My Own Program

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One of the tricky things about eating disorders is that it is not simply a matter of giving up a substance. We need to eat, so our patterns can get triggered at least a few times each day.  There is more to recovering from alcohol than giving up drinking, yet at least that part of it is clear. Not so clear for a person with an eating disorder. It is complex, and I believe the “program” may be different for each individual.

Over time, I have developed a program for my own healing and written it on a page of my journal. The ideas were inspired partly by some of my favorite spiritual/personal growth writers, and from 12-step literature. I notice that I included very little about food! I think this is because I want my life to be guided by values and thoughts other than food.

(I have also created a unique food plan for myself with the initial guidance of an ED nutritionist, and I will write about that in a later post.)

So, the following is my program!

I trust my higher self and I am my own loving ally.

Nourish self * allow myself to receive care and sustenance

Stride and glide through the air, in nature * ~ ~ (walk and ride bikes, peacefully!)

bike!

Tune in to feelings, safely express, and turn them over to God (higher source)

Ground and center, breathe ~

Wait until hungry (not starving), savor, eat until satisfied, move on! 

Use my food plan as a guide also when necessary (anytime I’m below healthy weight or acting on my patterns)

Be “LOVE DRIVEN” (rather than food driven.)

Ask for support, and offer support to others.  (try to set a time to talk with someone at least once per week).

Dine in company * It supports me to have a relaxed, social atmosphere (especially a small gathering with people I am comfortable with) and to be around “normal eaters”!

Turn it all over to God daily ~ 

“Seek, and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be open, ask and it shall be given and the love come a-tumblin’ down.”

“Improve conscious contact with God” (some form of meditation) and ~

God is Love

Write in journal ~ daily is good, but we are not going for perfection!

Listen to inner guidance, and follow ~

Simple affirmation ~ deep within, my soul knows what I need to be well. I am well and whole.

Be Kind, Be Kind, Be Kind ~

So that is my healing and wholeness program! I am finding that it is truly helpful to go back and read some of it each day, and especially take time to contemplate a few parts.

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I’m Good at Insights…

 

I stopped seeing my ED therapist a while ago.  I learned so much from the sessions about how my own patterns worked, and received valuable advice. Now it is time to apply what I learned. I told him once, “I’m very good at insights…” (revelations, understanding…) and yet I hadn’t gained any weight in 5 months!

I am 55 years old, and I think I have gained some wisdom over the years. Yet I’m still recovering from this stubborn disorder. I did eventually gain some weight while in therapy, and then lost it again after our home urned down and during the ensuing stressful time. I decided to start this blog as part of my own healing process, and to hopefully help others in some way.

I am grateful and delighted to find I am also learning and being reminded of important truths from reading other bloggers. For example, that eating disorders are actually a mental illness. Recovery is possible, but not easy! For those of us with anorexia, (and some related disorders) gaining weight is very difficult, both physically and emotionally.

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Also, though mindfulness and tuning in to our bodies is a wonderful practice, with anorexia, a healthy weight needs to be reached in order to truly recover. For one thing, our set-point has been thrown off for so long, it does not seem to work to simply “listen and trust our bodies.” In fact, we have to “over-ride” what our bodies and emotions are telling us in order to gain weight. My therapist used to say “You are going to be uncomfortable.”

I don’t want to give up on savoring my food, or enjoying healthful cooking, or tuning into to what I need and want. But Iwish to add to these things a strong intention to gain a healthy amount of weight within a reasonable time. I feel that this will not only be essential for my recovery, but it is likely the best thing I can do to be a good example for my loved ones dealing with their own issues.

So, I have set myself a specific weight goal! If I don’t meet it by my set time, I will return to my therapist. I’m not sure how I’m going to accomplish this, but I do feel intentions are powerful. Stresses and worries in life can trip me up, and the eating patterns seem to be my fall-back for coping.

I want to take it a day at a time, and use all that I’ve learned. I think the most important single thing for me is turning it all over daily (hourly?) to a higher source.

Some other things that seem to help:

*Talking to a supportive friend weekly. *Receiving massage or foot rubs (an ED nutritionist told me massage helps with weight gain for anorexics!) Even stretching out, relaxing, and rubbing my own feet can help. *Tuning into emotions that come up and writing them in a journal. *Taking peaceful walks in nature, really relaxes me ~ not over-doing, yet long enough to set my mind free…

I do love reading inspirational books.  One of my favorites is Dying to Be Me, My journey from cancer, to near death to true healing, by Anita Moorjani. I love the part where she compares her inner self to a  kaleidoscope. It is always changing, yet every image is beautiful. Sometimes we can be so hard on ourselves. It helps me to remember, that as I learn, my soul is still beautiful in each part of the process.

I wish to allow myself to feel my emotions, and yet pay attention to all that is good and joyful, and embrace the adventure ~

Metamorphosis

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I have to share the subtle transformation that occurred this week. For the first time since becoming entangled in anorexia, I have glimpsed being free from it!

In my last post, I wrote about turning the whole issue over to my higher source. I surrendered, and listened, doing my best to follow my intuition. I also remembered something I read ~ if you have a spiritual goal and work towards your intention, it will come true. It may not always appear the way we imagine, but it does unfold in miraculous and surprising ways.

So I thought about framing my wish to overcome my eating issues as a spiritual goal. I realized I want to be healthy so I can fulfill my goals and offer my gifts in this life. And, I especially wish to set an example and be healthy and present for my loved ones.

I considered that even though I’m “turning it over” it is also important to keep my supports in place, such as following my food plan and talking to a supportive friend weekly about my progress. (Trust in God, and tie your camel.)  🙂

I was inspired by a young women’s post about her motivation to stay in recovery from her eating disorder so her cherished, departed grandparent wouldn’t worry about her. I thought of my mom who died several years ago and I let myself feel how she loved me completely, and would want me to be healthy and whole.

This somehow led me to an insight that my husband loves me completely, regardless of whether I put on some weight…I don’t have to worry about securing his love anymore. I have known this in my mind for quite some time, but somehow due to my old patterns, the insecurity persisted. All of a sudden I felt a release.

And then the transformation unfolded ~ I could sense a freedom from this inner critical voice. I “got” what my therapist had said about not being driven by food. For instance ~ I want to eat something, so I eat it. (What a concept!) No worrying about what it will do to me, such as putting on weight, affecting my health, and so on….

What a sense of contentment and acceptance.

Now, I can see that having said this, the patterns still pop up, seemingly out of habit. Since  it’s been with me for so long,  at times the pattern may be re-triggered by stress. It is good to know, that as I’m relaxing, and spreading my wings, I can still use my food plan as a guideline for support. And I definitely want to continue to nurture my self in the ways I have found to be helpful, such as talking, meditating/walking in nature, doing things that bring joy, and tuning in to feelings through journaling.

I will actively engage in these life-affirming things, including  writing this blog, to ground myself in this new freedom ~ so I can fly.

Food Driven or Love Driven?

I want to start by saying that I am not a therapist, but only someone who has struggled with an eating disorder. For anyone who has a disorder, it is important to see a knowledgable therapist (as I have also done). My eating disorder may not be as extreme as some, and yet it has allowed me to have compassion for others going through this. I believe we are all individuals and our patterns are unique. Yet, by sharing our experiences, we can find some comfort and connection.

So, first I want to explain how my unique disorder acts. I’m not proud…but here it is. I do have feelings of shame in my body, especially in my stomach and thighs. As many times as I may send loving thoughts to these areas, self-consciousness and shame seem to be lodged there.

Though I know in my mind that I still wish to gain a few pounds, I do like the feeling of being thin. I seem to feel “safer” and more comfortable and happy with myself when I’m thinner. When my pattern is in action, however, and I lose weight, at some point it feels awful because I get more anxious and low energy, and I don’t like the way I look when I’m too skinny either. (Can’t win! :0 )

Having said that, though ~ I actually love to eat. This may be different from some others with a restrictive pattern. I enjoy food. Another aspect that may be different is that I like the feeling of being hungry. I would even say I crave it or am addicted to it, so this is part of the disorder. I like being hungry because it makes me feel lighter than being full, and also because it means I can look forward to eating again! Hmmm~

So ~ when I am eating a meal, I have this restrictive tendency that stops me at a certain point, and it is often rationalized as – “I need to stop now so I’ll be hungry for the next meal or snack.”

I eat small meals often, which many say is healthy, and I eat a variety of healthful foods, and I exercise moderately. However, as my amounts tend to fall a bit short due to the pattern, I tend to continually be slowly losing weight.

Eating less is also my fall back pattern ~ for instance, if I’m under stress, I eat less. If I’m not feeling well physically, I eat less. If I hear about a new healthful food plan, or a food to avoid, I often try it, and end up eating less. Then, I inevitably lose weight, and the pattern kicks in more. It is always difficult to gain the weight back.

This is how I came to have thinning bones and got down to around 95 lbs at one point, which is certainly in the anorexic category for a 5’5” frame.

With the help of a nutritionist who specializes in ED, and a couple of supportive friends, I gained 7 lbs or so. I still wanted to gain a few more as well as truly overcome the pattern so I went to see an ED therapist. When he heard how much I had recovered without a therapist he was amazed. He said “That never happens!”

At one point in our therapy, he was talking about goals for my weight. He said “In one sense, it’s not about the numbers, but if you’re sitting in your chair, it is about the numbers.” In other words, with anorexia, it is critical to actually keep your weight up to a certain level in order to recover.

I said “Well, I understand that, but I just want to be healthy!” He said these very important words: “The most important thing is to not be food driven. Can you actually imagine what it would be like to not think much about food at all? Just eat what you want and not obsess on it?” I thought – Wow. Hard to imagine. He said “Maybe your life could be driven by something else instead? Perhaps Love? Or faith, or charity?”

I was stunned. I thought my values revolved around living in a loving way, and perhaps I did live that way to an extent. But how could I when my mind was so preoccupied with food? Yes, I want to live a love-driven life.

Discovering how to do that is my unfolding journey, and will be the focus of my next blog.