Sunday, January 16, 2011

ED leftovers

I think that I am pretty far along in my recovery, but some old habits die hard. I have what I have come to think of as "ED Leftovers", or certain thoughts or behaviors that just pop up from time to time. I guess it makes sense, if you think about it. I mean, I was eating disordered for about 16 years. All of the little ways I have adapted in order to live my life with an eating disorder don't change overnight. Also, while I choose to tell myself healthy messages about myself and my body, some of the disordered thinking still lurks around my brain. I don't consciously entertain these thoughts, but some of them are tricky. They masquerade as normal.

One big one that sometimes trips me up is my tendancy to see my body as something that is completely subject to my will. The scenario is usually something like this: I have a hectic day, or a change of plans, and I decide that dinner will have to wait until 8:30 pm (instead of 5:30). I expect that even though the last thing I ate was lunch at 11:00, my body run just fine without food until 8:30 because that is what is most convenient to me. And we all know how this usually ends.

Such was the case Friday night. I had to take my daughter to Waterloo (1.5 hours) and then drive back (1.5 hours). I was planning to leave just after 4pm, and hit the drive through for Emma on the way out of town. I could have made an early dinner before we left, but I didn't want to do that because I was feeling lazy. When we went through the drive through, I didn't really want to get any food because nothing sounded good and what I really wanted to do was eat a huge bowl of popcorn for dinner when I got back that evening (ok if anyone wants to jump up my @ss about popcorn for dinner, leave a comment and I will explain how popcorn can be dinner. I just dont feel like going into it right now. Thats not the point of my story anyways). But I was thinking that I needed some "fuel" for the 3 hour drive ahead so I picked a small cafe mocha. I figured the combo of caffiene and sugar would be just the thing to keep me going.

I have to stop myself for a moment because as I'm typing this I'm thinking "hey, this doesn't sound that messed up! Don't alot of women in our culture operate like this? We shrug off our needs and try to patch ourselves up with the quick fix so we dont have to slow down and admit that we are not superwomen and we can't control everything. We grab a cup of coffee and call it dinner and head off to the next task or errand or meeting. Sad.

But you think, with my history, I would know better. Apparently not.

About 20 miles outside of Waterloo I started to get that crappy, jittery, anxious feeling that I get when I drink coffee on and empty stomach. But of course, I'm superhuman, and my body is completely under my control, so I press on. I drop Emma at her dad's house in Waterloo and start back toward Ames. The feeling gets worse, but I decide that I'm just anxious because I don't like to drive at night, and its snowing a bit. This is partly true, but I am also ignoring some pretty big signals that my body is sending me. I near a truck stop that is the only one for awhile and I briefly consider pulling over for a snack, but I don't because I really just want to get home.

30 minutes later I am starting to shake, and it's more than just anxiety. My muscles are trembling because they need fuel. I am having a hard time keeping my eyes focused on the road and staying alert. I am guessing that my blood sugar is a little low, and I eat an apple, because it's all I have on hand, but it doesnt help much. For a fruit, apples have a pretty marginal effect of blood sugar. I know I need to stop and get something to eat, but the next stop isn't for a few miles. And its a long, scary few miles, but I make it, and pull into the gas station. But not without driving on the wrong side of the frontage road, before the headlights of an oncoming semi snap me back to attention.

So anyways, I get to the gas station. I am pissed. I hate that I have to stop, because I am only about 30 miles from home. Even now, I am thinking "this is stupid. I could have made it. I'm just being a wuss.". But I go in, looking for a banana, which they don't have. I settle for juice, which I know will revive my blood sugar, and string cheese for a bit of protien. I make myself sit in my car and have the snack. I wish that I could eat and drive at the same time, but I know that I need to get feeling better before I get back on the road. I'm so mad at myself. Mad that I am sitting in the parking lot of the Flying J, having a "time out snacky time". I feel about 2 years old. Plus, I'm pissed that I had to drink JUICE (I have juice issues. More ED leftovers).

Then I think "you know, this is ok. I mean, you didn't manage your nutrition very well today, but you are doing what you need to do right now to get back on track. You're doing ok, kid.".

When I am done eating and feel better, I call Chris and explain my little pit stop and why I will be late so he doesnt worry, and I get back on the road. Pulling back on the interstate feels like night and day from when I left it. Just noticing how focused I am and how much better I feel makes me realize that bad shape I was in. It's kind of scary. For one thing, I can see! Not just in front of me, but my whole field of vision has opened up. Not to be corny but I was seriously, like, marvelling at the panorama! It made me wonder if my vision had been tunneling earlier. I just feel really greatful that I pulled over instead of just trying to push through.

I get home just fine, eat my delicious popcorn and watch some TV with Chris, but the whole event has left me feeling a bit shaky. I have to retrace my steps to figure out what went wrong. Ok, so maybe I didnt want to eat an early dinner, but I should have planned accordingly and brought a substantial snack with me. Eating doesn't alway have to be perfect, and it doesn't always have to be according to plan, it just has to happen. No more thinking I'm a superwoman who can live on caffiene and sugar.

AsI said earlier, I think that this situation is typical of the consequences of "ED leftover" thinking. But it could also be typical of our culture. Its a bit of a blurry line. I think, though, that as someone in recovery, I need to be extra super aware of stuff like this. Since I don't see a dietitian or follow a meal plan, I have alot of flexibility, which I love. But I gotta be smart. I have common sense about most things, but when it comes to food...well....I'm getting there. It's a learning proccess.

And that's ok.


I Hate to Weight said...

terrific post. thanks for the reminders. i rarely let myself get shakey anymore, but it does happen.

i, too, have had juice issues, but i'm getting better here. been juicing lemons for lemonade. ahhh

you did great. and your thinking is great.

thanks for these important reminders!

kris said...

I'm soo happy to hear 1.) that you pulled over and got something to eat so that you were safe, and 2.) that I'm not the only one out there who has done this and feels somewhat confused as to if it's right or wrong.

It's so easy to tell yourself that everyone else out there can skip dinner and have coffee and therefore it's ok. I find myself trying to rationalize things like that all the time (except, for me, it's usually lunch... not that different).

I think you really did the right thing though! And you're also not the only one who's found herself sitting in a parking lot eating something quick to make up for forgetting :)

steph said...

sGrowing up we ate popcorn EVERY Sunday night for dinner. It is a completely normal meal choice! :0)

Keely said...

I'm so glad you pulled over and got a snack. I do that a lot. Or I swing by the gift shop at work for a 3pm snack. I just NEED it. So that's what I do. :) I am so proud of you and love you so much. (hug) :)