Thursday, January 20, 2011

strength in recovery

It has been a REALLY bad week body-image wise. I think the Lexapro is making me gain weight. I am not eating any more than usual but over the past several weeks my weight has been creeping up. Not a huge spike, but enough to make my "healthy" jeans tight. I HATE it when my jeans feel tight. It's hard to ignore, ugh.
So that, plus some emotional/life issues I have been dealing with, have really been wearing on my resolve to stay in recovery. I find myself more and more entertaining thoughts about restricting and losing weight. Like, for instance, tonight I had the urge to skip the rice at dinner. I have that urge often, to skip the starch. It usually shows up under the guise of "healthier eating", but in reality I know that I need carbs. I need them for energy. My brain needs them to function.
But then I look at my body, my hips spilling out of my jeans, and I think "I don't need food. I could live off myself for months." Which is not exactly true, but it is hard for me to justify eating when I weigh this much.
Emotionally, I miss the numbness of the eating disorder. I miss how all my problems kind of dissolved around the one problem: my weight. I miss the safe feeling I got from losing weight.

But of course we know that that is all just an illusion.
So what have I been doing?

I don't restrict. I don't skip the starch. Even when the depression and anxiety has flat out killed my appetite, and the smell of food is grossing me out, I sit down at the table with my family and eat a balanced meal. And its hard. Its so hard. It reminds me of being in the middle of a marathon, and you're exhausted, and everything in you wants to lie down and quit. But you keep going, one foot in front of the other. One bite at a time.
I am in recovery by sheer force of will. And despite all the complaining I'm doing here, I feel good. Strong. I was reflecting today on how much stronger I am now than I used to be. I used to run back to the ED as soon as the going got rough, or the jeans got tight. As soon as recovery stopped being a novelty and started feeling like work. But these days, the mastery I have over the ed and the work it took to get here and stay here makes me feel strong, and that feels good.

The word "strong" means something different to me than it did 5 or 10 years ago. Back then, in the grip of the ED, I thought starving would make me strong. If I got hungry, or wanted to skip the last lap around the track, ED would whisper in my ear "come on strong!". If I gave in and ate, or if I stepped on the scale and didn't lose, I would think "you are weak. WEAK!". I am also reminded of a saying I have seen on the pro-ana sites I used to look at: "be strong...starve on!".
But that's just an illusion. The truth is, it would be far easier to go back to starving myself than it is to stay in recovery. I am not weak for eating. Weakness would be skipping dinner because "I'm just not up for it tonight". I excercise more strength on a daily basis now than I ever did as an anorexic.

I'm not saying all this to brag. I really just wanted to share this to remind us all what real strength is. If anyone reading this is in that place where ED is telling you you're weak for eating, or weak for gaining weight, or listening to your treatment team, I want to remind you that Ed is full of crap, so don't listen.

Be strong.


Lisa said...

ED is full of crap but beyond that, I have heard and my psych today told me that lexapro was basically the highest SSRI with the side effects of weight it truly coul be your meds. Talk to your doc.



Liz said...

Thank you for this post! The ED is so full of crap, and I constantly need to be reminded of this.

I'm at that place where the ED is calling to me. I know that it would be far easier to go back to restricting than to continue on in the frustrating process of recovery.

But I know that I have to do this and that it will be worth it in the end. The challenge right now is to find a new behavior to replace my old self-harm routine. I agree that its hard not to have that outlet for our emotions.

Stay strong! =]

just breathe said...

Wow, this was really encouraging to read. I am going through such a rough time with ED. It's so hard to hear my voice, when all I hear is the ED voice. I really loved reading this post and it really spoke to me and got throught to me. So thank you for your honesty and your courage. :)

bananas said...

You are inspiring, seriously. Thank you.

Zena said...

you have no idea how much I need this right are so amazing, thankyou sweets

kris said...

Thank-you for this reminder!! It's always good to be reminded by someone else.

I hope that your week has been off to a good start :)

bananas said...

RE: Lexapro

I've been told by my psychiatrist that Lexapro (being one of the newer SSRIs out there) is "cleaner" than a lot of other meds. I don't believe that it has any higher rate of weight gain. If anything, just stay far far away from Paxil.