Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year End Reflections

Thanks for the thoughtful comments on my last post; I've got more to say on the subject but not enough time or brainpower at the moment. So for now, I just want to wish everyone a very happy New Year's Eve. I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that another whole year is gone. It's true what they say—the older you get, the faster the years fly by. I guess I'm not OLD-old, but still! You guys! Twenty-three is getting up there. It's almost twenty-four, which is almost my quarter-life crisis. Which basically means it's all downhill from here, right?

Okay but for real—tt was a rough year in a lot of ways, but it's also been a wonderful year. My pain is incredibly and blissfully manageable. Not true at this time last year. Or two years ago. I don't really believe in God, but every day I thank some higher spiritual power (and Dr. A) for making that happen. I am happy more often than not. For the first time in a LONG time, I am actually excited about the future; anyone who has suffered from depression knows how amazing and rare that feeling can be.

Still some nagging issues, like the aforementioned food/exercise stuff and some non-ED-related anxiety, but overall I am pretty content with the way things are going. This year took me from a really dark place to a much brighter place, and I am totally psyched for what 2014 may bring.

Happy New Year's and much love to you all.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Looking Back and Taking Inventory

Ugh I KNOW, I'm the WORST. Sorry for no blogging about anything remotely interesting. I'm still home, still being lazy and spoiled, still reading excessively, still navigating this whole food-and-exercise-outside-my-comfort-zone-and-with-parental-supervision thing, but doing okay and feeling pretty good.

I came across some old photographs on my dad's camera from this trip almost two years ago. Back then, I weighed double digits less than I do now and at the time, was positively mortified by how fat I looked. In fact, that trip (ahem food poisoning) was the tipping point that sent me from semi-subclinical-restricting to full-on Sorry Everyone I'm Done With this Shit, Not Gonna Eat. I lost an additional XX after that trip, which nearly got my butt stuck in inpatient by May. Looking back, I can't believe how nuts I was.

Anyway. Did I have a point? I guess what I meant to say was, my body image now is a hundred million times better than it was back then, even though my weight is much higher. I just feel healthier and nourished and satisfied. I struggle with snacks when I'm home and my days always tend to be bottom-heavy (eating more late in the day as opposed to spreading calories out evenly throughout the day....CAN SOMEONE EXPLAIN TO ME WHY THE HECK I DO THIS???) but overall I am doing very well with getting in enough calories.

I've been thinking a lot about how I got here. "Here" meaning my current status of having a relatively okay body image at a perfectly healthy weight, being okay with eating a healthy amount of calories, eating cookies and white bread and cheese and candy and all that without freaking out, and not thinking about food every second of the day. I don't see a dietitian anymore, and never found them very helpful anyway, but it feels like I've gotten myself to a place—through cobbling together various sources of knowledge and inspiration, through trying and messing up and trying again, through experimenting with different ingredients and combinations—where I feel like my diet is pretty solidly healthy and robust and I am okay with eating the way I do. My weight has been rock-solid for almost six months now and my periods come every thirty days like clockwork, so it seems pretty clear that things are falling into place. I didn't get here by accident, but by a lot of research and experimentation, trial-and-error, and obsessing.

Obviously there are still snags. I still count calories. I still weigh myself. I stil run pretty compulsively. I still base my intake more on caloric content rather than hunger or preference, although I am getting better at that. And I'm hopeful that time will help.

It's hard to imagine that the person in those old vacation photos was still fully entrenched in an eating disorder. I was also still stuck in treatment three times a week, between my therapist and dietitian. Even just a year ago, I was still getting formal ED treatment and came home each Wednesday afternoon with an updated meal plan and those stupid dietary worksheets. Maybe I'm just a freak, but I've never been successful in treatment. Recovery has only clicked for me when I made the decision for myself, committed myself, and never looked back. I know this probably sounds kind of snotty and ungrateful, but I really feel like the months and years of therapy didn't really do squat for my anorexia. I'm sure the process took much longer than it needed to—and obviously I'm not totally done yet— because I flat-out refused to engage with my team 90 percent of the time, but the only thing that has kept me moving forward has been my own internal motivation. Largely inspired by my physical health problems, but still primarily from within. No one makes me eat, you know?

I've still got a lot to work on, but my head is in the right place. And up until about a year ago, my head was in a totally awful place regarding the eating disorder, and no amount of therapy would have pulled me out. I'm not bashing therapy because I know that it is a crucial piece of the puzzle in ED treatment and I absolutely ADORE my current therapist....but for me, for the anorexia, it just never seemed to click. Can't decide if that's depressing or empowering. Maybe a little of both.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to pop in and wish everyone a big Merry Christmas! Hope you all are having a happy and beautiful holiday.


I am absolutely loving the time at home with my family: eating my mom's delicious food, playing Scrabble with my dad, and hanging out with my big brother—who is, as far as I'm concerned, the hands-down coolest person on the planet.

Our sink is full of dirty dishes and our living room is a disaster zone of wrapping paper and boxes, but none of us really mind. My dad and I went for a long walk with his camera a couple of hours ago, taking pictures of the sunset and newly fallen snow.

Presents aren't a hugely important part of the holiday anymore now that my brother and I are older, although I did get a beautiful pair of boots and, best of all, a $100 Amazon gift card which will be spent on books and more books. Since getting home last Friday, I've been averaging about a book a day:

The Racketeer by John Grisham
The Good Soldiers by David Finkel
Thank You For Your Service by David Finkel
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt


I am in book heaven. The Goldfinch is pretty long and might keep me occupied a bit longer, but my wish list is still a mile long. Hard to express the joys of not having deadlines looming over my head.

Anyways. Merry Christmas and much love to you all.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pseudo-Vacation and a Calorie-Burning Crisis

Well, my relaxing post-finals week turned out to be less delightfully boring than I had anticipated. I've been working a lot, plus my research advisor has me working on this HUGE project that is taking much longer than we thought...and I am killing myself to finish it before I leave town tomorrow. So I've spent the past four days running back and forth between the two campuses trying to put in hours at each job. Then I've gone out with friends each of the past three nights, so I usually get home around 10 or 11 totally wiped, and collapse on the couch. The dishes are piling up in my sink, I am running out of clean clothes, I haven't even thought about packing...and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to save my Christmas shopping/reuniting with a college friend for tonight, when my plane leaves early tomorrow morning. Poor planning, on my part. But it's all good stuff and overall, I am very happy with the way things are going. I do need to get some sleep, though.

I am still struggling a little with the running. Instead of cutting back on my mileage like I was planning, I actually somehow upped it again. Still scratching my head on how that even happened. Last week we had a bunch of snow and my usual trails were impassable, so I had to alter my route, ended up getting lost, and extending my usual distance. Since then, I've been stuck at the new longer distance. On the plus side, I AM doing better with upping my calories (even on the days I don't run), but the running has turned into this semi-consuming force that is starting to feel outside my control. Part of the problem is that I am simply in better shape now, so I CAN run much farther without wanting to die. Over the summer and early fall, my overexercising abilities were limited by my lack of conditioning after having gone over a year with no cardio; now, it often feels like I could run all day if I wanted to. And sometimes, I want to.

I love that I am able to run. I love that the pain has dwindled down to a whisper most of the time. I love that I am feeling happy after being so miserable for so long. But in all honesty, I also love that running burns a million calories, and I love that I'm not actually embracing the spirit of recovery because I'm still counting and tallying everything I eat. I'm doing well, but sometimes I worry that I'm not doing as well as I think I am. And I'm scared that I'm going to mess it all up. I know that you guys must be totally sick of hearing me complain about something that is so clearly within my control...but I've had the eating disorder for much longer than I've been recovering from it, and some of these irrational tendencies are simply second-nature.

My goals for my 10 days at home are (1) back off on the running - which should be a little easier, because Home City has a lot more hills than College City, so running is a LOT more tiring there, and (2) loosening up on the food stuff. This should also be a little easier given that I won't be preparing my own meals and there is always a ton of food at my house around the holidays. Maybe I'll even try to give up counting while I'm there! We'll see. No promises.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Kicking Off Vacation the Literary Way

Ahh, the joys of vacation. I am SO relaxed. Well, that's relative, I suppose, because I am incredibly uptight, rigid, and anxious to begin with so my "relaxed" state is probably pretty wound up for a normal  person. But still! The relief of not having a million papers due in the next 60 seconds is like heaven.

After all the festivities last week, I had a superbly quiet weekend. I spent Sunday running, cleaning my apartment, folding laundry, napping, talking on the phone with an old friend, and READING. You guys, my reading is actually out of control. I'm on my third book since Thursday. Now that I have my Kindle, I'm a total snob and don't go to the public library anymore and just buy all my books "with 1 click!" on Amazon, so this is getting to be kind of expensive. Maybe I'll ask for for cashmoney for my Book Fund for Christmas.

Books of the week:
—A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout—This was riveting and heartbreaking and tough to read, but I couldn't put it down. Amanda was a twenty-something cocktail waitress/budding journalist with a serious case of wanderlust who got kidnapped by Islamic extremist thugs in Somalia. She and her traveling partner survived over a year in captivity, which included all of the horrible things you can probably imagine. Although marketed as a memoir, the book has a co-author listed...which is probably why it's so well-written! Not that I really care who wrote it, because the story is so powerful.

—Sycamore Row by John Grisham—Another from my favorite lawyer-turned-legal-thriller-factory. Gosh, this guy is prolific. Fine with me! Like most of his others, this one wasn't particularly life-changing, but it was a perfectly competent page-turner.
—The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer—Gotta admit, this one only made the cut because it has been on a bunch of "Must-Reads of 2013" lists and such. I am about halfway done and I'm not IN LOVE with it, but it's fine. The writing is good, but kind of wordy. It's just so novelly, if that makes sense. I wish she were a little more straightforward and a little less "I'm a writer, WATCH ME WORK."


All right, duty (aka my book, dinner, sitting on my couch, drinking hot chocolate, and playing Words with Frieds) calls. Peace, everyone.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Finishing the Semester, Being a Nerd, and Accepting Invitations

Well, I'm done with finals so hopefully my neglectful blogger ways are over for a while. I handed in my last paper yesterday and am officially DONE with my first semester of graduate school. Thank goodness. It has been kind of a crazy week, between finishing up all my final papers and presentations, holiday parties, work, etc. but thankfully things should calm down a little. I am staying in College City for one more week to work and catch up on some research stuff. I spent about five hours in my advisor's office yesterday working with some new data (I needed his computer) and then trying to figure out how to work this new software that he had downloaded but didn't yet know how to use...and I was probably not the best person to ask for help with this nerdy tech task, but I did my best! Google was no help, believe it or not.

Aside from all the school stuff, it was an oddly packed and stressful week. A bunch of unexpected social-ish things popped up, to both of which my immediate reaction was NO I CAN'T GO but I actually ended up going to both. One was dinner at the apartment of a PhD student who does research in the same area as me—she invited me, a few other students, and our advisors. After brainstorming ways to get out of it, I realized that I am DONE letting food paranoia control my social life. So I hurried up and accepted/promised to bring a dessert before second-guessing myself. And, you know what? I had a great time. Last night was the office holiday party; the professor who runs the research center where I work is married to another professor at the school, so they host a huge party every December for all the staff and affiliated faculty and students at their house. I brought a friend from undergrad because I was shy about going alone, and we had a lot of fun mingling (but mostly hanging out by ourselves/the little kids). Then this afternoon, one of my friends texted saying she and a couple others were going to have an earlyish happy hour, and did I want to join? I even had my decline text typed out when I abruptly changed my mind. So I went.

It's hard to figure out why my mind automatically screams NO whenever invites come. Part of it is the food thing, and I guess part is just the spontaneity of it; I am not spontaneous, and I hate being put on the spot. Especially when food is involved. Anyway, more and more I've been feeling like part of having a full life is pushing myself and getting out and meeting people and having fun, even when it feels safer to stay home and eat my typical x, y, or z.

For now I'm looking forward to four weeks of no class and no urgent responsibilities (other than studying for the GRE...more on that in a minute). One of the first things I did this morning was download a new book to my Kindle and start reading. Many more to come, hopefully.

So I signed up to take the GRE at the end of January. Doesn't seem like much time, now that I mention it. I didn't need it to get into my master's program but I will need for PhD programs if/when I decide to apply, so I was told to do it sooner rather than later and just get the damn thing over with. I bought a review book today and have been frantically relearning middle school math. Study tips welcome.

Okey doke, laundry is calling. For all my waxing poetic about the beauty of socializing etc., I am SO looking forward to a quiet night at home. Take care, everyone.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Final Week Fun Facts

Sometimes I write things I've already done on my to-do list, just so I can cross them off.

I am obsessive about my electric bill and have been trying to avoid using the heat in my apartment...it's been a losing battle this week. When did it get so cold??

I went on a crocheting rampage over the summer, and now I can finally wear the 12 scarves I made! (I don't know how to make anything else.)

I did indeed see the Hunger Games on Friday. JLaw is such a badass. Kinda makes me want to take up archery.


I bite my nails when I'm stressed.

Painting them doesn't help.

My reading list for winter break is a mile long. I am SO excited to actually have free time again.

Although I did just read a great book: Wheelmen by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell. It's about the whole Lance Armstrong doping scandal - a really good read! It reads like a thriller; I couldn't put it down.


I can't read about the upcoming Newtown shooting anniversary without crying.

Yesterday, I spent four hours interviewing high school kids for my university's admissions office. Maybe it's just been a while, but gosh I was impressed. There are some smart kids out there! Unfortunately I don't get a say in the actual admissions process, but I would've let them all in.

I am about to submit a 30-page paper on health care reform. Ask me anything about the ACA, I dare you.

Anyone have any good music recommendations? I'm in need of some new tunes.

I am realizing that these aren't really facts so much as musings. Clearly I've been staring at my computer for too long. Hope everyone has a nice Sunday night, stay warm.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The End is in Sight

Slowly making my way through the final weeks of the semester...I am about halfway through (two papers and one presentation to go) and am feeling surprisingly unstressed. Hopefully, my classes in the spring will be a smidge more enlightening. I've been pretty bored/unchallenged by the material so far, and am counting on things perking up a bit next semester.

I had a great talk with my advisor today while spending THREE hours in his office working on our paper. He had some interesting things to say about me, my program, and where I should go from here. I've been feeling pretty stressed about getting perfect grades and researching and publishing and doing everything right so that I have a shot at getting into the best doctoral programs, but he helped me put things in perspective a little more. Sometimes I need to take a step back and remind myself that I don't have to have the rest of my life planned out by 23. Although it would be nice.

I am in another total food rut with dinners. YOU GUYS. I HATE COOKING. I just can't do it. I wish I were a sophisticated foodie/Whole Foods shopper with advanced knowledge of squash and kale and steel cut oats and quinoa and other such wholesome things. Aside the fact that Whole Foods is categorically out of my budget and that squash makes me gag, it would be nice to be someone who gets excited about cooking and can get creative in the kitchen. I'm sick of everything I eat, but have no desire/inclination/capacity to think of doing things any differently. They say some people with EDs get obsessed with food, but for me it feels like the opposite; these days, food bores me to tears. If anyone has some spare time and would like a side job as a personal chef, hit me up. As for compensation....let's call it an unpaid internship.

Maybe slightly ironic transition: one of my bffs and I are going to see the new Hunger Games movie tonight. Shut up! I'm excited! I think Jennifer Lawrence is awesome. And Liam Hemsworth is adorable, minus Miley.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Review

Well, November wasn't a great posting month for me, apparently! Time has just been getting away from me these past few weeks. I am busier than I have been in a LONG time—maybe ever. Thankfully after this upcoming week, things should slow down a bit. I have three papers due and a presentation next week, then BIG papers due the following Monday and Friday, and then I think I'm done. I am also somehow supposed to be putting in 60 hours of work at my two jobs between now and then... Anyone else feeling like the 24-hour day just isn't cutting it anymore? Also, does anyone have any get-rich-fast tips that might alleviate the need for those aforementioned two jobs?? I am very much looking forward to next semester when I can cut my schedule down to four classes instead of five.

I just got back to College City a few hours ago after a lovely few days at home. Aside from a Turkey Trot on Thursday morning and an outing with some old high school friends on Friday, my vacation was primarily split between family time and homework. It was just the four of us (mom, dad, brother, me) for Thanksgiving dinner, which was fine by me. I love quiet, cozy holidays.  Plus, I think I might be at the point where I'm able to actually enjoy food a bit rather than stress about it. My mom cooked up a storm and we had an awesome array: turkey (obviously), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, curried cauliflower, carrots, cranberry chutney, rolls, and pumpkin AND apple pie (although the apple was only for my dad's benefit—he's picky).


I got a Food Talk from my mom yesterday, which was kind of weird. It's been a while. I feel like I've been eating pretty well, and my weight is the highest it's been in several years. I think she noticed that I'm running a lot more these days, and is freaked out that I'm going to set myself back healthwise—basically the same fear I've been having myself. Six months ago, I would've sworn to give up all exercise in a heartbeat if it meant the pain would get better; now that the pain is actually starting to get better, I've WAY upped my exercise and I'm reluctant to even think about cutting back. Even though I know that only terrible things will come from me falling back into those old compulsions, it's so hard to logic myself out of it. It's also weird because I'm doing well with food, so it sort of seems like I've started swapping one compulsion (restricting) for another (running). At least it's not both at once like it used to be, right? Like, I'm okay with increasing my calories and eating poptarts and pumpkin pie and all that, but can still only really justify it because I'm working out. Ugh, I want these thoughts out of my head.

Okay, off to work on some of these papers and get psyched for the insane week ahead. Hope everyone had a great holiday, take care.