End of year thoughts

As one year begins its inevitable slide into another, I start thinking about another year with the ED, another year still not better.  Yes, I have made a lot of progress this year, but there is still far to travel.

I remember thinking after I had been ill for about a year that one whole year had passed without me eating or drinking anything without fear.  Actually, at the time, I thought of it as one whole year obsessing about eating.  I didn't see the fear/anxiety connection at that point.  I remember thinking that one year was quite a long time, but I also didn't see any way out.  It was tremendously disheartening and depressing (I was in the hospital at the time), but I thought that's just the way things were going to be.

It's been a decade since that moment.  It's been 11 years since I've eaten something without calculating calories or second-guessing whether I "should" or "shouldn't" eat it (yes, I do realize that I need to update my profile- I must have last updated it around two years ago).  My meal plan helps--the rules provide a necessary structure.  But I still frequently ask myself "Do I really need this slice of cheese, this pat of butter, this extra gob of peanut butter?"  I have to remind myself that yes, I do need this, even if I don't want it.

One of my old therapists told me that I should get mad at how much time the eating disorder has stolen from me.  I looked at her and I said: but I let it take this much time from me.  I can speak at length about the fact that eating disorders are illnesses, not choices, and I still can't shake the feeling that my suffering is my own fault.  That if I were smarter or less stubborn, I wouldn't have become anorexic in the first place or had as much trouble pulling myself out.  It's an odd disconnect.  I don't blame myself for my anxiety or depression, although I can't remember not being anxious and depressed.  I do remember there was a time before anorexia, although I have no idea what that was like.

I usually get all horribly introspective twice a year: on my birthday in July and around New Year's.  It's sort of the major landmarks of the passage of time in my life.  Winter, summer; age, year.  I'm not despairing about my recovery, but I do start to hyper-analyze things.  No, it doesn't usually help, but then, I don't do it to feel better.  I just feel compelled somehow to take stock of my life over the past year.

And 2010 has, on the whole, been pretty good to me.  I fought for that good.  I fought hard.  I quit my first job for reasons totally unrelated to the eating disorder--never done that before.  I either got sick or sacked first.  I bought a townhouse, I started a new career, and succeeded fairly well at that career.

Still, in the dark hours of the night, I feel irreparably broken.  That my life may never be normal.  That I may forget that it's possible to eat a meal without scrutinizing every crumb.  That, ultimately, I'm damaged goods.

But we're all damaged.  That's part of being human.  We all have our baggage and our semi-healed wounds.  Those wounds become scars that fade but never completely, and still we put one foot in front of the other and get on with things.

That's what I wish for you in 2011: the fading of hurts, the learning from pain, and the getting on with life.

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EmilyH said...

Carrie, I wish for you continued strength and growth. By the next New Year, I hope to be in a better place with my ED. I have a feeling that 2011 holds a lot of ups and downs. Still, that's better than the false ups that ED gives me.


Cathy (UK) said...

I always think that New Year, and especially the accompanying 'resolutions' and celebrations are rather strange. How can the transition between 31 December and 1 January create huge change - in anything - e.g. our personality, our thinking style, our wishes...? Why are we 'supposed' to get excited about New Years Eve? To me it's very forced jolliness that actually makes me feel quite low mood! I am jolly when something makes me jolly; not because I am 'supposed' to be.

What I do wonder Carrie, is whether you are overly-introspective? I absolutely do NOT mean that in a negatively critical way, because I like your mind and it's not dissimilar to mine (actually very similar!). My personality and my AN were very intertwined; I recognised that a couple of years ago. What I was describing as my AN was actually my personality. 'A leopard cannot change its spots' - so we are told. I am obsessive, compulsive, perfectionistic, introverted. I love small details and analysing things in great detail. I did that with food. I did that with me. I did that with life in general.

You are a wonderful science writer; I read your articles with interest and enthusiasm. You have a lovely new home, to decorate in your own style that suits you and Aria. You have lots of people who admire, respect and like you - me included.

I wish you a very happy 2011 Carrie!

From Here to There. In Purple. said...

youve fought SO hard-- don't second guess or short change yourself, lady!

this past year has been spent getting to know myself better- accepting what i have no control over and changing what i do.

here's to another year of learning and growing!
wishing you a happy healthy and safe new years eve!

Anonymous said...

I am currently in ED recover and stumbled upon your blog when searching for support. I just wanted to say that your story in inspiring and although I haven't been a reader for long, I really appreciate you sharing your struggles. I wish you the best of luck in the coming year and applaude you for all the progress you've made in the past.
Happy New Year.

hm said...

What is "normal" anyway? Fuck normal. Normal people are borrrrring. It is the weathered and scarred people that have the most interesting stories, the learned listening ear, the patience that trials teach. I'd take a person with life experience over "normal" and ignorant any day. The small handful of people I've met in my life who claim to have relatively no struggles are blank, out of touch, and judgemental. And so freaking boring that sitting near them for more than 5 minutes makes me want to shoot myself in the head or start screeching like a chimp and throwing things at them just to get a freaking reaction.

Here's to a new year full of colorful struggles and solutions, problems and possibilities. Here's to being practiced enough at struggling to find creative coping mechanisms, to become even stronger, to take one step closer to depth and wholeness, to bond with the like-minded and support each other. Here's to being stubborn enough to fight for health in mind and body in spite of our struggles and scars. Here's to being abnormal, scarred, and incredibly strong.

ola said...

Simply THANK YOU for this blog. Thank you, thank you.
Your blog remains me often that anorexia IS a disease, not just my fault, shame and failure...
Keep fighting Carrie and have a healthy, successful, wonderful 2011with very as few dark hours and fears as possible!

Anonymous said...

"But we're all damaged. That's part of being human. We all have our baggage and our semi-healed wounds. Those wounds become scars that fade but never completely, and still we put one foot in front of the other and get on with things."

Yes, we are, it is life.

"That's what I wish for you in 2011: the fading of hurts, the learning from pain, and the getting on with life."

Love and hug dear one,

Angela E. Gambrel Lackey said...

Yes, being damaged is part of life. But it doesn't have to define you.

You have done so well and i am so proud of you. Don't look back!

My wish for you is continued recovery and health. I know you can do it.

Happy New Year!!!

scottrecovered said...

I just found your blog recently, and I just want to tell you how much I look up to your courage and strength in your fight with ED. You are simply amazing in every way possible :)

Wishing you a happy and healthy new year,


Mary B said...

This is beautiful and rings very true to me right now. December marks one year of recovery and yes, it feels like it has lasted an eon. I can also remember when I changed and began to scrutinize every calorie I touched, ate or even contemplated eating. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge and your experiences with AN.

Angela said...

Your thoughts mirror my own in so many ways. I blame myself for so many things...especially the eating disorder. I wish us all freedom and peace for this new year!

vizalto said...

First: you're my inspiration.

Second: personally I write a letters to myself. Starting when I was 12 I wrote a "Dear Me" note to my 18 year old self and it's been every two years since. Not quite the same concept, but since my birthday is so close to new years I really can relate to your annual troubles.

Time is so complicated.

joelle said...

i love your blog and always find myself nodding my head in agreement with so much of what you say but today's post in particular spoke to me. thank you for being such a strong brave woman and voice that the world so desperately needs

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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