Three potatoes.

*Quick note: this post will go more into ED thoughts and behaviors than I typically have. Please do not read on if that sort of talk would trigger you.*

I have been eating with my therapist every single Monday this entire semester (and twice a week for the last month). The point of these meals is for me to challenge myself in an environment where I’ll have support and, hopefully, be able to handle it better. That definitely has not been the case every week. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that the meals have including pleading, justifying, a few flat-out refusals, lots of bargaining, and supplementation when I just couldn’t handle the challenge.

I look back and wonder why I would spend so much time fighting my therapist rather than just doing what I’m supposed to, but it really isn’t so simple. The eating disorder is manipulative and it will find any opportunity to take over, even if it’s a seemingly minuscule way. That brings us to yesterday.

Like every other Monday, I had my dietitian check my meal before our session ended, then spent the next 30 minutes trying to focus on anything but the food I had to eat. This meal was still a challenge to me, not in content so much as amount. I felt semi-okay about it at first. I managed to eat a pretty good portion before something in my brain flipped. Suddenly I needed to stop, throw the rest away, and run out of therapy. While that didn’t happen, I did do something I’m not the most proud of: when R wasn’t looking (or who knows, maybe she could have been?), I quickly covered up the three pieces of potatoes I had left and continued on to a less scary portion of my meal. I still had more to complete after that, but it was like a calm came over my thoughts for a little while. I had gotten away with restriction right in front of my therapist, a huge win for ED.

It wasn’t those three tiny potatoes. It had zero to do with the negligible difference they would make in my life had I consumed them. It was solely about control. I am certainly not able to flat-out refuse meals when I’m in treatment, but this felt almost the same high as if I had. Another recent example was choosing not to try a new yogurt that sounded good because it was a whopping 10 calories more than my “safe” choice. Is that honestly going to do a damn thing?

While the glaring, logical answer may be “heck no!”, I’m not convinced. Part of me still believes these lies that the ED shouts at me each day. Life seems easier/”better” when I follow ED rules.

Some behaviors such as these ones trend towards being a bit ridiculous. They in no way will end with me magically staying thinner or losing weight or whatever other promise ED makes up. I can often notice my eating disorder manipulate other people, but truly isn’t it just doing the same to me?

I’m not sure if I want to change things, even knowing that I am the one being manipulated, too. For now I will keep fighting, and try to eat those potatoes next time.

Birthday post pt 1: 22

Last week, I turned 23. I truly can say that 22 was the fastest year of my life thus far. The days were long and full of struggle, but I sit here today (one whole week into my 23rd year) wondering how the hell it passed on by so quickly.

I’ve been in a reflecty/nostalgic sort of mood lately, so I wanted to look back on all this year brought.

The good:

  • Made it through the first year of nursing school! And did better than I ever thought!! This one deserves all the exclamation points. If I had to name one thing that made 22 pass by so dang fast, this would be it. I started out still very uncertain in my ability to truly be a nurse. I knew I could probably handle it academically and I love learning anyways, but working with patients was the real unknown. I’m grateful for the progress I’ve been able to make. I feel a thousand times more comfortable with patients now. I can see the ways I’ve grown and I’m proud of that.
  • Kept on going, no matter what. I’ve faced many obstacles this year. There were infinite moments I could have given up or given in. I did at times, of course, but overall I chose to fight instead. My stubbornness and resiliency helped me stay afloat in a pretty wide range of areas.
  • FINALLY got on good medications. I have zero shame about being on psychiatric meds. I felt pretty ambivalent about them before, but I finally ended up changing some things around with a new psychiatrist and the difference is CRAZY! I am so so glad I listened and decided to make steps towards healthy.
  • Giving up perfectionism in tiny ways. My nursing classes have naturally brought greater challenge and less likelihood of just acing a test without studying. This means I’m not the straight A student I once was. I’m learning to be okay with it, though. Test scores this year have had a large range, but I now can at least fight the negative thoughts that come with a B. It doesn’t have to ruin my day or week anymore.

The bad:

  • Lost my Challenge Queen title. My nickname at residential was always the “Challenge Queen” because I went above and beyond to fight back against the ED. This meant daily fear foods and completing difficult assignments, opening up more, etc. Ever since then I’ve tried to implement that same mentality. It has been seriously lacking this year. I have done pretty much the bare minimum (or less) and that’s it. I have no desire to try harder and make progress. This is frustrating and I feel stuck, but I also don’t want to make a change.
  • Relapse and treatment. Well I couldn’t exactly talk about the bad parts of this year if I skipped this whole part. I spent nearly all of 22 in varying stages of relapse. It was miserable and probably a large part of why the days were so very long as weeks and months whizzed by. This relapse was bad enough that I ended up in PHP for a month, something I swore I would NEVER do again. I still carry around a great deal of shame for everything that happened ED wise when I *should* have been better by now.
  • Isolation. This past year has brought way too many days with little to no human interaction minus what was absolutely necessary (think going to class and the dining hall). I sat in my room more often than not. If I did happen to do something socially, it was always support group or bible study or hanging out with treatment buddies. Most of the time i just felt too broken for anyone else.
  • Less time enjoying. I didn’t allow myself to sit back and relax with a book or go out on a photo shoot. My days were filled with monotony and not much to look forward to. I also got very stuck in the “work, work, work” mindset.
  • Giving up my passions. I’m pretty sure that my photo count for the year is in the hundreds (instead of thousands). I’ve also written way less than I had hoped/wanted to. Somewhere along the way, I just stopped caring about doing things I love.

22 wasn’t a bad year by any means. It certainly didn’t turn out as I’d hoped, but I have faith knowing that even the hard points are shaping me. I’ve learned and grown through it all, and that matters. I’m (mostly) ready to take on 23 and make it better than the last.

Part 2 is coming soon where I’ll explore my goals for the next year