Read this today:
Eating disorders often involve an irrational fear of fatness, weight gain or becoming ‘contaminated’ through unacceptable foods. Just as someone with OCD may have an irrational fear of germs or making mistakes, an individual with anorexia may experience an irrational fear of rejection by others if they gain weight. Thus, “Fatness” becomes associated with feared consequences like loss of control or being unlovable. Both OCD and eating disorders involve avoidance behavior and compulsive behaviors which represent an effort to neutralize anxiety. In both disorders, the obsessions and compulsive behaviors marginalize other areas of life and interfere with building a life filled with joy and meaning (http://mccallumplace.com/blog/2013/10/22/the-only-way-out-is-through-part-one/).
Exposure work is done to reduce the power of such beliefs over a person’s behavior, thereby improving functioning and reducing distress. This is achieved not only in sessions, but also by having patients practice their own exposures between sessions and closely monitoring their patterns of anxiety, rituals, and avoidance (http://www.eatingdisordersreview.com/nl/nl_edr_22_5_1.html).
I can sit down for a meal without overthinking and I can eat outside of mealtimes (I still have to fight through these rituals sometimes, but that’s just the battle I need to be conscious of right now). I have fought the blacklist (white bread, cheese, higher sugar chocolate, dark meat, maple syrup and honey, unmeasured snacks of alcohol and chocolate) and am not fat, dead or caring about the future of either. I don’t even know if there are things that should be on this list for “normal” eating that doesn’t happen? Maybe fried foods? Calamari would be the one thing, but other than that, is there really anything that I used to eat that I don’t anymore? Sausage maybe? Ok, so two more for the list. Two more to fall down. 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder: Effective Strategies from Therapeutic Practice and Personal Experience by Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb states that: “being recovered is when the person can accept his or her natural body size and shape and no longer has a self-destructive relationship with food or exercise.” Anything that I suffer by not eating, anything that’s self-destructive anymore?
Tonight, I will experiment with dark v. light chocolate, to see how it goes in terms of my desires – do I prefer one to the other? I definitely like the flavour of chocolate, like I enjoy the flavour of wine, and testing different varieties interests me – this is part of me (a la Sam Winchester’s REAL or NOT REAL). This experiment a personal choice, not a doctor’s order. I can do this; I can deal with the uncertainty.
This goes further than the eating disorder – this is the source of some of the other anxieties I feel: around sitting down, around sex.
I believe that some of my personality traits that led to the anorexia still have the power to get out of hand – I’m high anxiety, high achieving, etc. – but I try and manage those things now through exercise, rest and cultivating a loving relationship with myself, my work, my partner, my peers, etc. … Perfectionism is the enemy of ever actually creating anything meaningful, so I work constantly to create high-quality products and gain strength within myself, but to simultaneously see through and let go of the illusion of perfection (http://fightinganorexia.com/hope-interview-series-part-i-with-jen-from-ms-morphosis/).
I have gotten myself in a state that the stress of the world manifests not in anxiety towards that world, but towards other things that I can control: food, emotion, sex, passion. I need to supplant this by either decreasing my anxiety response (yoga, working out, journal-writing), but maybe exposure therapy would work with these too? Making an anxiety list around being naked together, around sitting and reading or watching a TV show, around kissing and not knowing what’s next (and that performance will not suffer), around uncertainty and accepting that I have the power to be ok, all by myself, and that I don’t need a doctor to tell me that.
Some final readings:
Being “recovered” isn’t about always being happy 100% of the time – it’s about knowing what to do when you’re not (http://www.edrs.net/1/archives/06-2012/1.html).
“I want my recovery to be perfect.” Nobody’s recovery is perfect. We ALL struggle. Besides, there IS no perfect recovery (http://fightinganorexia.com/024-fighting-anorexia-obstacles/).
There was greasy-ass Chinese food for lunch at the workshop I attended today – had oatmeal instead and I don’t think that this is a bad thing. White rice, MSG and all the delightful things that go along with it – avoiding this stuff is not a bad thing. I did not suffer and not eat (which would have been the anorexic’s choice), but I avoided the garbage. This is ok. This is not disordered. This is normal. I have the power to be ok, all by myself, and I don’t need a doctor to tell me that.
“None but ourselves can free our minds” – Bob Marley.