Friday, October 11, 2013

Short Post, Random Updates

Whoopsies, another week got away from me. Hope everyone is doing fantastically. College City is having some uncharacteristically lovely weather (e.g. it is neither 95 degrees with 95% humidity, nor is it 20 degrees with a layer of ice coating the streets, nor is it raining) which definitely has a positive effect on my mood.

Tonight, I am heading out to see one of my best friends from college - dinner with her family, watching a baseball game, playing with her puppy, etc. I realized when we made the plans that I still got pretty worked up about anticipating the food her credit, my friend knows I have Issues and asked if I had any preferences, but I couldn't really think of what to say. So basically I just said "No! I'm fine! I eat anything! Yay food!" or something like that. Still feeling a little anxious, but also happy to be seeing her and breaking out of my boring food routine. I try to motivate myself in these situations by reminding myself how healthy variety is, and that my usual diet is SO unvaried that any change is good.

I wrote sometime last week about how my sleep habits were totally out of whack. It was becoming a major issue, so I finally caved and bought some Tylenol PM - it's a miracle for my insomnia, which has been a problem on and off for as long as I can remember. Anyways, I've slept like a baby (drugged) the past two nights, and as usual I'm reluctant to stop taking the sleep aid because it always takes several nights of tossing and turning to get back to normal. Any ideas for sleep problems?

And finally:  here's a kind of interesting article, although I'm not really sure how I feel about the way EDs are presented: Fat and Thin Find Common Ground. I have zero experience with binge eating or bulimia, so it's hard for me to say how much they have in common with anorexia, and whether or not all eating disorders are just simply different forms of the same beast. I am interested to hear any thoughts.

Happy Friday!


  1. I had resisted reading that Times piece until now because I knew it would make me angry, but I finally read it and ARGH.

    "Still, despite differences in physical characteristics and symptoms, those suffering from an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia and those with obesity have 'shared psychological components, commonalities and underpinnings,' said Dr. Scott Kahan. ... 'Low self esteem is extremely common in both, as is body dissatisfaction. They are both very much environmentally driven. Both place excessive emphasis on appearance and body size. In the same way, many of the same psychological underpinnings play into both."

    Where is the evidence for this? For any of it? For anorexia, in fact, the bulk of the evidence indicates that the disease is not "environmentally driven," but mostly genetically driven with environmental influences that can vary considerably. And it seems to me that body dissatisfaction in people with eating disorders and people with obesity can't be at all similar except on the most superficial level. I wouldn't say that either is worse or causes more suffering, but it's ridiculous to equate the pathological cognitive distortions of someone with AN, who may be underweight but unable to see it or normal-weight but convinced that she's fat, with the unfortunate but understandable reaction of an obese person to a cultural atmosphere that's hostile to the (actual) shape of her body. (This is not to deny that people who are overweight or obese can have severe, full-fledged EDs, including anorexia. I'm talking about obese people who don't have EDs, as is Kahan in that quote.)

    “'But I think it’s been a real relief for the anorexics to see someone who is overweight and have them realize, ‘They’re just a person, it’s nothing to be afraid of.’"

    Seriously?! Ugh, this attitude is actually hurtful to me. I can't believe that this psychologist (?) doesn't understand that fear of fatness in anorexia is fundamentally irrational and self-focused (for me and for most sufferers, as far as I know), not some kind of bias against people who are overweight.

    “'The extreme presence in our society of unhealthy, highly processed foods are a problem for both of these camps. Some people respond by eating too much, and others respond by extreme control so it becomes an eating disorder.'"

    This guy used to be at my school, and pretty much everything I've heard him say about EDs has rubbed me the wrong way. Again, where is the evidence for this claim? Anorexia has been around for centuries at least, and the prevalence is constant in every area of the world where it's been studied. So, a reaction to highly processed foods? Sure, okay.

    Okay, time for some deep breaths! Sorry for ranting all over your blog comments. This stuff just makes me so angry, and it's hard not to take it personally when someone who has no idea what EDs are really like tries to guess how you think and feel, and why.

    Your plans with your friend sound like fun. I hope you have a great time! Re: food stuff, you're absolutely right that variety is good, and for me breaking out of my routine is often easier when I'm with other people and just going with the flow. It's so great that you can experience these worries and acknowledge them, but decide to go ahead with your plans anyway. A real sign of recovery, I think!

    1. I couldn't have said this better myself. Back when I was around 11 and first started restricting, I lived on Quaker granola bars and Wheat Thins for a yeah, not buying the processed food theory. As for the "environmentally driven" part, I completely agree with you as well. Obviously we live in a weight/diet obsessed culture and I'm sure that some of the body image stuff and that "hyper-healthy, clean eating" mindset is probably affected by external forces, but there is something so visceral and biological about starving. I firmly believe that I would have developed anorexia even if I'd never watched a minute of television or opened a single magazine during my childhood.

      Additionally, I'm sorry if this article was triggering or whatever and yes, it makes my blood boil too to hear other people talk about EDs when they have no idea. thanks for the thoughtful comment as always.

  2. Glad you've been taking advantage of the nice weather! Hope tonight has gone well! I'm really proud of you for being brave and challenging the unknown about what you'll be eating. It's also great that you recognize the need for variety, not only in the actual foods, but also in the mental side of it as well. Good for you! I hope you have (or had) a great time!

    As far as the sleep habits, I can definitely understand your trepidation about going off the Tylenol PM, but I'm sure you also know that's not necessarily a long-term solution. Have you talked to your Psychiatrist (Dr. L?) about this? She might be able to work with you on some meds that could be a safer, more long-term option for you, and especially if she can work with all your meds together on that. Just a suggestion!

    Re: the article--I feel like it's an interesting topic to explore, but I, like E, didn't feel terribly comfortable with how he came across. It seemed to be lacking scientific evidence and was more anecdotal than anything else. But thanks for sharing; it's always interesting to see what kinds of perspectives are out there!

    1. Hey Alie - I really should talk about the sleep issues with my psych, although I've always been reluctant to consider other drugs for some reason. Will see how the next few months go until my next appt and then maybe I'll bring it up with her. But yeah, the OTC stuff is not a good long term option. I also know that I have terrible "sleep hygiene" habits - e.g. I often stay on my computer even after turning out the lights, I eat/drink shortly before going to bed, I always have the windows open = lots of outside noise, etc. So, I probably need to work on simpler options before calling myself an incurable insomniac!

  3. Sleep hygiene. For real. It is annoying as anything but it helps. For me that often means reading off my kindle [non-backlit!] instead of my computer late at night, which is also probably not ideal but it's a start. And not studying in bed/in my bedroom, exercising in the morning instead of at night. But the sleeping meds have been helpful for me as a restart, but to sustain the sleeping at night thing I had to work on behavioral things. Also, broke down and got a bright lamp for use in the morning/afternoons when I can, and try to get sunlight as soon as I can in the morning. And in a totally non-accusatory way-- when I'm undereating, even by a bit, even unintentionally-- I find I have trouble sleeping before I notice I'm hungry. Good luck & hope you had fun with your friend.

    1. ugh I had a feeling that was the case. I've always been a bad sleeper so I don't know why I think I can spend hours staring at a bright computer screen and then just roll over and nod off - should probably work on that.

      And YES re the under-eating....I didn't put it together until now, thanks!! will post on this soon