true needs and desires.  I simply treated myself as I would a friend or family member and that mindset made all the difference.

Each and everyday, being kind to myself will look a little bit different.  Yesterday, it looked like a whole lot of rest and quality time with my family.  Next week, it might look like a walk in the park with my dog followed by some time with my friends.  But I know one thing now, yesterday gave me a glimpse into the true happiness I could have just by treating myself with a little respect.  I know that I deserve this, and so do you. Let’s get there together.

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I Choose Recovery Today, Sorry ED

This morning I woke up to a rainy, drizzly day.  If you know me, this is my absolute favorite weather.  It means hot coffee and cozy sweaters, sitting in a cafe or maybe curling up and watching a movie.  Waking up to the pattering of rain on the roof, I was in a great mood. I felt like nothing could stop me from truly enjoying the day.

I had a doctors appointment to check up on my weekly progress, and I was excited to get through it and return home to enjoy an afternoon with my family.

At the appointment, I was told that I had made my first step towards weight gain since I was released from residential treatment last month.

“Yes!  Finally, I am moving forward.”

Okay, so maybe this wasn’t really what popped into my head…

What I was actually thinking was, “Wow Georgia, you gained weight.  You’ve been eating far too much. You need to slow down and probably start doing some cardio.”

But then I started to go on with my day and the thought of restricting brought me so much sadness.  A wave of desperation washed over me as I thought about returning to the misery of reducing my food intake, of making it through the hours without any energy.

The truth was, despite my small gain, I had still woken up as hungry as ever that morning, and my body was still fighting to return to a healthy weight again.  Why did something that should have been so natural – weight gain – need to ruin my entire day? Why was I so mad at myself for something as simple as hunger?

As I thought more about it, I realized I didn’t have to do this to myself.  I didn’t have to listen so wholeheartedly to what Ed was saying. Hadn’t I been so much happier in the past week listening to my body, rather than the demon in my head?

So I am now sitting in a cafe, the rain still coming down on the window beside me.  I am enjoying my morning snack and a coffee to go along with it. Today, regardless of weight gain, I have committed to recovery.  Today, I am choosing recovery because it makes me happy.  I don’t know where I will be tomorrow or the next day, but that doesn’t really matter to me right now.  Because today, I am going to make it a good day, and Ed isn’t going to get in the way of that.

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The Urge to Move – Update

I would love to know if any of you guys have been struggling with or can relate to the feeling that all day, you must be either doing something productive or moving your body.  Recently, I have been doing so much better with not restricting and listening to my body and its hunger cues. With that, I feel like there has been an increase in my desire to move my body.  Of course, there is the natural movement that I think is healthy and in balance but I find that around three pm I hit a low point and I feel the need to excessively move.

I cannot be doing nothing during the day, I cannot relax or take a breath.  The only times when I feel I can rest are in the mornings when I first wake up and in the evenings after my day is done.  This leaves for a physically and mentally exhausting day in which I am constantly pushing myself to tick something off the to do list, to move my body as much as I can, or to being doing something that my eating disorder deems appropriate, an activity that is not “lazy.”

What becomes so tricky, is the fact that its becoming harder to just enjoy my days.  Relaxing no longer gives me the pleasure that it used to because my brain is screaming at me to get up and do something.  I have to write blog posts either in the morning or at night because during the day, I cannot tolerate sitting down for a lengthy amount of time.

I think the first step to overcoming this is just noticing it, and I have definitely taken toll of the urge and its power over me.  I know when I am tired and when I should sit down so I am working on blocking out times in the day when I need to rest. I have found that planning this out has made it easier, almost as though relaxing is my “homework” so to speak.

I am still working on it everyday, and it is still incredibly hard.  As I am writing this post in particular, it is no longer the morning and I am feeling quite compelled to get up and do something active.  I am sitting in my desk chair in my room and have just taken my dog for a walk, so I decided it was time to sit down and write about the urge to move.  It is hard to feel as though you are doing “nothing,” to feel like you could be doing something more productive or more beneficial for yourself. What I often have to do is reframe the feeling and realize that sitting down is actually very good for me, even essential.

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A Subtle Shift – Update

For me, sticking to my meal plan after my first discharge from residential did not go according to plan.  I couldn’t understand why, I had it all mapped out – I had timers set on my phone and specific times when I would eat meals.  I even went grocery shopping and methodically planned dinners with my family. What was I missing? I could not have been more prepared.  So why did the voice of Ed creep up slowly but surely, trying desperately to yet again take control of my life.

So I went back to residential, I worked hard to weight restore and I fought against the voice clanging in my head.  And when I was discharged the second time, something had happened. I still don’t really know what clicked, and I still fall back and make mistakes daily, but something small yet important had shifted in my mind.

There was something in the way I could now go for an hour without worrying about food or exercise that allowed me to catch a glimpse of living in the moment.  Or enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning without trying to find a way to get out of breakfast. Or laughing with my family and actually having the energy to do so.  And the thought slowly occurred to me, “I am so much happier now than the false pretense of happiness I had in the depths of anorexia.”

It was as if I had been offered a window into the life I used to have, and the life I could have again.  And suddenly, food and exercise lost just a little bit of the power over me.  Granted, it wasn’t some momentous shift, I wasn’t suddenly “recovered,” but it was something and I grabbed onto this feeling like a life preserver.

Now, whenever I don’t want to eat my snack or finish my meals, I think about that concept, the idea of truly living in the moment, and I find that my motivation flares up.  Rather than regard that snack as evil or the enemy I try and regard it as energy. Energy so that I can do the things I love, be with the people I love, and achieve the things I want in life.  When food is reframed in this way, it loses some of its control.

So I have learned, it is not all about timers or preparation or even accountability.  Though important, that is only part of the puzzle piece.  I had to find a way to regard food as nourishment, something that is essential to living a rewarding life.  And it doesn’t happen all the time, but sometimes, in the early morning or peaceful evening, I actually live in the present.  For a brief moment in time, I stop worrying about the past or fretting about the future and I live in that moment, and that moment only.