I forget if I mentioned this or not, but one week ago, my uncle talked to me about my eating disorder.
I feel this extreme anxiety and panic thinking about how I feel like I have to check in with people. It was SO good for him to talk to me, but now it does me NO good to worry about what he thinks or worrying I have to check in with him (or with anyone).
When I feel pressured or rushed with recovery (I don’t even know what that word means sometimes but I don’t know what else to use), I get so panicked that I feel extreme depression and lose all appetite. I just want to curl into a ball and crawl into bed forever.
So why “technology helps”? Because I just decided to write my uncle an e-mail including my three goals, the plan, the complexity of my co-morbid mental illnesses, and explaining how checking in makes me anxious. And that is okay. If it makes me less anxious to just write an e-mail, who cares?!
I had a really good talk with my mom on Tuesday about not worrying what other people think. I think the one good thing about it was (besides getting out my anger):
I said: ” Mom, what do you want from me? What did you want or expect to happen when you confronted me and when we went to go see my therapist together that night?”
My mom said: “I want you to stop bingeing and purging and to get better.”
Me: “But the bingeing and purging is the thing we all agree on. That is my number one goal and I finally feel in control of it again. What does get better mean?”
[Side note: at this point I am afraid ‘get better’ means that my recovery will never be good enough or far enough along for them…and that they want me to gain 30 pounds to where I feel uncomfortable and can only really get by bingeing]
Mom: “It means that I want this not to have control of your life so much.”
Me: “Okay. Well these are my goals: 1) Continue to stop bingeing and purging, 2) gain 5 pounds, 3) continue setting up my treatment team and work on all the little things. Mom, I don’t know if I can EVER go beyond those three goals. But right now I can’t care. Because if I care or only think about that, I will never even achieve these little goals. And gaining 5 pounds, I will be 5 pounds better off, not b/p’ing, I will be that much better off.”
Mom: “That is okay with me. It is okay.”
I feel really proud of the first goal and my progress. I have only done it two times in the last 11 days, about 2-3x per week in November, one time the whole 16-day Thailand trip. That is a huge reduction from nearly every day all summer and Sept/first half October. I feel scared of it (not of it happening; scared of it in a good way, like not in denial that it won’t hurt me), can SEE again it’s mental and physical destruction, can SEE it’s impact on my anxiety and stomach. I can think beyond to afterwards and how much it will make things worse. Having tasted again life without it, I can see how much better I feel.
It just becomes a habit and I had to break the cycle. I feel in control of that part again.
I don’t know how to do #2, but I am thinking and working on how. And yet trying not to think too much and just relax and let it come. I think an important part is my growing motivation to try Cymbalta or another anti-depressant for my nerve pain and anxiety and see if that will help me feel like eating.
One thing that is comforting me…I keep remembering that EVERY TIME someone talks to me/confronts me, I go through a similar series of steps (hopefully with increasing motivation through time):
- Primary emotion = SHAME —>leads to secondary emotion of Defensive ANGER
- FEAR – they are afraid for me so I get afraid
- PANIC – that everyone is doing an intervention on me (like A&E style intervention – the show that gives me literal NIGHTMARES); that I will be rushed off to somewhere or forced to do something before I can even think; that they have taken away MY CHOICE, MY LIFE, MY VOICE; I feel very small and like a little kid
- Confusion – about what to do next; confused about what I want to work on, how to do it, everything
- Complete loss of appetite and continuing to feel small and worry, worry, worry
- Eventually (this is where I draw hope), I find my own voice again. I see how much good came out of their talking to me to wake me up even more. I choose to live for myself. This time I hope that means a lot of choices about getting better. But I can’t think beyond my three goals. And I have to let that be okay. Because if it’s not ok, I feel pressured and don’t want to do anything. And if it is okay, I will at least achieve those little goals, if nothing else.
Besides, those goals may seem little to others, but they aren’t little to me. They will take more hard work than I could ever describe!
So when I have been catching myself running through steps 1-5 above in my head, I have to stop and remember number 6. And I have to remember that conversation with my mom. And I have to remember what I said: that if I can’t get beyond these goals, that has to be okay, because if it’s not, I will never even try.