** Note: Remember how I said I will share my ED journey with you through the good, the bad, and the ugly made beautiful? Well, this would be one of those posts **
Ever feel like there’s a voice inside your head and you’re fighting against yourself? Sometimes
wonder if you’re going crazy? Or you feel like there’s another side of you living inside your head and you joke about having another personality? Admit it – we all do! I’m no different. But I found a little relief last week when the ‘personality all its own’ was confirmed. Now before you call the folks with the fancy white coats bear with me.
My relief came from my dietician. We were talking last week as we always do and I was sharing with her some observations I’ve had of my eating behavior…concerning observations that were a bit frustrating. She looked at my food log, got a wistful look on her face…okay, maybe a smirk…and asked one question. Just one question. That’s all it took. It was simply ‘what do you think your eating disorder would say about that?’ The answer was ‘creative restricting’. It had to do with stretching out my meal times ‘to see if I’m still hungry before I eat more.’ But that’s not what brought relief. Her question itself brought relief.
Imagine if you can life inside the head of an eating disordered person. We have to eat to live. And yet I don’t like to think about food – the one thing that is my lifeline to…well…life itself! At my worst when I was depressed back in the 90s I was down to 110 pounds. Probably should’ve been in treatment or the hospital but I wasn’t in eating disorder
counseling at the time. I am at a healthy weight and maintaining it but it doesn’t mean the challenge is any less. In fact within the first year of seeing my counselor my weight was down and she gave me one last chance to show her I could gain it back on my own or we were going to be talking some kind of treatment. So with the yo-yo history any time I find myself ‘creatively restricting’ my food it’s a red flag and could quickly lead to the slippery slope.
So here I am trying to rewire my brain from the misfires of the past. It’s a complicated process – much more so than I thought it would be. I’m already finding myself having passing thoughts of ‘good enough’ and ‘is this as good as it will get?’ Already see the dichotomy of thought? Try living with it every minute of every day for decades! This dietician journey is one of baby steps. In fact when I first started she commented she was intentionally not pushing hard because she figured if she did I would be out the door and maybe come back in a few months. And at that point she was probably right! So we had to start with simply setting a meal schedule for when to eat and work on just keeping to that. I’ve been one to constantly snack to curb the hunger – or load up on sugar snacks. And then there are those diabetic food exchanges to figure….how many servings of carbs, protein, and endurance fuels (fats) are in what I am eating for that meal and does it match my meal plan. Oh – and let’s not forget increasing when I eat to be a total of 3 meals and 3 snacks a day….in essence eating every 2-3
hours. That seemed like a mountain I couldn’t climb when I first started.
So that’s just to get STARTED on a meal plan! We haven’t even started talking about food yet….deciding what to eat, figuring how it will fit into my meal plan, and figuring out what I will use to fill a hole if I’m still in need of something – usually protein – to meet my meal plan for that particular meal or snack. It gets exhausting and I have been feeling that lately.
So when I shared with Kristen (dietician) my observation and she asked her simple question it validated the struggle. Suddenly the hell inside my head was given a life of its own. An escape hatch. A light of its own. And the pressure valve released a little. Suddenly the battle wasn’t only inside my head any more. The enemy was given a name and an identity and a personality all its own. It’s like I could take a step outside myself to get some perspective. It wasn’t
ME having those thoughts. It was the eating disorder! It is its own personality. SEPARATE entities!
As I thought about all this on the way home from the appointment I had to start looking at the spiritual side. Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) reads “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” For those of you not coming from a Christian mindset just please keep reading to at least try to understand what I am saying. This is NOT a case of ‘the devil made me do it.’ But it is a case of the spiritual war that exists. If the enemy of my soul, Satan, can get me distracted from thinking about God and living the way He wants me to live (taking care of my body for example) then Satan wins that battle against God because God loves His kids (including me) so anything Satan can do to get God’s kids to not be focused on Him makes Satan think he got a jab in on God. They’ve been at it from the start of time.
And up until now the enemy HAS been winning. I have not been thinking about honoring God through my body. I’ve been thinking about ‘how do I get this ‘right’?’ – an old issue for us ED folks. I don’t enjoy the food God has created. It’s a necessary evil in my mind and if I could do without it I would. My entire attitude is not one of thanksgiving but one of tolerance – and then only if necessary. There is still a
lot of anger attached to my eating. I resent having to eat, having to think about food, having to figure how it fits into the plan so I get it ‘right’, and I resent having to seek the help of a dietician and admit it’s worse than I like to let on. After all, I’m still tempted with thoughts of ‘it’s just odd eating patterns’ and not an eating disorder. And I hate eating in a group of people…to the point that the beloved retreat I go on is coming up in a couple weeks and I am discussing the menu and ‘coping strategies’ with my dietician this next week. It simply causes me stress and anxiety!
So with all that going on in the mind when she gave my ED its own personality the pressure cooker inside the brain released a bit. I don’t have the answers yet. I’m still trying to right a listing ship and we talked about that this week. Her pointed question to me was ‘why do you want to keep doing this?’ to which I simply answered ‘because if I don’t it will just go back to what it was before.’ So this week we’re focusing on getting back on track and doing what I’m supposed to be doing (fixing all my food at once, having a time frame in which to eat it all instead of stretching it out, and the new twist this week – not eating protein bars as part of breakfast so as to get my protein from another source…the bars are snacks only). See how it can mess with your mind and most certainly engrained patterns?! But it’s right. And necessary. Because my ED has its own personality. And it needs some work.