I drank an Ensure tonight. I wasn’t forced. I didn’t want to. I easily could have avoided it. But I didn’t.
I always equated Ensures and supplementation in general as a punishment or sign of failure before. Truthfully, that’s exactly how Forest View used it. If you needed supplementation, you did something bad to receive it. Because of this, I rebelled and refused to drink them every single time. This has carried over, even up until tonight. I would avoid using supplements when I really needed it. Each time I actually forced myself to drink one it had a “well I won’t do that again” and “I am terrible now” effect. I felt disgusted enough by the Ensure that I would attempt to “do better” for a while.
For obvious reasons, that view of supplementation hasn’t helped me. I never felt I could actually reach for an Ensure without extreme shame and fear. Admitting I had to drink and Ensure to my therapist, friends, dietitian, and support people was almost always tear provoking. Supplementing meant I had somehow failed at recovery. I felt worse about myself if I used one than if I had just restricted.
Tonight was the end of that. I’ve been having a hard time eating the past week or so due to a basically nonexistent appetite. Although I’ve managed pretty well so far, today was just too much. ED thoughts took over and I just knew I wouldn’t be able to give my body all it needs through food. I made my decision to supplement and drank my Ensure.
There’s been a big shift in my thinking tonight. Sometimes I may have to use supplementation, and that is okay. Its another way to get calories in. Sure, its not ideal or anything, but if I can’t handle the food its better to have Ensure than nothing. Choosing to continue nourishing my body is the bravest thing I can do.
One of the ED’s rules since the very beginning is that I have to eat where I can’t see other people watching me. I was so consumed with the thought that other people were judging me solely on what I ate or didn’t eat. Before I knew I had an eating disorder and prior to even some of the restriction I was already living by it. I was constantly eating facing walls whenever I was alone. When with others I would sit where the least number of people possible could watch me eat, but in general eating with people tends to distract me enough to calm the fear some.
Last year, not getting to sit in one of my preferred spots for lunch meant either skipping it all-together or eating in the bathroom stall. My fear was that real. This fall, I completely freaked out in the dining halls. I had to eat alone every lunch and if I couldn’t sit where I wouldn’t see people watching me, eating was exponentially harder. I sometimes didn’t take more than a bite. My fear of being watched grew so severe during that first semester.
At CFD, I came to sit down at snack one night and was blindsided by this fear once again. We had a table where one side faced a wall and the other the foyer. Either way I was facing the same amount of people, but when I was switched to face the foyer it sent me almost into a panic attack. It was like I was back in that dining hall with everyone staring at me. It was similar to some other flashback-like experiences I’ve had and I just froze. That was one of the only times I broke down so much at the table.
I’ve really tried to challenge myself since being back at school in so many ways. I hadn’t even thought of breaking this rule until today. There have been days where I moved a tiny bit out of my comfort zone and forced myself to sit facing a few people, but other than that its strictly facing a wall or empty section.
Today I chose a booth towards the back. I like the booths because I easily can calm my fear and face away from everyone. At the last second, I realized that I wanted to break out of my comfort zone. I had to sit facing everyone on that side of the dining room. It brought back all of the anxiety and negative thoughts about people watching me eat, but I was able to push past them. It slowed my eating some without actually stopping me from getting the nourishment I needed. I even had some ice cream which could never happen before. Yes, it was scary and challenging and uncomfortable, but I got through it. Now, the “you must eat facing away from other people” rule has a little less hold on me.
Another day, another little step against the ED!
Two months ago, I sat in residential with the assignment of writing my goals for treatment and the future. I had so many hopes. I would have been absolutely elated if only a few ever came true.
College was something I so desperately wanted to change. I lost all of my fall semester to the eating disorder. I didn’t get to build friendships, learn deeply, or simply have fun. My days were centered around food, restriction, deceit, and exercise. I honestly don’t know how I managed to go as long as I did. My hope was to one day experience college for real. I dreamed of staying up with friends late at night, engaging fully in my learning, enjoying random food, and being totally carefree.
Well, tonight and Saturday night I checked off part of that dream. Saturday I went skating with the floor at 10 pm and then out to get donuts and hot chocolate(!!!!!!!). Tonight, my friend and I spent our bonus bucks and drank hot chocolate together.
Never did I think back at CFD that I would have been able to do this by now. I allowed myself to enjoy the time with friends. I didn’t freak out even a little over the spontaneous food (and one fear food). Just like my other friends that were with me, I ate and drank and soaked up every moment.
Sometimes progress in recovery is big, but often its the little things. Warm drinks, good company, and a little hot chocolate with sprinkles.