Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Recovery is easy when life is good

And not so easy when it's not.  Or that's how it seems to be for me recently.  I've finally made my way past the every-meal-is-a-struggle part of my recovery, at least for now.  When life is chugging along I do well.  I feed myself snacks, I don't measure everything, I cook with oil, etc.  But when I'm faced with unexpected challenges I still struggle.  A lot.

I went camping with the boyfriend and some friends this past weekend.  Life was good, even though it rained and our tent got all damp and humid inside and the water went out in the campground.  I ate deliciously burnt marshmallows, snacked on tons of trail mix, and drank beer without trying to get drunk (I still have issues with figuring that if I'm drinking empty calories I should have a goal like getting drunk but that's another post).  I hardly thought about calories all weekend.

Then I got home and my beloved cat that I adopted in college and has been with me through all the moves and ups and downs of the eating disorder slipped out the back door.  She disappeared under the house but we managed to chase her out of there and almost got her.  She managed to dodge though and get through the fence to the front of the house and vanish.  She didn't come back for dinner last night or breakfast this morning despite repeated tapping of her food bowl outside.  It's been almost 24 hours.  She's smart and tagged and microchipped but I live on a busy street and she's only been outside a few times ever.  And never at this house.  To say I'm upset is an understatement.  In fact, I'm tearing up again as I write this.  Everyone keeps assuring me that she'll be back but they don't know for sure.  No one can promise me that nothing bad will happen to her.

I can't help but beat myself up over it.  (Not too surprising considering my last entry.)  "This is all your fault.  You left the door open.  You should have been more careful.  You can't do anything right."  And as sometimes happens when I'm upset or stressed my appetite has vanished.  I know I should be forcing myself to eat, and I did last night, but I'm so sad.  I don't handle strong emotions well.  Not eating numbs things.  I don't have the energy to feel bad.

So yeah.  I'm struggling a lot today.  This makes it pretty clear that I still have a lot of work to do in this recovery thing.  When things get rough restricting needs to not be my go-to response.  In the long run it will just make things worse.  I know this and yet I still haven't managed to eat today.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I was reminded this morning about how rampant my perfectionism is.  At my work you can get into the stairwell without your card key but since there are companies on the other floors besides our two, you need your card key to get out.  Great set-up, right?  As I have done once or twice in the past I went in there and then realized I was locked in.

Instead of doing what any sane person would do, which is when they heard people on the other side pound on the door until someone rescued them, I waited in that stairwell.  I waited until someone came in and I could pretend I was on my way out, just standing there in my gloves and lab coat with my melting samples.  Of course I mentally tortured myself at the same time with things like "Why are you so stupid?" and "How hard is this to remember?"  I mean, I had to pass the time somehow, right?

I can't even simply forget something without deciding that this is an example of my worth as a person.  And then, god forbid, I definitely can't let anyone know that I'm not perfect.  Other people can forget something and I wouldn't think any less of them but I'm convinced that everyone else will hate me and laugh behind my back if they knew I screwed something up.  It's just so ridiculous.  And so much energy goes into this.  I even found myself saying later when my stomach was rumbling for lunch, "You're such an idiot, you don't deserve it."

What if I could use all the brain power and effort that goes into trying to be perfect for something else?  Unfortunately, I've never quite figured out how to turn that switch off in my brain.  There is a never-ending litany of "Don't screw up, don't screw up.  Stupid, stupid, stupid."  And in some ways it has been helpful in my life.  I've done really well academically and professionally because I have this drive to be perfect.  But at the end of the day is that really worth my sanity?  I don't know.

By the way, if anyone's interested I stood in that stairwell for 45 minutes.  Sigh.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I've been doing really well with the snacks.  I haven't missed a day, even when I had something heavy for lunch like pizza.  But I'm trying to listen to my body and eat my snack when I'm hungry, not at a set time.  So today I had it early and felt mostly okay with that.  I'm a bit nervous that now I'll be hungry before dinner but we'll see.  I know, if I'm hungry again have another snack, right?  If only it was that simple in my head!

The annoying thing is that I feel like all I do at work now is eat.  Seriously, I just ate my snack and I felt like I'd barely even finished lunch.  And it seems like I'm cramming an insane amount of food into my bag in the mornings.  I just stare it wondering if I really need to eat all this but the answer is yes.  The nighttime sugar binges have stopped and I feel less destroyed when I get off the train.  Of course I've also had these crazy night sweats but I'm not sure if that's related since it's not like I added in that many calories.  It could also be my cat's newfound love of sleeping draped over me at night.  If it is related I'm sure it'll even back out.

Of course I do like that I'm working on this now, when I only have a couple months left at this job.  And then I'll completely throw off my schedule being unemployed.  But at least I'll have gotten into good eating habits that hopefully will carry over into my next job.

In other news we had a big party on Sunday (20+ people over for most of the day) and I was reminded of how much I hate crowds after a while and value my space.  After about 7 hours I escaped upstairs to my bedroom on the guise of comforting my cats who were cowering under the bed.  I climbed under an afghan and would have stayed there until everyone left but my boyfriend begged for my help to kick everyone out.  I just get overwhelmed eventually.  It's too much noise and too many people doing things like throwing their trash into my recycling bin.  (Seriously?  In California you see a can filled with bottles and cardboard and you throw garbage in there? Really?)  I have to try really hard to not trail behind people straightening the picture frames they move and the more people who are in a conversation the harder it gets for me to chime in.  What can I say?  I'm a little neurotic sometimes.

But it's good for me to have these exposures.  If it wasn't for the boyfriend I would lock myself in the house alone most of the time, after working by myself all day at my job.  But he likes to be social.  Very social.  Last year when I was visiting my best friend in Chicago my boyfriend at home was busier with plans than I was on vacation.  I have made some wonderful friends though through him and every time I see that nothing terrible happens from all these people being in my house I think I relax a little more.  I'll never be someone to seek out plans for the most part but I'd be really bored if I never did anything.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This ends...

I'm not going to screw around with the recovery hell I went through.  Writing here yesterday helped me to put things into perspective.  I've worked too hard to deal with this again.  I went home yesterday and talked to my boyfriend.  I explained that I've been slipping a little and asked him to check in with me in the mornings before work and not let me out the door without a snack.  So this is day 1.

I brought some bread and almond butter and I'm going to eat it.  There was some minor freaking out this morning since it just seemed like a ton of food I was packing.  I broke out the measuring cups and calculator for packing my lunch, which I haven't done in a while, but I think that's probably normal.  Once I get used to having this snack and see that I'm not gaining weight I think I'll chill about lunch again.  Hopefully.  I'll worry about that later.

Now I need to figure out some good snacks that require very little preparation and don't need to be refrigerated.  I think if I have to walk across the building to get my snack and take time to put it together I won't bother.  But if I have something quick and easy that has enough protein and carbs to keep me full and feeling better before dinner I think I'll stick with it.

I'm expecting the anxiety and all but I've been through this before.  It's only temporary.  Wish me luck!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Deciding factors

I'm sorry about being MIA for a while here.  I've been crazy busy with moving stuff and family/friend things.  And if I'm being honest I've been struggling a bit with eating stuff and I'm embarrassed to admit it.  Not just on here, but to my boyfriend or my mom.

I've been skimping on my lunches, which is really bad and so ridiculous because I know better.  I never did add back in that afternoon snack and since I've hated breakfast forever (I do always have some fruit), lunch needs to be enough to get me through the work day.  I've been feeling terrible on my commutes home and I know why.  Weekends are better since it's much less structured and somehow that gives me permission to eat when I want and pick things with a lot more freedom.  And I've been working on some of the food obsessions (like using big forks!) but that doesn't really matter if I'm not actually eating enough.  I just keep thinking, "Well, I'm going to have a big dinner and dessert when I get home.  Why should I eat now?"  The problem is that even if I'm making the calories up it's not necessarily in healthy foods and that every time I let myself get so hungry I feel frantic I'm feeding the ED thoughts and behaviors.

I know eating more will feel bad in the short term and I'm terrified I'll gain weight if I eat more at work.  But by not doing it I'm letting down everyone who cares about me.

I had a timely conversation with my mom this weekend though.  We don't talk much about the past ED stuff.  I know it's hard for her to think about the worst of it.  But somehow it came up and my mom asked if I still felt like she ruined my life by stepping in and making me get treatment.  I just kind of looked at her and asked if I said that.  As I explained to her, my memories of those worst couple years are sketchy at best.  Malnutrition will do that I guess.  She said it was probably a good thing and that she wished she didn't remember it either.

Then she asked if I remembered her telling me I was going to die.  She says we were sitting in the office at their house and I was poking at my hands like they were fat.  I'm sure I was.  I was pretty proud of my bony fingers.  And she says she felt like the worst mother in the world because she told me I was going to die and I started to cry.  I don't remember that either but I'm sure I needed to hear it then and I needed to hear it again now.

This is not how I want to live my life, having friends and family worried about my health and not remembering the good times.  In fact, I refuse to live this way.  I don't know what I'm going to do but something has to change here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Food obsessiveness

This is a post I've been promising and meaning to write for a while.  I've been doing pretty well food-wise recently (minus last week's freak-out that is safely behind me) so I haven't wanted to jinx it by focusing on the negative but I think it's important for me to be realistic about where I am.  While I'm doing great with eating consistently and (more importantly) not having panic attacks about the eating, I still have some issues I need to work on.

The biggest thing is what I've deemed "food obsessiveness".  I'm sure there's a better name out there but this one makes sense to me.  I've always had some obsessive compulsive tendencies and these days I see them mostly connected to food and eating.

Here are some examples:
1.  When I eat a salad that has a lot of things in it I put aside some of each thing so that my last bite will have everything in it.

2.  I also freak out about the amount of dressing left on the bowl or plate.

3.  I will eat 3 month old cottage cheese that got left in the back of the fridge, rather than waste food.  Even when food is clearly bad like the lettuce I forgot about that turned to mush I have to leave it the fridge for ages before I can throw it away.

4.  That's very rare because I almost always know exactly what's in each cupboard and on each shelf of the fridge.  I can tell my boyfriend where things are without looking and rarely have those grocery store moments where you can't remember if you're out of something.

5.  I'm almost never out of anything because as soon as I open something new, I replace it.  I worry a lot about running out.

6.  When I eat at home I never use big forks.  Small forks feel safe.

7.  I stress out when I use a dish or Tupperware container that is too big for the amount of food.

8.  I pick at the boyfriend's food when I'm finished with my own.  Food feels safer when it's on someone else's plate.

9.  When making something where the measurements don't matter much, like soup, I still measure out the exact amount of carrots if I'm using half a bag so that the next batch has the same amount.  I even count out things like tater tots so that each meal is the same.

10.  I look at the calories on everything, even if I'm going to eat it no matter what the calories are and even if I looked at the calories on that exact box yesterday.

Have I convinced you I'm crazy yet?  I have a bunch of other examples but I guess this pretty much covers it.

I think I've always been obsessive about food to some extent.  I remember as a kid asking my mom if we could have a meal I enjoyed again in the future while I was still eating it.  But, unsurprisingly, this ramped up while my anorexia was at it's worst.  Some of it had to do with eating so few calories that I know my brain was obsessed with getting every single one.  Hence things like licking my salad bowl.  And I think the rest came from thinking about food every moment of the day.  It's hard to not get obsessed when you're doing that.

But these days I eat all the time.  And yet I still have these issues.  Maybe our bodies remember the crazy starvation too well?  I don't know what it is but it's frustrating.  I'm working on it.  Some of these things are easier to change physically.  For example I can force myself to pick up a big fork.  It sucks and it's stressful but once I'm eating it's not so bad.  And maybe if I do it enough times it will get easier.  On the other hand how do I not know what's in my fridge?  That kind of thing is harder.

Am I the only one who suffers from these issues?  Please tell me no, I'm feeling just a little bit insane.  And how do I get past them?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bad Morning

I've been fighting off some sort of cold that's not bad enough for me to stay home from work but means my throat is killing me and I'm so thirsty I can't stand to be separated from my water bottle for more than 10 minutes.  Not to mention the tiredness.  Blah.  I'm trying to take care of myself but I've noticed that when I'm not feeling great the ED thoughts tend to creep in more.

This morning I put on a shirt and a cardigan I wear all the time and feel fine in.  Except this morning all I could see was how fat my stomach looked in the top.  I stood in front of the mirror for 5 minutes poking my flesh and getting more and more upset.  When I finally made it downstairs the boyfriend could tell I was unhappy and tried to make me feel better.  I don't know how it's possible for me to believe that he finds me attractive and that he doesn't see fat when he looks at me and also believe that yes, I am fat, but it is.

Anyhow, there's nothing like tears in the morning right?

The bottom line though is that it doesn't matter.  I can't be anorexic and live the life I want.  If that means I'm stuck being fat then it sucks but I'm just going to have to get over it.  If I have to pick between being skinny and having this life (living with my boyfriend, moving to North Carolina, doing science, having kids someday) I pick this life.  I'm still upset but this is more important.  And I packed myself a lunch even though I wanted desperately to skip it.  Go me, I guess.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Interesting question

How do we define recovery from anorexia?

The part that struck me most in this article was "whether a person can be considered "in recovery" from anorexia if she is able to stay at a normal weight and function well ... but is still obsessed with calorie-counting and weighing herself daily. How well do you have to be to be better?"

I sometimes wonder if people think I'm just hanging on to calling myself eating disordered because it's a comfortable label.  After all, I'm a healthy weight, I don't weigh myself daily, and I normally don't obsess over every bite of food.  But I think recovery means something different to every person.  Some people might be where I am and consider themselves recovered.  For me though, I remember a time before the extreme fat phobia and crazy body hatred.  I don't feel like I can call myself recovered while I still struggle with these things regularly.

I'd be really interested to hear anyone else's take on how to define recovery. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Another victory

I went to an Italian place with my brother for dinner last night.  I ordered fettuccine with pesto and tons of veggies and grilled tofu.  It was delicious but huge.  I ate about half of it, looked at what was left, and asked myself if I was still hungry.  My body said one more bite so I ate that and got the rest to go, totally satisfied.  I don't know if I'll ever manage this intuitive eating thing entirely.  I just have so much history with binging and starving and I really can't not eat, even if I'm not hungry.  But every now and then I manage to actually listen to my body and it feels so good.  Now I just have to work on making those moments more frequent.

And as if that wasn't good enough, I was in the lab this morning and my mind was wandering.  I realized that that was the same Italian place I went with the boyfriend on our first date, about 3 years ago.  That night I ordered a side salad, no dressing.  Look how far I've come!  I knew I wanted pasta so I didn't even think to look at the salads.  I want to tell random people on the street, "I eat food now!  And sometimes I don't even feel guilty about it!"  I won't because that'd be a little weird but it feels awesome.

At the risk of sounding completely corny, it's moments like this that makes all the shit I've gone through not seem quite so bad.

Now I have a 3 day weekend to look forward to, filled with Passover with my parents, Easter with the boyfriend's family, and Monday to relax.  (I figured not having had a day off since January I deserved it, plus I have a moving company coming to give us an estimate.  For some strange reason the boyfriend refuses to drive a Uhaul across the country...  At least it means I won't be trapped in a car alone with the cats for 5 days.)

Better get back to work now, sorry for the short entry.  I want to do a longer one soon about some of the food issues I still struggle with so keep an eye out for that.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Moving on up!

Eeep, sorry for the long time no post thing!  I have been swallowed alive first by deciding where we're moving and then by actual moving information.  Yes, it is still 3 and 1/2 months away but what can I say?  After so long with nothing to focus on or plan (and I am a champion planner) it's awesome to have something to direct my energy to.  Does that mean I know where we're going?  Yep, I do...

August 1st I will be moving to North Carolina!

Besides the year I lived in Scotland I have been a California girl my whole life.  I went 10 hours away from home for college but I was still in the state.  So it's scary to think about leaving friends and family and the life we've built here but this will be good I think.  We will be throwing all our belongings in a moving van, loading up the car, and driving ourselves and the cats almost 3,000 miles.  I'm already a little scared thinking about 5 days in a car with drive-through as our only option since it will be the middle of summer and we can't leave the cats but I'm trying not to think about that.  Luckily there are so many other things to think about it's not too hard so far.

I have multiple google documents already with moving company info, lists of when things need to get done, and links to helpful sites.  I'll be job hunting and apartment searching as it gets closer.  So all in all it's exciting.  I'm worried and happy and just overwhelmed all at once.  Guess that describes a lot of life, huh?

Anyhow, food's been okay.  I've actually been having some binge/emotional eating issues, particularly after dinner but hopefully having some more information about this moving thing will help since that was a huge stress for me.  Hair pulling has been meh.  Not so good.  Sigh.  Need to focus on that more.

A couple other random things:

My male coworker, last week.  "If I got fat that would ruin my life.  It would be the worst thing."  Just lovely.

But I did have a nice conversation with a friend yesterday.  She mentioned something about how I was way too skinny in an old picture.  I agreed and said, "That's what happens when you only eat 500 calories a day."  She frowned and asked if that was on purpose, saying "Some days I think my calorie intake doesn't get much higher than that but it's because I just find it annoying to cook and eating is boring."  I explained to her at that point in my life I was convinced and afraid if I ate one bite over 500 calories that I would get fat.  And not only was fat bad but that would also mean I wasn't perfect and I would ruin my life and no none would ever love me and the world would end.  So yes, it was "on purpose", I guess.

Honestly, I don't think she has a very good grasp of calories and I'm pretty sure she never eats that little but some people are just very nonchalant about food and eating.  I used to wish I was that way but not only can I not afford to be for my health but I'm also glad I'm not now.  This works for my friend but I like enjoying food.  (Well, most days at least.)  I like savoring that first delicious bite of a really good dessert.  I like that I like to cook and am slowly getting better at it.  I like enjoying a yummy meal out with friends.  I don't hate food and now, if someone offered me a pill for all my daily nutrition, meaning I'd never have to eat again, I don't think I'd take it.

Now that is progress.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Recovery in a food/weight/exercise crazy world

I went into the kitchen at work to grab my lunch yesterday and the first thing I heard from a coworker was "I can't eat that, I'm doing a cleanse!"  I resisted the urge to shove my fingers in my ears, grabbed my food, and ran.  And people wonder why I eat lunch at my desk every day. 

I respect people's right to talk about whatever they want over lunch, I really do, but when it's always the calories in their meal or how they're getting fat or how long they're going to the gym for after work, I just can't handle it.  My brain chimes in mentally with "you can work out for longer than that" or "you should do a cleanse too".  It's hard because I don't know what other people see when they look at me but I worry that it's a chubby, out of shape girl.  And I want to show them I can fast more, work out longer, or lose weight better than them.  I worry people think I'm lazy for not going to the gym on my lunch break or fat for eating a piece of candy.  It's enough to make me want to stand on a chair and announce what a victory for me these things are, despite the fact that in our culture they look bad. 

I do wish I didn't look for external validation that recovery is a good thing.  But even after all this time recovery still feels so wrong and unintuitive sometimes.  I need to be reminded that what I'm doing is right and good for me.  That's why it was so hard a couple months ago when I told my mom that I bought regular ice cream and she brushed it off like it was nothing.

It's also frustrating when I'm constantly telling myself that recovery is good and then things happen like friends talking about their food intake for a day consisting of Thai iced tea.  This happened last week with my friend "Emma" again.  I get it, I don't look sick.  And I guess (if my coworkers are any example) this is what people talk about.  But she knows I was anorexic.  Anyhow, I finally told her she can't tell me these things.  When she asked why not I explained that my brain will turn it into a competition.  I don't know if that was the right thing to say or if it'll get through to her but hopefully. 

I told my boyfriend about it later and he sighed, "She's an idiot.  Want me to talk to her?"  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have someone who's so supportive of me.  When I need that validation that recovery is the right thing all I have to do is ask.  He'd tell me every day how proud he is of me that I make healthy choices and take care of myself if I needed him to.  I don't know what I'd do without him.

I think this issue of recovering in a culture that supports food and weight loss and exercise obsession is something anyone who's tackled ED recovery has dealt with.  In particular it's really other people's conversations that get to me the most.  I don't feel at all qualified to offer advice since I still struggle but I thought it might be helpful (mostly to remind me!) if I laid out the best ways I've found to deal with it.  So here goes.

1.  Tell people the truth.  Eating disorders are so taboo, it's ridiculous.  I've been known to, when someone recommends a diet to me, say "That sounds nice but I used to be anorexic.  I have to be really careful about restrictive eating plans."  I've gotten everything from silence to total understanding in response but I always feel better.

2.  Walk away.  I don't feel comfortable telling some people, like my coworkers, my history.  In that case I just leave.  If someone's actually talking to me I might smile and make an excuse but I get out of the situation.  I find my brain starts to chill as soon as I'm not actively hearing the conversation.

3.  Have a good support system.  Ask friends or your signifigant other to watch out for scary food/etc. talk and change the subject if it happens.  Generally I have trouble doing that myself since I find that kind of conversation like looking at a car crash.  I know I shouldn't keep listening but I can't stop. So someone else doing it is a relief.

4.  Remind yourself why recovery is good.  When I find myself still thinking about other people's gym hours days later I mentally go back to the reasons why I don't overexercise anymore.  I think about how much happier I am now and how much that time sucked.

5. Criticize other people.  It sounds bad but hear me out.  When all else fails I'll think about things like how badly my coworker who talks about her skipped meals is messing up her metabolism and will probably get fat later because of it.  Is that actually true?  I have no idea but it does make me feel better about what I'm doing and helps keep me on the straight and narrow.  In the end I think whatever keeps me in recovery is a good thing.

Any other tips out there?  I'm sure there are some better ones than mine and I'm always on the look-out for new ways to make recovery easier.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Weekend recap, real women, and more random links

This weekend was really good.  We had a barbeque on Friday with some friends, hung out with a visiting Russian girl (a friend of the friends of friends of friends who we met in Moscow), and got to see some advance episodes of HBO's new series "Game of Thrones".  (It was fantastic.  More on that in a bit!)  Unfortunately in the middle of it on Saturday night I got really violently ill for no reason.  As in sweating and nausea and moaning "kill me now."  I know it wasn't something I ate, I hadn't eaten anything in 24 hours that the boyfriend hadn't and he was fine.  Very weird.  I threw up for 3 hours (sorry, TMI) and then I felt fine.  I had a piece of dry toast before bed and by morning felt almost back to normal.  Bizarre. 

I'll admit, in the middle of being miserable I thought, "Well, at least I might lose a few pounds."  Last time I had a stomach bug 5 years ago I dropped 6 pounds overnight.  And I was disappointed when Sunday morning my stomach didn't look any flatter and my pants weren't any baggier.  Probably has to do with all the water I drank to not get dehydrated and it's actually good.  I don't need to lose weight, plus it's not like that would actually be fat or anything but still.  I was bummed and then annoyed that I was sad over something so stupid.  Ugh.

My stomach still feels a little iffy today so I've been on bland foods.  Bananas and some vegetable soup.  I brought some frozen enchiladas for lunch but wasn't feeling up to it so I stuck with the soup and some cheese.  Apparently what happens if you put shredded cheese in hot vegetable soup is that it melts and all floats to the bottom in big clumps.  Still yummy though.

Now, back to "Game of Thrones".  A friend of ours works for a newspaper and got the first 6 episodes of the show to review.  So he invited some people over who have been excited about it to watch with him.  I haven't read the books that the show is based on but I love big sweeping fantasy epics so I was thrilled.  The show was awesome overall and something in particular really struck me. 

In the show there's a main female character who is supposed to be beautiful and sexy and (this being HBO) you see her naked for more than a couple scenes.  I'm so used to any girl you see like this on TV or in movies being a skeleton with protruding ribs and visible chest bones but this actress (Emilia Clarke) actually looked a normal person.  You can't count her ribs, let alone her chest bones, and her upper arms are bigger than her elbows.  Hell, she didn't even have a "perfect" sculpted flat stomach.  And she looked amazing!  All the guys in the room thought she was hot and it was so refreshing to see someone who actually looks like a real person on TV.  I'm a fan.  I hope to see more of this in the future.

In other random news, I have a couple links to share.  First off, surprising no one who has dealt with an eating disorder, work and social stress put you at risk for a relapse.  It's why I've been trying to be so careful recently with all this boyfriend grad school/moving stuff.  This is a point when I know I can't afford to let my guard down.  The last few big changes in my life have lead to dangerous eating disorder symptoms and I'm determined to not repeat that.

Secondly, a totally awesome sciency thing I just have to share (being the science geek that I am).  Beard science!  It has one of the funniest pictures I've ever seen in my life.  What happens if you rub a live baby chicken over a beard soaked with an avian virus?  Find out in this exploration of a 1967 microbiology article.

And, that's all I've got!  Hope everyone out there's having a great Monday.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Moving forward, looking back, and standing still

I woke up this morning feeling more than a little nostalgic.  I think it had something to do with the inside of our house being cool but there being that promise of another hot day (it was 85 degrees yesterday) in the air.  It reminded me of being a kid again during summer vacation, waking up in air conditioning, going downstairs and sitting with my mom on the back deck, getting dressed and going to farmer's market, maybe swimming in the afternoon.  Years before worries about whether that 1 nibble of muffin is going to make me fat, worries about pulling my hair out, worries about going into debt for the boyfriend's grad school.  For the most part I'm pretty happy with my life these days but this morning all I could think about was if there was any way I could recapture that time. 

Sadly, there's really not.  I mean, I could take a few days off work this summer, go home, sleep in my childhood bed.  My mom's a teacher, she'd be there.  But it wouldn't be the same. 

I don't normally look back like this so it's weird for me.  I've always been very focused on moving forward, doing things right.  But this past year things have kind of been at a stand-still.  When I was a teenager there was school and the constant knowledge that I had to do well in X class so I could get into Y class and get into a good college.  Then there was college and every class I took was one step closer to graduating.  Then my Masters program and the research that brought me closer to my thesis every day.  Then I graduated and there was the job hunt.  At the same time I started this job I met my boyfriend and there was the moving forward of the relationship.  The first date, swapping keys, moving in together.  Everything was to get to the next step.  This last year though feels like it has been mainly a waiting game.  I should have been job hunting a year ago, looking to get closer to what I really want to do but I knew I'd be moving so I didn't.  This marriage and kids thing is on hold until after grad school.  I've made very little progress at this recovery thing.  I travelled some but that's about it.  It makes me wonder, what have I been doing with my life?

I don't exactly have an answer.  Cooking more, working out, hanging out with friends and family, watching TV, reading, and playing video games are all nice but I have trouble seeing how any of it is taking me to the next step.  I think it'd be so nice to go back to when I just enjoyed things instead of always worrying about moving forward.

Anyhow, on a different note, I found out that the friends we're hanging out with tomorrow night won't be over until 7pm.  And then we're going to decide on dinner.  I hate late dinners.  And yes, that's late for me.  I found this out yesterday and ever since I've been trying to psych myself up to eat a snack when I get home.  And at the same time I just keep thinking about how ridiculous this is.  I have to give myself a pep talk to eat a snack and decide what it will be three days in advance.  Fantastic.

And my last random thing is this article.  Close to one in three women in this survey would swap a year or more of their life for their ideal body shape.  I know 320 women isn't a huge sample size to make sweeping conclusions and it's easy to say you'd do something that could never actually be accomplished but still.  It should be zero because it shouldn't even be a question.  The sad part is I think I agree with those 30% of the women.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A confession of sorts

I thought today, pretty much out of the blue, I'd try and be really brave.  I wanted to talk about something that's totally embarrassing for me.  As in embarrassing enough that I never even mentioned it to the various therapists I've seen for my eating disorder.  (On a side note, can I just say how ridiculous it is to be embarrassed to talk to someone you're already paying to listen to your craziness.)  And it's silly that it's this hard to write but that it's not hard for me to write about anorexia symptoms.  I guess it's the same as how I have trouble talking about the binge-eating I've suffered.  Anorexia is just more socially acceptable.

Anyhow, here goes.

I suffer from trichotillomania. 

It's a scary name and don't worry if you haven't heard of it.  Most of my brother's psych major friends haven't even heard of it.  Basically, it's a psychological disorder charaterized by repetitive hair pulling.  (Wikipedia is good if you want to know a little more.)  So when I'm stressed or bored or sometimes for no reason at all, I pull my hair out.  It really takes the phrase "tearing your hair out" to a new level!  I'm lucky in that I've always had incredibly thick hair (seriously, I used to have my hair dresser thin my hair), that I only want to pull a strand at a time (some people pull clumps), and that places where I feel the urge to pull from are in the middle of my head so it's never been noticeable to anyone but me.  But I know.  I can look at my hair and tell, based on the number of short strands growing back in, how stressful the past few months have been for me.

I was around 14 or 15 when it started, long before the anorexia, though years after some of the other food issues.  But I definitely think it's all connected.  I find when I'm under stress, even if I manage to keep the eating under control, the hair pulling ramps up.  And I've often compared the two, as in both should feel bad but somehow for me they don't.

I saw a therapist for trichotillomania, before the anorexia.  He talked about how it was impulse control disorder, like pyromania or kleptomania.  I remember nodding along but somehow it never seemed to fit me.  I didn't feel a sense of rising tension before I did it and a release afterwords.  A recent journal article really made it make so much more sense to me though.  Basically, they say that hair pulling in people with eating disorders seems to have more in common with OCD-type compulsions than impulsive urges.  And although I've never been diagnosed with OCD that really clicked.  For me this reduces anxiety, the same way repetitive handwashing does for other people.  The problem is that it's not a real fix for the anxiety, even though it makes me feel better.

So, I guess this isn't completely out of the blue.  It's probably not a surprise that this has been a particularly stressful couple months with the boyfriend's grad school stuff and all the uncertainty.  And I've noticed that while the eating has been okay for the most part, the hair pulling hasn't been great.  I need to be utilizing my healthy techniques for handling anxiety more.  And keep thinking about whether or not more therapy could be useful at this point in my life.

My parents obviously knew about the hair pulling but I think, like the anorexia, they like to assume that it's behind me.  And that's about it.  I've told my boyfriend "I have some obsessive-compulsive issues related to the eating disorder".  But I've never told a friend or other family member.  I still wouldn't.  I'd be way too ashamed.  And yet, I've told more that a few people about the eating disorder.  But I feel good about having talked about it here.  It's good to get some things out in the open I think.  It removes some of their power.

And I'm not even going to reread this because I think if I do I won't post it.  So apologies for the rough draft but I'm hitting publish.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Quick post - from the web

I don't have very long, this being the start of the week from hell at work which is running concurrently with the increased freaking out about this boyfriend grad school thing.  (He got into Duke.  Do I want to move all the way across the country?  Why are the 3 other schools so slow?!)  But I did want to share a couple of interesting things I've seen online.

First off, could the season you were born in increase your chances of developing anorexia? It's an interesting point about very early environmental risk factors if this study is correct.  May birthday here, hmmm.

And secondly.  This one is much more likely to make me want to scream and rip my hair out.  The editor of Italian Vogue is launching a campaign against pro-anorexia.  I've talked about my opinion of pro-anorexia before so it's pretty clear I don't think it's the great evil it's portrayed but let's not even get into that.  Does anyone else see the irony?  Please tell me it's not just me.  I just can't believe that Franca Sozzani (a woman who looks like she has skipped quite a few meals herself) is saying that these sites are bad because they "push young people into competition over their physical shape".  Because her magazine doesn't do that?  Really?  Where the hell does she think the pictures of skinny models on these sites come from?  The whole thing and all the hypocrisy makes me sick. 

Ugh.  Anyhow, back to work.  Hope everyone out there has a great Monday.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I apologize for being so slow posting again and responding to comments.  I've been in a bit of a funk this past week.  I've been having stomachaches that only feel better when I eat.  Unsurprisingly, this is a little scary for me.  I haven't worked out since Sunday because of this so I'm feeling fat and gross and lazy.  Plus we're still waiting to hear from 4 more grad schools who are being so slow at sending their acceptances/rejections so I can't even start looking into all that yet.  Stupid holding patterns.

I went to the doctor about my stomach and, as I always do (especially for something digestive system related), I asked if this could be connected to my history of eating disorders.  What I'm really saying is, "Did I do this to myself?"  Because I blame myself for getting this stupid eating disorder and ruining so many things.  I know, you can't give yourself an eating disorder but I knew when I started cutting out meals that I was doing something bad for me, I just didn't care.  And yes, I would also blame myself if I got cancer or something.  I mean, it'd be clear that meant I didn't eat enough antioxidants or something, right?


The doctor said it probably wasn't connected to my history so that's something.  But I just kept thinking, not yet.  I'm still waiting.  Like I deserve to have some sort of horrible lasting health effects for being such an idiot and not feeding myself. 

See?  Funk.

The highlight of my week has been the amazing mangoes we got in our CSA box.  I chopped them up last night into a salad of black beans, corn, red onion, and avocado, dressed with white balsamic vinegar and EVOO.  It's marinating for dinner tonight so maybe, since I don't have to cook, I'll drag our lawn furniture out of the garage and spend some time after work enjoying the sun and the time change on our deck.  That might be just what I need to snap out of this.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Snacks - the next frontier???

So I logged into here this morning and was kind of surprised by the flurry of page views.  I always seem to get a fair amount but this was a lot for my little fledgling blog.  Then I figured out that Charlotte linked to my last post on her twitter feed so thanks for that!  I'm glad people liked my why recovery is worth it list.  It's so important to me to remind myself why I'm doing this and hopefully the list will help someone else out there too.  Anyhow, if anyone new is reading this because of that welcome and feel free to leave me a comment.  (That goes for anyone who's been reading for a while too!) I'd love to know more about who my readers are. I know I don't really ask open-ended things that are easy to respond to or anything but I worry about doing that and getting no feedback and then being sad!  So just know that I always love to hear other people's input or personal stories.

Now, that all said, I'll get into what I really logged on to write about.

I had a rough evening last night.  I got home from work and the boyfriend wanted to eat dinner out with his best friend who's visiting and some other mutual friends.  Okay, cool.  So he called his friend and the guy (who's notoriously flaky) doesn't pick up.  So the boyfriend talks to his other friends and they decide to wait on the guy for a while, see if he gets in touch.  Less cool but still okay.  I like to eat dinner by 6:30 at the latest but I was fine for a bit longer.  It gets longer and longer and the boyfriend tells me I should eat a snack since it's obviously going to be kind of a late dinner.  Cue freak-out.

I still have a lot of problems with snacks for whatever reason.  If I can call something part of a meal (even if it's dessert after dinner eaten 2 hours later) I'm fine.  But snacks scare me.  I ate them when I needed to gain weight and then once I was at a normal weight I stopped.  I guess my problem with eating snacks even when, like last night, I'm really hungry is that I'm afraid I'll eat the extra calories and then still eat all my meal calories too and get fat.  It's so silly.  First of all, I don't count calories.  Secondly, I'm much more in touch with my hunger cues these days.  It's not like eating when I'm just bored or lonely or something.  Plus I had beautiful tangerines fresh from my CSA box but I couldn't even manage to eat one of those.

Anyways, I snapped at the boyfriend that I didn't want a snack, I wanted dinner, and proceeded to sit there for another half an hour, until I was completely starving.  And I don't know what it is but these days I tend to lose it when I get really hungry.  I just flat-out can't function and completely go crazy.  It's mostly around dinner-time, maybe because that's when I tend to eat heaviest in the day, but I can actually feel myself losing it.  And once I do I can't have a conversation with anyone, I can't focus on anything.  The only thing I can do is snap at everyone around me until I eat something.  And then I'll feel myself coming back down to Earth.  Am I crazy?  Probably.  It's very weird though.  I mean, I used to subsist on such a tiny amount of calories.  I remember being irritable sometimes, but nothing even close to this.  Maybe it's the fact that my body knows I've starved it before and so reacts very strongly to that threat?  I don't know.  It does make me wonder if anyone else in ED recovery has dealt with this or if I'm just a freak.

We ended up eating Thai food for dinner at almost 8pm, without the best friend of course.  And because I was ravenous I probably ate more calories than I would have if I'd just eaten the damn snack.  Grrrrr.  Well, lesson learned.  Next time this happens, and it will- we have a lot of flaky friends, I'm really going to try to eat something small. The temporary anxiety has to be better than the temporary insanity.  (And just saying that gets my heart rate up, sigh.) 

I can feel my boyfriend getting frustrated and I don't blame him.  It's not nice to be snapped at when you haven't done anything wrong.  As much as I'd love to eat at the exact same time every day it sometimes just doesn't work out that way in the real world and I have to be able to handle that.  Last night I told the boyfriend that he just had to live with it since it was the eating disorder and not my fault but, as he pointed out, that's not an excuse.  It's a reason but it means I need to deal with it.  He said I've "come to far to stop now" and he's right.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Why I'll stay in recovery

I didn't realize it had been a whole week since I last posted!  The boyfriend's best friend has been in town visiting, my brother is having surgery tomorrow to fix his fractured wrist, and my parents have been in and out.  But all in all things are better than last time I wrote.  Except for the surgery bit of course but even that is routine and my brother should be back in school the next day.  Mostly he's bummed about not getting to snowboard again this season.  Probably a good thing since that's how he fractured his wrist in the first place.

I'm already planning our first camping trip of the season with some friends.  We went camping with them last year and had an amazing time so we're going for longer this year.  The boyfriend and I also celebrated our anniversary this weekend which was nice.  And best of all the boyfriend got his first grad school acceptance!  I can't even explain how much it feels like a weight has been lifted.  I knew he'd get accepted but it wasn't for sure until he had the letter.  It's such a relief, even though he's still waiting to hear from all the other schools and I don't know where we're moving yet.  But hey, in 6 months I could be a Colorado resident.  Weird.

Anyhow, the eating disorder has been pretty quiet this past week.  I can't let my guard down even when it's not actively trying to kill me but it's nice when things feel a little less insane in my head.  I get to breathe a little.  So I think now is a good time to make my list that I keep talking about.  So without further rambling:

Why Eating Disorder Recovery is Worth it

1.  I'm not freezing all the time.  I've always tended to be cold, even years before the eating disorder, but not eating results in this bone-deep, aching cold.  It hurts.

2.  I can enjoy meals out with friends and family.  I turned down or suffered through so many social events just because they involved food.  Restaurants were the scariest things.  These days I rarely even check menus, let alone calorie counts, before I go somewhere anymore.  It's refreshing.

3.  I don't get horrible headaches.  Hunger headaches suck, enough said.

4.  I have room in my life for relationships.  My eating disorder isolated me from friends and family, especially my parents who I love so much.  There was no time or energy for romantic relationships either.  If I went back to the eating disorder I'd have to accept the fact that I could lose the man I love.

5.  I don't feel like I'm in a fog.  I can't think straight when my brain is calorie-deprived and I need to for my job.  Who wants to be working with hazardous chemicals when they're mentally a mess?

6.  I'm not frantic if something interferes with my workouts.  Last night a friend from out of town was around unexpectedly.  I'd planned to workout but it was easy to pick which was more important.

7. I want to someday have children.  An eating disorder screws this up in so many ways.  Even if I could get pregnant how could I submit a growing fetus to starvation and then, once it was born, teach it to treat food like an enemy?  I want my kids to have a healthy relationship with food.

8.  I don't have a scary sunken face anymore.  I still have trouble accepting that my body looks better now but I can at least look at the pictures of me from when my eating disorder was bad and see how sad and aged my face looked.  It's a cosmetic reason but whatever works.

9.  I don't have to sleep in crazy contorted postions with pillows everywhere.  Between 2 people and 2 cats the bed is already crowded enough without me having to worry about putting pillows under my hip bones so I can sleep.

10.  I rarely have huge bruises that I don't remember getting anymore.  I bruise easily still, it's a fact.  And sometimes I don't know why I'm black and blue but nothing like when the eating disorder was bad and I was embarrased to wear skirts because of my brusied shins.

11.  I don't cry if someone gives me food.  I take it as the nice gesture it is and move on.

12.  I almost never have uncontrollable binges.  I suffered from binge eating before the anorexia, binges are something I will always struggle with ocassionally.  But when I was underweight I physically couldn't stop eating sometimes.  It was awful but now at a normal weight I can tell my body I will feed it again when it's hungry and it's starting to believe me.

13.  I cook more exciting things.  If a recipe calls for sugar or oil or nuts I don't run away screaming anymore.  It's really fun to experiment and try new things.

14.  I enjoy travelling much more.  What would a camping trip be without s'mores?  One trip to London when the eating disorder was bad I didn't get to enjoy hot chips on a cold night like I did when I lived in the UK  These things are okay and won't hurt me.

15.  I don't have to worry about a low heart rate or getting osteoporosis before I'm 30.  These health things are abstract and still don't really scare me but it's important to remember how physically dangerous eating disorders are.

16.  I don't have my mood decided every morning by a random number on a piece of plastic.  I'd like to one day be okay with knowing the number and not have any emotional response to it but for now I'll settle for just not weighing myself and being okay not knowing.  Seriously, who flies their scale around the country with them?  It was sad.

17.  I enjoy food.  Ice cream while watching trashy TV, my mom's delicious salmon, the stew that my boyfriend made that I have no idea what was in.  Why should these make me afraid?

18.  I don't get sick anytime anyone sneezes within a 50 yard radius.  I ride public transportation almost daily.  I need a better immune system than the one that let me catch 2 colds and a stomach flu all in one month.

19.  I lose it, emotionally, less.  I will always be sensitive, it's just a fact.  I don't need to cry over things like eating something that has 50 more calories than I thought it did. 

20.  I have a lot more free time.  Writing down every bite, scouring the web for diet and exercise tips, and staring at pictures of skinny models leaves no time for the things I really enjoy like reading or discovering a great new TV show.

And that's what I have for now.  I felt like I should maybe do a big one for the last one but these are more honest.  Yes, an eating disorder might kill me but when I start to get stressed and it starts to feel like restricting might be good, that won't stop me.  These might actually remind me why I'm doing this.

Monday, February 28, 2011


I've been struggling a bit the past couple days.  I've just generally felt kind of down and anxious.  We ended up going to the boyfriend's mom's house on Saturday to see her and his brothers.  I love the boyfriend's mom to death, honestly.  I couldn't ask for a better future mother-in-law, especially having watched my mom (my grandmother was not a very nice person) and now my best friend struggle with theirs.  But when we got there she asked me if I'd lost weight.  I muttered, "I don't know.  I haven't been trying to."  She said that my face "looks very slim".  And that I "look great."  (She added that I always look great though.)  That, of course, sent me into a panic of "What if I've lost weight?  I don't need to, that'd be bad.  But it'd be happy about it.  Maybe I have.  My face always looks skinny first.  Do I need to lose weight?  Should I lose weight?" 

I want to smack myself.  Why does an innocent comment have so much power over me?  I just need to tell her a little about my eating disorder next time we're alone, I think.  She runs a non-profit for handicapped young children.  She would definitely understand and be supportive.

Then we went to the mall since one of the boyfriend's brothers needed shoes and his mom wanted to go to Macy's.  I'd been thinking last week about how I hate all my clothes (seriously, I wear the same few things every week) so I was hoping I could find a couple things.  Then we got there and the boyfriend's mom wanted to buy me clothes and I choked.  I tried on a couple things that looked terrible on me and then mostly wandered around the massive store being overwhelmed and angry about how clothes look on me now as opposed to when I was skinny.  I desperately wanted to find something but the boyfriend's brothers kept telling me to hurry up so I ended up walking out empty handed.  I'm pretty sure his mom thinks I'm nuts now.  Sigh.  And I still have nothing to wear.

And then at the restaurant where we went for dinner the conversation came around to where the boyfriend is going to get into grad school, how he needs healthcare (he's a Type I diabetic), that we're going to move and not be married, married student housing, weddings, etc.  So because I was completely freaked out by the entire day I ended up eating this giant dessert that wasn't even good and I didn't even want.  All in all a fantastic day.

Oh, and my parents called to say they were coming into town to take my brother to dinner since he's been sad and that they wanted to get coffee with me afterwards.  Of course I couldn't because I was out of town with the boyfriend but all I could think was how it'd be nice if they realized I could have used a visit from them, not just as an after-thought, and how they'd know that if they ever bothered to call me and ask.  I have trouble asking for help or support.  Always have.  These are my parents.  Shouldn't they get that by now?

Anyhow, I'm just having a blah few days.  I'm sure it'll pass soon but it's hard to eat right (not too much or too little) when I feel like this.  I'll try and make my next post cover what I talked about last time.  I could kind of use that right now.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Turning it around

So, it's been pretty much a shit week where work is concerned.  Nothing has gone right and that sucks because it means I've put many hours of work into experiments and have absolutely nothing to show for them.  Plus the weather has been cold (for California) and rainy and gross.  But my eating has been pretty good so I'm happy with that.  We got a new veggie box full of delicious things.  I made a tasty stir-fry last night with frozen veggies as normal but threw in fresh baby bok choy and it totally rocked.  I had the leftovers today for lunch with some leftover cauliflower from a few days ago mixed in.  Yum.  And tonight I've promised the boyfriend I would try making him kale chips since he hated the sauteed kale I made with onions and garlic last time.  I also have some sausage-less Italian sausage from Trader Joe's so I might make fake sausage sandwiches with peppers and onions.  Hopefully it all turns out well.

In other news, a conversation I had with the boyfriend really got me thinking about eating disorders and turning points.  Our anniversary is coming up and I made some comment about how, on our first date, I ate plain salad, even though we went to this delicious Italian place that has amazing pasta and how I definitely wouldn't do that now.  The boyfriend said something about that being weird because I was past the worst of the eating disorder by then.  And he's right but, as I explained to him, I was still very much in it then.  And he asked me, "well, what changed?"

It's a very good question.  I mean, I was obsessively over-exercising just weeks before the boyfriend and I started dating. And the second time we hung out as friends (prior to any dates) we had plans to go out for lunch, but when he called to meet up I said I'd already eaten but we could get coffee.  Of course I hadn't eaten, I just felt I'd eaten too much the night before to deserve lunch. 

This was all just prior to my second recovery period, the one I'm still in now and hope to be for a long time.  The first was in the last couple months leading up to finishing my Masters degree and I know what changed then.  I realized (over a few weeks) that if I didn't eat more I wasn't going to graduate.  I was going to end up in the hospital and my parents would have yanked me out of the program, no question about it.  So I ate a little more, gained a few pounds, and managed to get my period back.  But then the program ended and I started obsessively exercising and stressing about my eating again.  I guess I relapsed though I've never really thought of it that way.

As for what made me turn things around this time, I don't really know.  Gaining the rest the weight I needed to, as much as I hate it, has helped keep me from relapsing again.  And not having a gym for a while helped with the exercising.  But what about the eating?  In my relapse I wasn't as bad about food as I was at the height of the eating disorder but I certainly wasn't great.  I keep searching my memory for that "Aha!" moment when I realized I couldn't go on this way and had to change but I'm beginning to realize it doesn't exist.  It was a very gradual process of realizing simply that although this whole recovery thing sucks sometimes, being deep in the eating disorder sucks more.

It's a little scary to recognize that.  I wish I had that moment of realization as part of my arsenal so that when, inevitably at some point in the future, the eating disorder seems like a smart choice I could whip it out and say "no, remember this!"  But I don't.  I have a few small reasons and just the nice, but vague, overall feeling that I'm happier now.  I don't really know if that's enough.  I think hopefully soon I'll try to do a post cataloguing some of those small reasons so I have them in one place if I ever need them.  Maybe that'll help.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Eating in

I'm disappointed in myself.  I turned down dinner with my boyfriend and some of his friends.  Part of it is they all went to college together and I find the rehashing of those memories super boring after a while.  Seriously, I think I could recite word for word the stories they tell every time.  And a lot of those stories involve another (previously mutual) friend that my boyfriend is no longer friends with because of how this guy treated me (a whole other story on it's own).  So that always makes me feel pretty awkward.  But mainly I did what I always do.  I hear the words "eat out" and my brain says "restaurant, unknown, scary, too many calories."

I know eating out is a huge fear for a lot of people with eating disorders and I'm no exception.  I remember once calling my dad 3 times while he was out picking up Subway to change my order as I scoured their website calorie counts.  And don't even mention eating somewhere without posted stats.  I basically ate only undressed salads at restaurants for years.  These days I'm pretty good about picking something that balances what I want with what won't give me an anxiety attack.  Sometimes I even manage fries or dessert.  But I still struggle with the initial brain freak-out.

The conversation in my head today went something like this:
"Who knows what restaurant you'd end up at or what would be in the food?  Restaurants are scary."
"But eating out is fun sometimes."
"You eat out all the time.  Way too much.  It's unhealthy."
"And you're going to eat pizza at your lunch meeting.  That's more than enough."

So I didn't go.  It's okay.  It's just once.  I think it's alright if it doesn't become a pattern.  I ate dinner at home, including a cookie the boyfriend brought home for me.  I worked out but not too much.  All in all it's not too terrible but still.  I need to watch out for losing these battles.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lesson learned

Never make posts about other people when you're PMSing.  I'll leave my last post up because it's honest.  It's how I was feeling at the moment but I swear, I'm not actually a horrible person even if it kinda comes off that way!  My brother and I talked and while things aren't fixed per say (we still have some issues both from this and other events) at least we're speaking and I think we can give our dad the birthday he wants.  And that's what really matters to me.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Why I might kill my brother and go to prison

Warning: The following rant has nothing to do with food or eating disorders and is really long.  I'm sorry.

I think I might have mentioned this before, my brother and I currently aren't on speaking terms.  Haven't been for more than a month now.  Maybe that wouldn't be so weird but we live on the same street (he goes to college in the city I live in).  We both have a nasty habit of saying things we don't mean when we're angry, just to hurt the other person, and so our last conversation about why I don't like his girlfriend ended in him calling me a bitch and me telling him that his girlfriend "dresses like a slut".  Straight out of a Jerry Springer episode really.  To be fair, I am a bitch sometimes and once, when I got home from some family event, the boyfriend asked me in regards to my brother's girlfriend if "the boobs were out to play".  So maybe neither of us was that far off the mark.

Regardless, we have to patch things up because our dad's 60th birthday is at the beginning of next month and he wants to do a trip to the snow.  (Yes, I live in the magical land when going to the snow is considered a vacation.  Hate me if you must.)  I can see it now, us all locked in a cabin when some blizzard hits.  I might kill myself.  Thank god people will be escaping to the slopes.

The problem is I genuinely dislike this girl my brother's seeing and I have so many issues with her and his relationship.  I know, I know.  Any advice columnist would tell me to shut up and be nice and that I'm a bad person, and it's true, but seriously.  If I have to listen to her shriek one more time when my parent's dogs come near her or watch her hang off of my brother or hear her baby talk to him or see those damn booty shorts she wears to my parent's house, I might murder her.  I just don't understand.  She goes to the same really good college my brother does, doesn't this mean she's supposed to be smart?

My boyfriend keeps telling me to stay out of it and he's probably right but I'm kind of offended that my brother brought her home.  I guess it's part of me always having a plan but my boyfriend was the first guy I ever took to meet my family and that wasn't until I knew for sure that he was the one for me.  I had great, long-term relationships before him but I never brought them home because I knew they wouldn't fit in with my family or wouldn't have gotten along with, let alone been good influences on, my younger brother.  Why inflict that on any of the involved parties?  It just doesn't make sense to me.  So I'm upset that my bother brought this girl home who so clearly doesn't fit in that I can 100% guarantee if he wasn't dating her, he would hate her.  Neither of my parents really like her but what can I say?  They're better people than I am.  I've never known how to be friendly with someone I don't like.  It's just one of those skills I completely fail at.

Even more so than my issues with this girl I have issues with how my brother acted when he started dating her.  It went from him calling me once a week to have dinner to never, instantly.  And I could even handle this since he's very young for his age and this is his first serious relationship but when I started dating my boyfriend 3 years my brother threw a fit.  He told my parents and even some of my few friends that I was ignoring him.  And it's half true I guess, we went from seeing each other a couple times a week to once a week.  But it seriously damaged my relationship with some friends and he didn't even try to talk to me first.  I guess I'm still a little bitter over that.  And extremely bitter over him acting the same way he complained about.  Nothing drives me more crazy than hypocrisy.

But my family is really important to me and I do want to have a relationship with my brother so I know I need to get past all this.  I'm supposed to have lunch with my brother tomorrow.  I plan to apologize for not really making much effort to talk to or get to know his girlfriend.  I did some but when she started annoying me I gave up.  I have to find some way to ignore that.  But I'm also going to tell him how upset I was by his actions.  I should have when we had the last conversation and I'll never get over it unless I do.  I also really, really want to say that although I'm going to be nicer that he needs to be realistic about her fitting into our family.  My boyfriend (and okay, probably common sense) says I shouldn't but I'm worried that my brother's so immature that he just can't see it.  But I don't want to make things worse and so I'm really going to try to contain myself.  We'll see.

I just don't handle conflict well.  Never have.  I say too much or too little and then invariably I cry.  It sucks.  But I guess it's one of those things I'll never get better at unless I work on it so here's a chance.  Hopefully we'll be speaking again after all this.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I've been struggling a lot lately with all the unknowns in my life.  I like order, I like plans, I like stability. And as long as I can remember I've always known where my life was going.  I mean, I said when I was 4 that I was going to be a scientist and now?  I do science.  I knew I was going to go through school, get good grades, and get into a good college.  I knew before I even started college that I was going to study abroad and I did.  I lived in Scotland for a year.  The only time when there was some uncertainty in my life was after I got back from studying abroad with only 1 year left of undergrad and hadn't decided whether I wanted to go to grad school or find a job.  It's not too surprising to me that that was the point when I finally crossed the disordered eating/eating disorder line.  As I've said, I don't deal well with uncertainties.

The thing that I have a hard time facing is that this isn't a normal state of affairs.  A lot people in their mid-twenties still have no idea what they want to do or where they want their lives to go.  Most the people I know are still figuring all that out.  It's really normal.  But for someone who's always had a plan it's hard for me to suddenly have my life connected with someone who hasn't. 

I'm so lucky to have my boyfriend in my life, I know this.  Without him my eating disorder would still be really bad.  He's helped me get through so much of it.  And he makes me happy.  But he's still working on figuring out what he wants out of life and it's hard.  He's applied to grad school and beyond all the unknowns of where I'll be living in 6 months, I'm not completely convinced that this is even what he really wants to do.  I really hope it is because I can only handle so many changes.

My best friend told me that she thinks this move will be a really good thing for me.  She said she thinks I need to get out of my comfort zone.  She's probably right.  I'm comfortable living an hour from my parents, living in the same state I've spent my entire life.  My job can be boring but I know what to expect from it.  I'm even comfortable skirting the edges of my eating disorder.  This is all safe to me.  On the other hand my boyfriend says he's really excited to go somewhere new, explore a new city, all of that.  Maybe if I could see that I would be too but the problem is right now all I see is the massive unknown of where this new city will be.  And beyond that I see moving, leaving my family and the few friends I have here, and adjusting to a new place.  I find it all terrifying.

Furthermore, there's the uncertainty of when I'll get married and when I'll have kids.  Honestly, I love my boyfriend to death and I want these things with him but if I could solve that uncertainty by doing them by myself I might actually do that.  Unfortunately it's kind of hard to get married by yourself and that's what I want.  I don't even really care about a wedding, though that'll be fun I'm sure, but more than anything I want to fully share a life with the man I'm in love with.  Sorry about the sap a couple days late but it's true.  I look forward to buying a house together, sharing a name, all of that.  And it'll happen.  I just have to learn to deal with the fact that not everything can follow some aribitrary plan I've laid out.

My response to all the unknows is to fix some of that anxiety by restricting.  Just skipping a snack will make me feel so much better.  But then it's like taking a drug (or at least how taking drugs was explained in my elementary school program).  Skipping a snack isn't enough to quell the anxiety anymore, it needs to be a meal.  Then 2 meals.  And so on.  But I'm not willing to do that anymore.  It's not worth it because the anxiety is still there waiting for me.  My only option is to face the uncertainty, even though it feels awful because there's absolutely nothing I can do to make things more certain right now. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pro-anorexia and why I can't hate it

Hmm, did I say I was going to do a post this weekend?  Well, I kind of got distracted what with all of the TV that required watching, books that required reading, and video games that required playing.  Someone's got to do it!  But now I'm at work and bored which always equals more blogging.

I mentioned pro-anorexia a few posts ago and thought that it deserved a bit more of a discussion.  I've read a lot about pro-anorexia from people in ED recovery and it's run the gamut from "it ruined my life" to "it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know."  The interesting thing to me is that every single ED sufferer (in the western world at least) seems to have some familiarity with it.  I'm sure there are exceptions but my guess is they're rare.  Like so many other things it seems it was made bigger when it was revealed to the general public as this huge scandal.  I certainly have had my experiences with it and I even missed the media blitz on it by several years.

Personally, I heard about pro-anorexia on a TV program.  It wasn't even a news program is the sad part.  At the time I was already restricting (as I had in the past) but I'm not sure if I'd quite crossed that eating disorder boundary yet.  I started looking around online immediately afterwards and found all the tips and pictures I could have ever wanted, including the Livejournal communities that I ended up being a part of.  Did pro-anorexia cause my eating disorder?  Absolutely not.  A genetic predisposition and the right conditions at the right time caused it.  I believe I would have gotten just as sick as I did on my own.  But pro-anorexia certainly sped that process up, made me feel justified in my behavior, and helped keep me sick longer.

Additionally, pro-anorexia gave me some symptoms that I don't think I would have developed without it.  This includes comparing my body to celebrities.  Even as a heavier teenager I didn't do that.  I can remember wishing I looked like skinnier classmates but I never looked at celebrity pictures or obsessed over how thin they were.  To this day I still do that now.

Considering all this you'd think I would be the first to jump on the bandwagon that supports banning all pro-anorexia on the internet.  The thing is that when I was sick it filled a hole that I don't think anything else would have.  To make things clear I steered far away from anything that handed out tips or actively discouraged recovery or supported competition between sufferers.  So for the most part it was just a lot of sick girls talking about their symptoms and telling each other they weren't the only ones.  True, no one ever told me that I should go to a doctor when I admitted to almost passing out but if they had I wouldn't have mentioned those symptoms.  Same reason I didn't mention it to my friends or my parents.  Online I could admit to things like crying when my flatmate accidentally broke my scale whereas when I mentioned that to a friend she stared at me like I was a crazy person and asked me if I had therapy later that day.  I think I might have exploded if I hadn't had a place to get out some of these issues.  And it's a very comforting thing to know that other people understand your pain.

Yes, I do think pro-anorexia helped me get sicker faster but when I inevitably reached that point that was the only support I had to tell me I wasn't alone.  So I guess I think the energy that's directed towards fighting pro-anorexia would be much better spent on working towards better ED treatments (with the obvious exception of sites that consider eating disorders a lifestyle and the like).  Because once I started recovering I left those sites behind forever and I have no urge to go back to them now.  If we help people recover better I think they'll naturally start to disappear on their own.

And let's be fair here.  Sure, pro-anorexia sites collected pictures of stick-thin models for me but who put them out there in the first place?  It's like treating the symptoms of any disease.  Until we address the deeper issues of weight obsession in our culture it's like trying to save the Titanic with a tea cup. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Quick hello

Just wanted to say hi tonight and that I'll try and get a real post up this weekend.  It's been a pretty great, but busy, week!

I'm loving the new elliptical machine still, though I have to say I'm so relieved we ended up putting it upstairs in the game room with the TV that does not have cable/Tivo.  I realized tonight (as I was watching Teen Mom on Tivo) that if the machine was downstairs I would not be sitting on the couch eating ice cream.  I'd be feeling horribly guilty for not working out while I was watching it so I'd end up doing that.  Because it's upstairs and I can only watch Netflix I have to make more of a conscious decision as to if I want to exercise.  It's a good thing for me.

In other news we got our first Community Supported Agriculture box.  Oh god.  It's amazing!  We got delicious oranges, avocados, cauliflower, kale, chard, lettuce, cilantro, carrots, lemons, potatoes, and beets. I've already had an orange that was bright and sweet and juicy.  I also roasted our cauliflower with lemon and garlic and my veggie-hating boyfriend deemed it "alright".  Success!  And then tonight I made pesto but with cilantro instead of basil.  It was super tasty with a bit of a kick and I even used the olive oil the recipe called for.  Last time I made pesto I used tofu instead of oil so go me.  I've never had kale or chard really though so I have no clue what I'll do with those but that was the point of signing up for this.

I'm planning to save the potatoes for Valentine's Day since it's my year to cook.  Our anniversary is in just a couple weeks so we save the fancy restaurant for that and have a romantic V-Day in instead.  I've never cooked Russian Banana Potatoes so we'll see what I do with them.  But the boyfriend loves potatoes so no matter what I'm sure he'll be happy.  Similarly I think I'm going to make salmon and cheesecake, also favorites.  I've never cooked either so I'll let you know how that goes!  But cheesecake seemed to make sense since I can make it in advance since it's a work night.  I also picked up some red icing so I'll put a cute heart on it and call it good.  Hopefully it all works out.

And I think that's it.  The ED thoughts have been pretty quiet this week, which rocks.  I even ate a cupcake today with not too much guilt.  I mean, my lunch was a little lighter than normal so that might be it but whatever.

I will leave you with a couple kitty pics.

Please don't judge me on my books.  I enjoy escapism lit.  So does this kitten.

He also likes to play Wii.

This one likes heat.  (I'm just waiting for her to set her whiskers on fire one of these days.)

Also, tasty flowers.  Mmmm.

And sun.  Of course.

And now I feel like this.  Goodnight.

Okay, maybe more than a couple.  I couldn't decide!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Another thing came out of the birthday party I went to this past weekend, besides the whole I'm so weird and no one wants to be my friend thing.  I realized, I'm still jealous.  I'm jealous of girls who have flatter stomachs than I do.  I'm jealous of girls who are more petite than I am.  And I'm sure as hell jealous of girls who are skinnier than I am.  But more than anything else I'm jealous of people who can skip meals and diet and lose weight.

Saturday night the host and hostess ordered Pizza Hut for dinner since there were so many people at the party and I think they wanted to keep it from being a fortune.  I don't really like cardboard-esque pizza, especially since pizza as a whole causes me a little anxiety still.  I mean, why be anxious over something that doesn't even taste good when I could be anxious over something totally worth it, like the fabulous deep dish pizza near us or the co-op that does a different pizza every day with things like corn or potatoes.  A few years ago if I'd been at this party I would have said "I don't like this" and not eaten anything.  A couple of years ago I would have brought my own food and only touched that.  But I'm really working on eating more "normally" and facing some fears.  And bottom line, I can't skip meals.  That way lies ruin.  I have to eat even if it's not my favorite.

As we were walking out after the party with our friends, one of them (let's call her Emma), was complaining about how hungry she was.  She said she was starving since she hates pizza, especially that kind of pizza, and so she didn't eat anything.  It took me about 0.3 seconds to chime in with "Oh, I hate that stuff too but I have to eat.  I can't skip meals."  (Like I needed to defend my eating.)  Emma knows about my eating disordered past though I don't know if she actually connected the two things.

Anyhow, I was upset that she talked about this kind of thing again (she does this pretty frequently) but it occurred to me as we were driving home that it wasn't the fact that it made me feel bad about eating or something, I was actually jealous.  Emma can do this whenever she wants to- not eat lunch until 4pm, skip dinner, and lose weight.  I want to do those things.  As we were leaving another friend even told Emma's partner to "make sure she eats something."  All I can think is how I want all of that.  I want the feeling of skipping meals, of being that in control.  I want to lose the weight that I've gained.  Just a little, that'd be okay, right?  I want people to worry when I don't eat, be jealous of how I can lose weight better than anyone.  Why does it have to be the other way around?  Why is this acceptable behavior for everyone else except me?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sun, elliptical update, and not making friends

I love living in California.  Seriously, I went to the grocery store in flip-flops today.  How much does that rock?  It's been chilly (by my standards anyways) and it will be chilly again soon but I love the chance to wear a light cardigan out in February.  I'm going to cry when I move and there's snow.

Things that are awesome about having my own elliptical machine:
1. Working out in a sports bra and shorts.  (I would never ever show my stomach in public so that's awesome.)
2.  My Netflix shows give me a built in timer.
3.  I finally have a chance to wear the shorts and pants I have that are too tight or short or see through.  (I knew I kept all the junk for a reason!)
4.  No one but my boyfriend has to see how sweaty and red my face gets.
5.  From the machine to the shower in less than 2 minutes.  (And not having to use gross gym showers.)
All in all I'm so glad we spent the money.  Maybe I'll have to invest in some weights one of these days too.

In other news, we went to friend's 30th birthday party yesterday.  He invited a ton of people (as in more than 50) and everyone hung out and drank a little and played video and board games.  It was the kind of atmosphere where you'd finish some game and the group who'd been playing with you would split up, get more food, and join games with different people.  I knew some of the people there but not a lot and more than once found myself playing games with 4 or 5 guys whose names I didn't even know.  I've grown a lot in the past couple years because before this never would have happened.  I would have been glued to my boyfriend the whole time.  So I felt pretty good about being able to ask people if I could play and joining in.

On the other hand I still had my fair share of obsessing.  I know I'm kind of weird and awkward and easily overwhelmed at the best of times and I've never been someone who made friends easily.  There's those people who others just seem to be drawn to, everyone wants to be their friend.  I feel like I'm kind of the opposite.  There's just nothing about me that compels people to want to keep talking to me or learn more.  There's also been some research into how people with eating disorders don't interpret emotions from others very well.  This makes sense to me.  I often think that people are annoyed at me or disinterested with what I'm saying, even if this isn't the case.  And so why would I open myself up if I think someone else feels this way?

In addition, I generally don't really like myself so why should someone else?  Still though, it made me kind of sad when a friend of mine who was there was being asked by all kinds of people she didn't know to come out drinking after the party broke up.  Things like that just don't happen to me.  I'm sure it's my fault but still.

This worries me because when we move I'm going to be in this new city with no friends or family nearby and my boyfriend (who already makes friends easily) will have a built-in social circle with the people who are in his grad school program.  I guess I'll have the people at my new job but um, I made zero friends at my current job.  Why should that change?  Not that I think my boyfriend will go to things without me and I'll be lonely but sometimes it sucks always being the tagalong.  I don't know.  Maybe I just need to accept that this is my personality and stop obsessing about it.  But I do have some great friends and my boyfriend so I can't be completely horrible, right?  I just wish I knew how to show it to more people.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fighting the feelings

I'm exhausted.  It's just been one of those weeks.  It doesn't help that I essentially compressed 5 already busy days into 4.  I was in the lab until 7pm yesterday and have basically been in there constantly every day, except for the few minutes I force myself to take a break and eat lunch.  And tonight even though I left at a decent time it took me more than double my normal commute time to get home.  Weeks like this tend to wreak havoc with my sleeping, eating, and broken brain things.  And by that I mean my self-esteem has been low and my body dysmorphia has been high.  I've been beating myself mentally black and blue for little things like losing a protocol sheet or eating an extra cookie.

This wasn't helped when today I followed a blog link from a link from a link in the comments of a blog I love.  I do this often and I've found some of my favorite blogs that way.  Unfortunately today I ended up at a pro-anorexia blog, complete with "thinspo".  (I have a lot to say about pro-anorexia but that's for another post.  Look for it soon!)  It was like seeing a car wreck.  I couldn't look away even though I so desperately wanted to.  I just stared at these pictures of totally normal-sized girls deemed "whales" by this blog writer and at the emaciated, supposedly good, comparisons.

And I wanted to cry.  It's been so hard for me to smother the voices in my head that tell me I'm a cow and insist that everyone who sees me is staring in disgust at how huge I am.  They say I'm not worthy of love, not worthy of anything.  But I've been doing pretty well at not having those thoughts as much lately, or at least ignoring them.  I still hate mirrors and pictures of myself but all in all I've been feeling okay in regards to that.  This one single website though just brought it all rushing back.  It was truly incredible how quickly it happened.  All the hatred and anger at myself were right there, just waiting for me to let my guard down in the slightest.  It was like the last 3 years of recovery never happened.  I could only stare at the mirror in the bathroom, wishing I was dead, positive that every single person is, like this one sick individual, as horrified by my appearance as I am.

It sounds overly dramatic, I know, I'm sorry.  But I'm a little scared now.  It feels like I have some sort of chained beast right behind me and the littlest thing will set it free to eat me.  (Get the irony? Eating?)  I really thought I'd put most of this behind me and it was shocking to realize just how present it still is.

The good news though is even though it upset me way more than it should have, I didn't let it change my behavior.  A therapist once had me take phrases like "I gained a pound and I'm upset so I can't go out with friends" to "I gained a pound and I'm upset and I'm going out with friends".  She said that it was okay to have these thoughts but you can't act on them.  So today I felt fat and didn't want to eat dinner but instead I felt fat and ate dinner.  It's a victory.  A couple years ago I would have done anything I had to to not eat tonight.  But I had a big tuna sandwich and some kettle chips and I feel better.  Still fat and gross and terrible but okay.  I can live in this body another day.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to eat ice cream and watch the SciFi channel.