Friday, July 24, 2015

ED Status Update II

It has been about six months since my last ED-specific update, so I thought you were due some deets. In summary, there haven't been any drastic changes, just more of the same chugging along, hanging in there day in and day out, and coming up for air periodically to discover that I am getting further and further away from my anorexic self all the time.

Areas of note:

RigidityThe last time I updated about this in January, I was still writing down my intake and weighing myself semi-regularly; I had cut the ritualistic daily weighing, but was still checking in a few times per month and letting the number dictate my intake/mood/sanity. Sometime over the spring, completely without planning or preparation, I stopped writing down my daily calories and exercise - which is something I had been doing religiously for years. And around the same time, I stopped the weighing for good. My scale is sitting patiently collecting dust under my bathroom sink, and I haven't touched it. These two changes (no tallying calories and no weighing) have been HUGE for my recovery. It's not that I stopped counting calories; I still do, in my head. But I stopped physically writing down my intake and exercise each day and that alone has lifted this burden off my shoulders, loosened some leash I didn't even realize I had myself on, and allowed me to chill the f out in almost every way. I am still probably way more rigid than the average non-ED person (though part of that is just temperamental; I am pretty rigid and Type A in most areas of life, not just food) but there have been small yet monumental changes for me here - I am way more liberal with rounding my calories, I don't fret about what my weight will do day-to-day, and I am more willing to adjust my self-prescribed mealtimes for convenience/hunger whatever.

Ditching the scale and my daily weigh-ins has probably had the single biggest positive impact on my ED recovery in years, after sort of stalling out for a while and settling for "healthy enough." I can't believe I didn't take this step sooner.

Things to work on: Loosen up further on calories, and eventually quit counting altogether while relying more on hunger cues.

Body Image: This is the one where I have probably made the most progress. I can genuinely say that I do not hate how my body looks right now, and most of the time I am basically, genuinely fine with it. Just six months or a year ago I was falling apart emotionally on a regular basis over how "fat" and "disgusting" I looked; haven't had any such meltdowns in a long time. But more than that, I can just tell that my mindset around the whole issue has totally shifted. It's hard to describe, and it's not necessarily that I don't want to be skinnier anymore (I usually do still wish I were skinnier). It's more that I have accepted that can't/won't ever be as skinny as I want. And instead of that realization being completely devastating, it almost feels like a relief. I'm not built like a waif. I'm just not. And I think for the first time in my life, I have stopped fighting that. I no longer have this vague idea in the back of my head that I'll get there someday. I know I won't.

Another aspect is that as I've moved past this desire to be thinner thinner thinner no matter what, I've become more interested in being strong and fit and healthy. Part of this has been me rationalizing the fact that I can't run all the time anymore without injuring myself/causing other health problems, so I've started to embrace other, non-cardio types of exercise—mainly strength training—but also just in general, I am starting to see the benefits/appeal of forms of activity that aren't necessarily calorie-torchers. For one, I have gunz for the first time in my life since I started lifting a few months ago and actually stuck with it this time. I gotta say, lifting weights (lifting real weights, not pink 2 lb dumbbells) has changed my body more in six months than years and years of running ever did. Suddenly I can see muscles in my arms that were never visible before, and for the first time in maybe ever I am actually happy about a change to my body that did not involve losing weight.

Which brings me to...

Exercise: So this area is a mixed bag for me. Yes I have made some progress, but I also struggle mightily with the exercise compulsion, probably more so than anything else ED-related right now. It's ironic actually, because being healthier and eating better has almost fueled a tendency toward excessive exercise over the past couple of years. I no longer feel as though my sole reason for working out is to burn calories and lose weight; it's more this sense of feeling healthy and alive and wanting to capitalize on all the things I couldn't do when I was sick/malnourished/in pain etc. To an extent, I definitely still feel like I have to "earn" my food, but less militantly than before. I like the idea of working out hard/fueling myself appropriately. In theory. I probably still undereat a tad for how much exercise I get, and I probably still work out a little more compulsively than I should, but the underlying mindset is healthier than it used to be, if that makes sense. I want to feel strong and athletic, not necessarily skinny, and it feels much more wholesome than it ever did before.

At the risk of making this sound rosier than it really is, I still require myself to get a certain amount of cardio per day whether through running, biking, swimming, hiking, etc. and it is still really really really hard for me to take days off. When I hurt my foot and couldn't run, I switched to swimming pretty excessively and killed my shoulders. So then I switched to biking a ton and hurt my knee. And now here I am with a sore foot, sore shoulders, and sore knees, and I am still scheming ways to get a workout in. So, clearly not out of the woods yet on the exercise piece.

Things to work on: Taking days off, listening to my body, not working out while injured, and figuring out how to eat normally even when I don't burn a ton of calories.

In conclusion:
All things considered I'm doing pretty okay. The ED doesn't dictate every aspect of my life in the same torturous way it once did, but it still dictates quite a bit. I still have a nervous habit of adding up my calories over and over again in my head throughout the day, even when I know what the tally will be. I still would love love love to lose 20 pounds. I still care about all this stuff way too much. But I'm doing better.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Routines and Restaurants

It's a bit humbling to realize how much breaking my food routines still challenges me these days. In the past week I've eaten out three times and have another dinner out planned for this Friday, plus a happy hour on Thursday and a birthday party Saturday night. I felt really icky all day yesterday, sort of fat but mostly just gross and I couldn't decide if it was pure ED-ness or just the natural consequence of too much Mexican food and wine over the weekend. Mexican is probably the hardest cuisine for me, in that it's really hard to find "safe" foods at Mexican restaurants, and I ate at TWO different ones within a 24-hour period (Saturday dinner and Sunday lunch). So it was hard on the mind in terms of feeling overindulgent and trying to keep track of calories, but also probably a tad hard on the stomach if ya know what I mean. And all of yesterday I just felt icky and gurgly and off.

Then tonight a friend and I got Thai food; Thai is way easier than Mexican, and this restaurant is an old favorite with probably just about the safest menu around for me. But for some reason the thought of going out again, eating not my own food again, having to pretend to be normal while picking through a plate of rice was all just a teensy bit overwhelming.

I am planning to write a big juicy ED update again pretty soon, but for the time being I'm thinking a lot about what it actually means for me to feel "gross" or "off" like this after eating out; I don't necessarily feel fat, or think I'm fat, or worry about getting fat from eating out. It's something about not having complete control over the dish and not knowing exactly (or close to exactly) how many calories are in it that still makes my skin crawl. Something about not sticking to my safe, boring, pre-planned menu. It's part physical, part mental. Probably mostly mental, duh, but restaurant meals do tend to be heavier and more oily or something, and they stick with you.

I used to love eating out when I was younger, and I definitely enjoy it more now than when I was in the thick of my eating disorder. But it still causes way more angst than I care to admit.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Post PT Friday Shenanigans

Now as you all know, my life is currently AS BORING AS BORING CAN BE because (A) I'm crippled (hi boot!) and (B) It's the dead of summer, I'm between grad programs, and everyone I've ever known has fled the state, it seems (bye friends!). So my main sources of excitement these days are the following:

- Trashy TV show of choice - The Bachelorette, duh. Kaitlyn is so freaking cool, I want to be her bestie and take boxing lessons and stroll the streets of Dublin and have cocktail parties with JUST US. All the guys kind of suck this season, unfortunately; none of them are remotely as cool as her. I used to like Nick when he was on Andi's season, but now he seems kind of sleazy. And Shawn is a lil bitch who needs to get his butt kicked. No one else is much better or even very interesting. Kupah had my attention for a while because his name was Kupah (SUPAH KUPAH!), but then he turned out to be a huge dick. Cupcake was adorable but then this happened and I don't know, call me old-fashioned and rigid in my gendered views but C'MON CUPCAKE, PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER. Oh and remember Clint and JJ? That is all.

Anorexia recovery win of the week - I bought butter. Like, a little tub of butter from the grocery store. I keep it in my fridge and put it on things and then I eat them - baked sweet potatoes, toast, eggs, etc. This may be the first time in my adult life I have ever actually bought butter. I am not joking. Non-ED readers may not grasp the magnitude of this.

Random life hack - I have (re)discovered kneading out the knots in my back and shoulders with a tennis ball against the wall. Pure ecstasy.

- Favorite hangout spot - I love love love Barnes and Noble (used to love Borders too, #tearsfordays) and while I usually just go to hang out, drink coffee, and do work or read trashy magazines, I also spend some time browsing because books=life. But periodically I come across something completely baffling, like this:

If you can't read the subtitle, let me help ya out: "THE LEFT'S PLAN TO TURN OUR COUNTRY INTO A THIRD WORLD HELLHOLE." Lol. This is a real book. Like, someone actually paid her money for writing this. Seriously, I could not make this shit up.

- Boot update: my orthopedist gave me the green light to start tapering out of it; I now probably only wear it about 25% of the time or so, usually if my foot is really sore and I want to give it a break. My sexy physical therapist and I were chatting about it today and he said there is a sort of tipping point at which wearing the boot will start doing more harm than good because the injured foot/leg whatever just gets weaker and stiffer while the other one tries to pick up the slack, so the risk for additional injury starts to outweigh the risk of worsening the original injury. He doesn't think I can do much damage to my bruised/neuroma-ed foot anymore by walking/weight-bearing (I might aggravate it and set myself back, but I'm not really going to do serious or lasting damage) so it would be better to start strengthening it rather than letting it get more stiff and weak. Or something like that. I honestly can't remember; I got lost in his eyes.

- Semi-serious mental health update - doing much better. Don't feel like delving into the dark, scary, icky stuff. I saw Dr. P yesterday (we do every other week now) and since I was feeling better and I hate having hard conversations, my inclination was to not even mention the horrible anxiety and pretend everything was peachy. BUT I was brave and told her about it, and we were able to talk through a lot of the insanity happening in my brain, and I feel a lot better. <3 my therapist, you all should meet her and have therapy with her. Even if you aren't crazy.

Weekend plans include working at the food bank, dinner/drinks with a friend from undergrad and some of his law school friends tomorrow night (NEW PEOPLE?!?!? MAKE THAT DRINK A STIFF ONE) and then lunch and a movie with another friend on Sunday. Somewhere in there I need to finish a paper for my advisor but technically he's out of the country, so...ya know.

Happy Friday, everyone.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Frustrations, Limitations, and Fear

I spent about 24 hours out of my mind with anxiety, and then thanks to time passing and some tears on the phone with Mama Bear and a lovely reader who spent literally HOURS chatting with me about books, movies, TV, life, etc. (thanks C), it eased up and now I'm basically back to baseline, though a little shaken.

This seems to be the pattern now. Most of the time I am basically very stable, not perfectly happy and content and ecstatic to be alive, but basically fine. Then every couple months something triggers a brief episode of very nearly debilitating depression and/or anxiety, and I'm a wreck for X days/weeks. So far they've always resolved themselves, and I'm still here. But every time, a little bit of my identity/self-confidence/sense of security gets chipped away. And I come out out of it a little less me than before.

I think I have been underestimating how traumatizing all of my health problems have been. Not the basic eating disorder health problems; the aftermath. The stuff no one talks about; chronic infections, IBS, dry eye, nerve damage, pain. The stuff that had me chasing my tail for over two years searching for solutions to problems no one had ever heard of.

I survived it all. I have been, dare I say, thriving. I have not been underweight since 2013. Essentially pain-free for close to two years. I am stronger, physically and mentally, than I have been in a long time. But I've gotten cocky. And defiant. I want to be invincible now. I want to go all out and not worry about getting sick or hurt or fatigued. I want to run marathons and swim the English Channel and climb mountains and deadlift 400 pounds. I don't want to take days off. I want to skip dinner sometimes and be fine. "Moderation" is not in my vocabulary.

And I don't necessarily want it to be. It's not just an ED thing; it's being twenty-something and not wanting to waste a minute. It's not even really about losing weight anymore, it's just about feeling alive and healthy and totally free.

Before I hurt my foot I had been running hard, adding in sprints, and walking several miles per day. When the boot made that impossible, I adapted. I started off swimming thirty minutes twice a week and biking thirty minutes twice a week. Within a few weeks the volume doubled, and the days off disappeared. No surprise I started getting shoulder pain and back pain, the old nerve pain spiked, and my period was two weeks late last month.

And so, in typically fashion, I fell apart. If I can't go all out, I don't even want to show up. What's the point?

I don't know how many more tries it'll take. How many more times I'll have to humble myself. To discover I'm not invincible, I can't go all out, I can't be as carefree as I'd like.

I know that I am prone to anxiety. Not just in the "I have an anxiety disorder" way, but in a very constitutional, personality-driven, this-is-just-how-my-brain works way. I have always been like this (though it hasn't always been debilitating, of course). But periodically it knocks me flat on my back and I become very nearly non-functional. I can't imagine going back to be being sick and in pain all the time. But I also can't imagine going the rest of my life being afraid.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

All Aboard the Anxiety Express

My anxiety is randomly outta control right now. Like, this minute. I've had a decent weekend so far, saw some friends last night and today, had a good time, but got home tonight and am suddenly freaking out like none other about:

- food

- exercise

- weight

- health

- foot injury

- nerve pain

Mostly the nerve pain. I've got in my head that swimming will exacerbate it, or maybe that it will aggravate my foot, or maybe it will make me fat, or maybe I-don't-even-know. Don't know what happened, but I've got that sick, sinking feeling in my gut that hits when the anxiety has me totally snowed under and nothing feels manageable.

These are the moments when I worry that I'll be like this the rest of my life, and I don't know if I can handle that. Or if I want to.

Ugh I'm sorry. I think I know where this is coming from but I'm not okay or rational enough to write about it right now. More tomorrow.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Bits and Pieces

Three weeks until Mama Bear and I head out on our (postponed) vacation. Four weeks until my fellowship starts and I can quit my job. Five weeks until orientation. Six weeks until school starts (that's 19th grade, for anyone keeping track). Five years until I am a real grown-up with a real grown-up job. START THE COUNTDOWN. Ugh I am so over my job, and honestly getting to the point where I completely dread heading into the office. It just puts a total damper on my whole week. Yet I keep going (I am part-time and make my own hours) because the thought of not having at least that small bit of structure to my days seems unmanageable. Otherwise I tend to arrange my days around working out and eating. Not exactly the most fulfilling existence but, onward and upward. Refer to timeline above.

I saw the orthopedist yesterday. She pulled up my MRI and pointed out the hot spot - there's bruising and swelling at the head of the third metatarsal bone (that's the bone bruise), and also in the space between the third and fourth bones (that's the neuroma). To be honest I didn't really know what I was looking at; it just seemed like fuzzy white and dark spots to me. Now I am in the boot for another week (maybe two) and after that will try putting these metatarsal pad thingies in my shoes just behind the balls of my feet - they are supposed to redistribute the weight or something, so all the stress isn't going to that hot spot anymore. Stay tuned. If it doesn't feel better in the next week or so, she will have me follow up with a foot and ankle specialist for a cortisone injection or something else. Luckily no one mentioned surgery so I am assuming that's not on the table...

In unrelated news: I got called bitch twice yesterday. Two strangers, two separate incidents. The first time caught me totally off guard so I just gaped like a loser. The second time, I slowed my car to a crawl, rolled down my window, and flipped that fucker off. Sure I might get myself shot someday, but damn it felt good.* I am all for like love thy  neighbor and random acts of kindness but you know what? I think everyone benefits from periodically letting out a big fat FUCK YOU. Try it sometime.

And finally: you're welcome.

*High road? What's the high road? Can I catch it off 66?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Update on the Tootsies, and Other Thoughts

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. It was not rainy for once in College City, which made life significantly more pleasant than it could have been. Last night I drove out to my aunt and uncle's house—they own a ton of land out in the boonies about fifty miles west of the city—to eat tons of down home Midwestern cookin' (think: pork steaks, potato salad, corn on the cob, strawberry shortcake), sit around a bonfire, and set off Roman candles in the backyard. Quick q: WTF are pork steaks? We were nomming away on what I thought was just a regular old steak when my aunt described it as a "chicken fried pork steak" and I was like HOLD THE PHONE WHAT SPECIES AM I EATING RIGHT NOW? I am from the Northeast and we do not consume such things.

I am still bummin' a bit about my foot. Yes, I am still in the boot—coming up on the four-week mark and no, it is no more fun now than it was four weeks ago. I spoke to the doctor again today; apparently in addition to the bone bruise on the third metatarsal, there is also an inflamed nerve between the toes (google neuroma, I don't know enough about it to describe) that can, according to my sexy physical therapist, be either fixed with conservative measures like cortisone shots and metatarsal pads or with surgery, depending on how big and bad it is. YOU GUYS DON'T LET THEM CUT ME OPEN. Oh and also my other foot is totally killing me in the same spot which I am fifty percent sure is me being paranoid and insane, but ouch it still hurts so now I'm icing it. I have an appointment with the orthopedist on Wednesday which will hopefully make me less crazy.

Anyway, I will also be interested to talk with her (I've been going through the nurse on the phone) because while Morton's neuroma is basically the first thing that pops up when you google "SHOOTING PAIN IN THE BALL OF MY FOOT FROM RUNNING," it doesn't really seem to fit my symptoms, which definitely feel more bone-y rather than nerve-y, if you know what I mean. Maybe the bone bruise is masking that stinging/tingling/zapping nerve-type pain that you would expect, I don't really know. Anyway. My diagnosis has now changed three times so I am looking forward to actually having a face-to-face with the doc.

How 'bout that women's world cup final, right?!?! Apologies to any Japanese readers. But ugh I hate Hope Solo so much because she sounds sleazy and awful and mean and is a big bully and I wish she sucked at being a goalie so I could scorn her for that too. Anyway, other than that GO USA! You guys think it's too late to start my own soccer career? Actually I did have a soccer career once upon a time, but I only made the 'B team' in middle school and then I only made JV in high school so I quit and started running, and now I have a bone bruise and a neuroma, so we all see how well that turned out.

Um. That paragraph contained a lot. Moving on. Did I mention my physical therapist is a hottie? I did my makeup before going to my appointment this afternoon. Not even ashamed. Today while I was struggling to balance on this wobbly board thing he came over and HELD MY HAND. There were fireworks. I know he's engaged and all but you guys, no joke, this was undeniable. Oh and then as I was leaving he said—and I quote—'I want to see you again this week.' ................I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!?!

All righty, now that everyone has gotten a comprehensive look into (A) my foot, (B) my brief but dazzling soccer career, and (C) my love life, I am gonna wrap up this train wreck of a post. Very best wishes to all. Send me lots of anti-bruise/neuroma vibes, and I will try to survive another booted week.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bruised, Not Broken (or, sort of broken....?)

Thanks everyone for being so nice the other day. I am feeling way better than when I wrote my last post—a combo of mood fluctuations, change of pace with the work week starting up again, lovely chat with Mama Bear, hanging out with a good friend yesterday (which reminded me that just because I don't go out and get rip-roaring drunk three nights a week like I did in college does not mean I have no friends...), a great swim (who knew swimming would become a somewhat enjoyable form of stress-relief for this die-hard runner?), and SUNSHINE.

Injury updates: I got an MRI last night - what a strange experience. I had to lay facedown with giant headphones on while they blasted music that was so loud it hurt my ears, but somehow still sounded fuzzy over the noise of the MRI machine. My right foot was taped down and weighted with sandbags inside the coil to keep it from moving. My arms were tucked under me, which was comfortable for the first three minutes but then they promptly fell asleep. The whole thing took about forty-five minutes, though I spent over two hours at the hospital because...I don't know why. Everything took forever. #inefficiency

Anyway, the nurse called with the results today: bone bruise. (Is it just me or does "bone bruise" make anyone else cringe even more than "stress fracture"?) AKA by my understanding it's sort of like a type of fracture, but different from a typical stress fracture? I think? If I understood right? Mostly when the doctor was explaining it over the phone I wasn't paying attention, just busy moping about spending MORE TIME in this dang boot. Because she gave me that dreaded, vague, platitude: "These things take time." It has been just over three weeks now of me hobbling around in this thing(and five weeks since the injury first happened), and I'm maybe marginally improved but not really. And ugh I know I need to be patient, but the boot—while less devastating/impossible than I had feared—is still hella annoying. I was hoping to feel better enough to get around a bit this weekend, since College City has lots of fun July 4th festivities, but I'll survive, I suppose. One of my besties is planning to bring her dog down to hang, so that should make it all worth it.

At PT we have sort of been in a holding pattern while waiting to see what the verdict was—didn't want to jump right into all the hardcore foot-strengthening stuff if that would just aggravate it, but still wanting to make progress in terms of shoring up the rest of me that will hopefully take some of the stress off the metatarsals. He has also starting zapping my foot with a TENS unit; I don't know if it does a whole lot in terms of healing, but it sure feels awesome.

So that's that, sorry there's not much flashy happening in my life beyond bruised bones and foot-zapping. Oh and I got stuck in an insane storm last night leaving the hospital: torrential rain (as in, you couldn't see A THING), quarter-sized hail, flooding on nearly every street, trees and branches down everywhere, and I even saw a stone streetlight ripped out of the concrete sidewalk and lying on its side. Crazy. It took me over an hour to get five miles home—but mostly because Samuel and I spent twenty minutes hiding out under an overpass with about ten other cars. Naturally I called my mother and made her stay on the line while I freaked out.

That is all! Sorry for randomness! Happy Fourth, everyone!