If you're feeling emotionally vulnerable right now you may want to come back to this later.*** - See more at: http://www.myrecoveryfrombpd.com/2013/06/marooned-picture-of-borderline-imagined.html#sthash.rInoEmQ0.dpuf
If you're feeling emotionally vulnerable right now you may want to come back to this later.*** - See more at: http://www.myrecoveryfrombpd.com/2013/06/marooned-picture-of-borderline-imagined.html#sthash.rInoEmQ0.dpuf***Trigger Warning: If you're feeling particularly emotionally vulnerable right now, you may want to come back to this later.***
Making Sense of my Eating Disorder
I find it difficult to write about my struggles with disordered eating. I've tried to write about this so many times, and the words just never come, or they seem disjointed and rambling. Here's my attempt.
An eating disorder is a hard habit to kick. The internal dialogue and intrusive food thoughts can be paralyzing and confusing. Most frustrating to me is that I haven't even known what to call my particular struggles around food and body image (I'll talk more about body image in a later post).
I've been given all sorts of eating disorder diagnoses in the past. Throughout this blog, I've just been going with Eating Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), since it seemed broad and non-specific. I knew I didn't really fit the criteria for Anorexia, and I, until very recently, ignorantly assumed Bulimia was strictly about binging and purging. I've now learned that Bulimia is really defined as binging, then engaging in compensatory behaviors, which could encompass a whole host of behaviors, and concerns about body image. Most recently, I've been thinking that Bulimia may have been the most accurate diagnosis ever given to me in the past.
My eating habits and patterns have seemed to change throughout the years, however, when I really look at it, there has always been one constant, the "binge-compensate" element. It's really just the compensation method and intensity that's changed and fluctuated.
Whether I was fasting and restricting, purging, impulsively changing my diet altogether, coming up with new "food rules," or exercising excessively, I always was doing something in order to rectify those moments when I had lost all control and binged, usually on the foods I had demonized the most.
Period of Denial
Until relatively recently, within the past year, I was in denial that I still had an eating disorder. The binge-starve cycles were the first and most obvious external symptoms to others around me that signaled my greater psychological struggles. After my high school years, my eating disorder felt like it faded into the background, and I assumed it was gone. I even wondered if it was ever real in the first place.
Really, disordered eating was still very much active even though it wasn't obvious to me at the time. The tell-tale markers of BPD, self-harm, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, and tumultuous emotions and relationships, overshadowed the disordered eating patterns that were still very present as an attempt to cope through everything else as I began my college years.
For me, it was a bit easier to demonize the intense compensatory behaviors and try to get rid of those. I was all too familiar with their life-threatening consequences, after dealing with fainting and severe heart arrhthmia in high school. Still though, I didn't think anything of binging and then fasting/restricting for only the next day or two until I binged again. That seemed completely benign compared to my past behaviors.
I surmised that because I was no longer purging or fasting for 3 days or more at a time, it was gone. I told others and myself that I no longer struggled with an eating disorder, that it was just a blip on the radar. In actuality, it was just that my cycles were happening a lot faster and with less intense compensatory behaviors than before and with more frequent binging.
Accepting & Addressing my Eating Disorder
I know and accept now that I do have an eating disorder. I've fought against that during my time with this DBT program, and now it's just too obvious to keep pushing away or minimizing. Whether it's technically EDNOS, Bulimia, or something else altogether really makes little difference right now. They're just labels, and labels change and keep changing. In May, the new DSM-V was released along with a whole new slew of labels for disordered eating.
A quick story about labels...
I often tell people about my past denial that I had BPD. I got caught up in the label, and I refused the label. I didn't want to be "a borderline" with all the connotations and stigma attached to it. When it came down to it though, I was able to look at those criteria, and nearly all of them described my struggles in some way. And you know what? If those criteria had been lumped together and called Bob, then I'd have Bob. They just happen to be called borderline personality disorder. For now...
What's much more important than the label is that I am becoming more conscious and aware of my eating patterns and tendencies that cause me harm. Through knowing those, I can build a roadmap towards recovery, just as I have done with BPD.
I'm starting to dismantle my resistance towards addressing these behaviors. They seemed like the only thing I had left in terms of quick-fix coping. I'm still struggling with the idea of a meal plan, though I am starting to keep a food journal. I also have been trying to refrain from added sugars, as nearly all of my "binge foods" are heavily sugar-laden.
Though, as with anything like this, once you start poking and prodding at it, it sometimes gets worse before it gets better. I'm struggling right now. I was doing all right with the new changes for about a week or so, until I gave in and had a binge again. Since that binge last Thursday, I've been stuck in another binge-starve cycle. The intrusive food thoughts are constant.
So what am I doing now?
I'm trying to look at myself with some self-compassion. I'm using thought defusion to try to get some distance between me and these obsessive food thoughts. I'm keeping myself away from the scale and obsessing about mere numbers. I'm journaling my meals again, even if they were skipped, so that I'm holding myself a bit more accountable to my actions. I'm prioritizing my interpersonal goals so that my eating habits don't hold me back from fully participating in my relationships. I'm self-soothing, and trying to be mindful of both my emotions and body sensations.
I am having a lot of "shoulds" go through my mind right now around the idea of using opposite action to eat. It seems hugely daunting. I want to, and yet I feel like I just can't.
I'm confident that at some point today I'll be able to use that opposite action. Maybe tomorrow I can start having more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day.
For now though, I'm just going to try to gently hold myself with some love and kindness. This is hard stuff, and I know I'm going to get through it.
Christi Nielsen via photopin cc