Sunday, March 23, 2014

Between A Rock and A Hard Place

Thanks everyone for all the kind words on my last post. I am having kind of a rough few days worrying and obsessing and figuring out how to proceed from here. This is the first time since last fall, when things really improved for me physically, that I've been seriously concerned about the nerve pain coming back. I don't know if it's just on my mind because of my conversation with Dr. P about excessive exercise and my brain decided to panic about it, but it feels like the pain has been a tad worse the past few days. The timing is sort of suspect in terms of lining up perfectly with my increased anxiety, so it's entirely possible that this is my mind playing tricks on me, but still. I'm worried.

It's so hard to describe the conflict going on in my head right now. I am scared beyond scared about shooting myself in the foot by ignoring all the signs, all my history, and everything I've learned over the past two years by continuing to overdo the running and undereating and exacerbating the nerve pain condition again, especially since the capsaicin cream was a pretty late-line agent that finally worked. At the same time, I am scared beyond scared of gaining any more weight. I know this is an old, boring, stupid fear. I KNOW. But apparently the anorexic thinking is alive and well. And, in all honesty, I should not have to gain any more weight to be healthy. My weight is very solidly in the "healthy" range, and is the highest weight I've ever been. So I'm totally freaked about going up any more, which keeps me running obsessively, but I'm also freaked that the running is going to undo all the progress I've made with my health.

Contemplating changes to my exercise routine has me obsessing about weight stuff way more than usual. I know that every anorexic probably claims this, but I think I have a pretty slow metabolism. Or maybe I've slowed it down with all the abuse, or maybe I'm just getting old, because at my first go-around in recovery I was eating substantially more than I do now and maintained a weight double-digits less than my current weight. So clearly, my current routine with all the running is not actually doing me any favors with my weight. Plus, despite my stable weight, my period has been slowly disappearing over the past few months, which is always a bad sign. All of this indicates that the running probably doing more harm than good. But I haven't found anything else that comes close to managing my anxiety to the degree that running does. So I feel stuck.

Part of me is convinced that I need to give up every intuition I have and (1) cut way down on the running, and (2) up my calories because clearly, my body and brain cannot handle being on the edge like this. But I'm scared, and stuck, and I feel like there are no good or easy options—only an array of hard ones.

UPDATE: Ugh. I have been panicky and teary all day. I need to get this under control.

I cannot do this again.


  1. Dude. Be careful. You will rue this moment of clarity sooo intensely if you continue down this path, and look back to here six months from now. The other worthwhile thing to consider-- just because not eating/over-running is making things bad//has the potential to make things much worse doesn't mean you'll always just be able to stop doing those things whenever you want and feel better. Because duh, compulsions don't work that way, and unfortunately, neither do bodies. You may not be able to untangle the damage.
    And I say this not to freak you out or sound judgy or anything-- but this might be a time when you want to consider more intensive/structured help.

    IOP & the like work best when you KNOW you should be eating better/exercising less and you're not terribly far gone but you just cannot stop the cycle/spiraling on your own. For me it's worked when I'm aware that I'm messing up but just couldn't get myself to take it seriously/take action/think it was that bad etc. Until I started crying over 2% milk at IOP dinner, because normal healthy everything is fine 20 somethings cry over milk all the time.

    I guess my point is-- whatever it takes to move forwards instead of backwards here is SO 100% worth it. Treatment isn't just about swoooping in when you can't possibly function, because by that time you've obvs lost the ability to function, done real damage to yourself, wasted more of your life sick etc.

    Not trying to push, just something to think about. Whatever you can do in your life to make this easier, do it. Cutting back on work hours, seeing Dr P more, whatever support you can pull together will pay dividends later.

  2. I completely agree with JS. Continuing down this path will ensure the return of all the painful and obsessive anorexic thoughts around the clock, but will also bring the pain and eye problems back. And maybe this time they won't be reversible. I think you need to do the two things you mention: cut way back on exercise and up your intake. Also, this might be the perfect time to stop getting on the scale and let Dr. P handle that. I know that's scary, but I think listening to your body is more important here than constantly checking the number on the scale. That seems to be the biggest obstacle in your way right now, and it's one that can be removed by handing over your scale. I also know the exercise helps with your anxiety, but I suspect that the increase in running and decrease in food actually brings on more anxiety, so it seems to be a vicious circle.

    I would really encourage you to get some major accountability with Dr. P, friends, etc. Anyone, everyone you trust. As you said, you don't want to relapse, and this is really a tipping point. That feeling of helplessness to stop the behaviors, but knowing you have to stop them--it'll only get worse if you don't take major action to prevent relapse.

    Let me know if there's anything I can do! Sending good, healing thoughts your way!

  3. Hey - I just want to give you this piece of concrete information based on watching the interaction between weight and behavior for all of my clients with EDs over the past 2 years AND from my own ED history..... it is MOST LIKELY that, if you cut way back or STOP exercising, your weight will NOT go up. I know it makes no sense logically. I know, I know. But SO MANY people with exercise compulsion stop exercising only to see NO CHANGE in their weight. And sometimes, people's weight actually goes down. I have never once seen someone with an ED stop exercising and then gain weight as a result (and it's not b/c they start restricting even more to compensate for the lack of exercise). Cammy has experienced this strange phenomenon as well and she's written about it.

    So - what if you were to stop exercising and your weight DID NOT go up? Wouldn't that be pretty cool to find out! Maybe you can play the "what if" came in your head but do it with a positive spin - as in "what if I stop exercising and my weight doesn't increase?" I would literally bet all my money that that would happen, b/c I've seen this happen in myself, in Cammy, and in so many clients. I would take a risk and just try - don't exercise for a week (or a few days), and see... just watch, your body won't react the way the ED fears it will.

    One main reason I see people gain weight in a way that feels out of control and in a way in which they don't understand... besides medication.... is honestly when their body / chemistry / metabolism maybe gets out of whack and they keep doing more and more and more cardio while undereating - it tends to lead to weight gain in lots of people and it is maddening. To not gain weight while exercising, you have to either eat a shit ton more OR you have to stop the exercise. It's counter-intuitive, I know, but I'm really being serious...

  4. Oh! and I also second the iop or php option as something that you should hold in your head as a POSSIBILITY.