Impatience and a relapse

Content warning: Food, calories

I tried to do too much too soon in terms of eating. I wanted to dive in and tried to “eat normally” straight away and it was wildly unrealistic of me. This was a combination of my impatience and a lack of recognition that I genuinely have anorexia. Underneath it all I was convinced I could stop any time I wanted and that I was just attention seeking. When in fact I have serious issues with food, I know that now, and actually attention seeking is a valid reaction to my invalidating life experiences.

Yesterday I felt a huge emotional backlash to my attempts to eat normally on Thursday and Wednesday evening. I panicked all Thursday night, couldn’t sleep, and went online to join the gym.

The next day I planned to eat nothing and exercise all day to try to undo what I perceived as a huge mistake. I spent Friday morning at the gym and then headed to my occupational therapy appointment.

Thankfully I was able to be honest with her about what was going on for me. She suggested I not push myself so hard so early on. It had led to me feelng out of control and like I was binge eating. I let myself get too hungry between meals, and that and my body crying out for calories due to being starved for so long revealed a huge appetite. I felt this confirmed all my worst fears – that if I ate what I wanted to eat I wouldn’t be able to stop once I started and I would get enormous. In fact it’s likely that once I’m eating a normal amount regularly and I reach a healthy weight for my height, my appetite would reach a normal level too. I’ve never been overweight in my life, so why would that happen once I am consciously trying to have a healthy relationship with food?

My OT suggested as a plan to decide on a number of calories I could increase to initially, that was a bit higher but not so high I’d freak out and feel the need to restrict or exercise after in response. She also said to eat very frequently so that I don’t get too hungry before I eat so that I can eat without feeling the urge to binge. I don’t know if feeling too full is a problem or if it is literally just that I let myself get too hungry beforehand so that the full feeling is now associated with the urge to binge for that reason.

I’ve been on 600 calories a day for three months so I have planned to increase this initially to 800 a day building to 1000 in the near future and to eat little and often rather than pushing myself to eat things that look like meals/eating a larger amount in one go in the evening for ‘dinner’. I’m finding this hard because 800 simultaneously feels like too much and too little/too limiting. It feels like a lot because it is 200 more than I’ve been on and I’m very aware of the increase. It feels too limiting because it is still objectively a very low amount of calories a day, I am still hungry all the time and I don’t want to feel like this any more – restricted all the time, watching the clock for when I am allowed to eat, etc. It’s my 30th birthday weekend and I want to be able to have some cake, damnit, but I’m acutely aware of the risks now of trying to run before I can walk. If I eat cake today, will it jeopardise my recovery? Possibly. I have a higher chance of success if I take baby steps and accept the limitations for now. It won’t be the perfect birthday weekend but if I play it this way, I’m more likely to be eating that cake sooner than later and without the repercussions of relapsing and self loathing.

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2 thoughts on “Impatience and a relapse

  1. ED are a hard habit to break (I was a compulsive overeater, so on the other end of the spectrum) and they are not rational – I had to keep reminding myself that the food will still be there even if I don’t eat it now, I’ll get another chance later on. So try to enjoy your birthday, and when you feel like a piece of cake is just a piece of cake (instead of the end of the world) then you can celebrate and enjoy it.
    The amazing thing is that you are at the point where you can see the sunlight again, and you should allow yourself to feel good about it even though you’ve got a lot of work ahead.

  2. I think the OT’s suggestion is a good way forward. Take control by planning a diet and combine it with a balanced exercise plan.
    Like everything, it’s unrealistic to think this will all fall into place overnight, so try not to feel discouraged and fearful.

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