The light at the end of the tunnel

Pulling myself out of this slip has been exhausting.  It's gotten harder over the past week or two, not because anything has necessarily changed, but because I'm getting burned out.  On the one hand, I can feel the subtle shifts happening; on the other hand, it's just the same old, same old.  It's one thing to push yourself to eat more for a short period because it's time-limited.  Eventually, the hell will be over.

I thought I would pull out of the slip much faster than I did.  Perhaps I misjudged exactly how many difficulties I was having. The other factor is that weight gain is going much more slowly even on more calories.  My life feels like a never ending assembly line of meal-snack-meal-snack-meal-snack.  Seriously?  Shoveling in this much food every day is exhausting.  Like I said, there has been progress, but there haven't been signs that the daily shit-ton of food is going to decrease anytime soon.

I had a bit of a meltdown about it the other day.  I was tired of all of the recovery work, tired of the food, tired of always feeling like the sick person.  I was about ready to throw in the towel.  But my therapist had reminded me of something: last week we had talked (briefly) that if I continued to progress weight- and behavior-wise, then we could talk about reintroducing some mild activity.

Apparently I have progressed, and now I am officially off exercise restrictions.  I get a few short walks during the week at this point.  The idea is to move up slowly so I don't just plunge back in head first and everything goes to pot. 

This event greatly improved my mood, and not primarily from the OMG--I can go back to exercise now! standpoint.  It was also that, for the first time, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I don't know when it will be, but sometime soon I can transition from refeeding mode back to recovery mode.

It's been hard, too, because I generally don't get much feedback on how I'm doing.  I would know if I lost weight, and I don't really like being patted on the back for gaining, either.  It makes me feel horribly guilty.  So it was hard for me to judge exactly where I was along the path, which only added to my frustrations.  I don't want or need to be praised for every bite, but a little feedback would have been helpful.

There's still tons of work to be done, even when this phase is over.  I know that getting back to where I was still doesn't make me where I ultimately need to be in recovery.  For now, though, I'll take what I can get.

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hm said...

Good job, Carrie. I'm glad for you that you get to have some exercise again- it's a great stress reliever. I honestly don't understand why it would ever be taken away completely, with the exception of extreme cases where the heart is very much in danger- b/c exercise within limits and reason can be a huge asset to the recovery process. It helps to clear out the mental noise- and bring the physical anxiety down a tad. I live for my three 20-min. exercise allotments!

Really, if you look at it like this, this relapse is an incredibly good experience for you. It's happening on your own turf, without people in your space constantly looking over your shoulder. YOU are shouldering the responsibility of getting this under control- you are being compliant with your treatment team- you are parenting you through this shit. It was probably inevitable that the ED would take a swing at you now that your life is different. But you are showing it who's boss. You rock. :)

Anonymous said...

My most recent walking the edge of relapse late winter/early spring has actually brought the most fruits of recovery that I have ever experienced. As hm said I am parenting myself. I am muddling through, actually I lot better than that I am thriving through. It took a couple months before the fog cleared. But boy has it. Making progress I have struggled to do since I entered treatment. It is HUGE work to do it on your own, on your terms persay. It's cranky and hard crappy work. I can say though standing on the first rays of the light at the end of the tunnel it is completely worth it! Completely!

Anonymous said...

i too am going to say good job and kudos and all that because it is freaking work. eating (literally) every two hours is enough to make ME mental. i've stopped writing about it on my blog because unless it's in metaphor i can't imagine anybody wanting to read how completely shitty i feel. but yeah, then the 'normal' effing weight gain and the not so normal never got an exercise restriction (i guess because when you're 41 they just don't give a shit anymore if you die)led to a 12 miles walk yesterday.

so do I THINK what you're doing is exhausting and an epic deal? hell yeah. and for you i have hope.

sending you much support and care...

Anonymous said...

It's not how many times you fall down, it's how many times you get back up!

Carrie, you're doing great. Keep working at it. The fact that it is not easy, not fun, and is not comfortable means you are doing it right. It also makes the results that much more sweet!

Take the exercise thing slowly. Enjoy moving (a little) and really try to listen to what your body wants. It will appreciate you being gentle with it.

hm said...

To azhe'n: Sounds like your ED is lying to you- it tells you you're not worth listening to and that you shouldn't express yourself- and the result of believing that lie is a 12 mile walk and the ED sucking back in! When Carrie expresses how shitty she feels, it ENCOURAGES you- you do not know how your self-expression might encourage someone else- expressing truth, even negative, frustrated truth, is healthy and good, and you DESERVE to feel able to do so. So go back to your blog and bitch about how shitty you feel. Get it out. Then keep fighting. You can do it. You are worth it. :)

Katie said...

Too right it's exhausting! It's worth it in the end, but that's not much help when the end seems so far away. It's probably small comfort, but all of your blog readers are cheering you on ;)

This is bad of me, but when I saw "the light at the end of the tunnel" appear in my reader this morning, I automatically added "was the light of an oncoming train" to it :P I'm certain this is not the case for you, my brain works on black humour apparently!

Jane said...

Keep up the good work Carrie - you are an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

how much more weight do you want to gain?!

Anonymous said...

I remember the days when I felt like all I did was eat...every couple hours it was meal, snack, meal, snack! But it will get better, although I found it took several months after I got to my IBW before my metabolism completely normalized again. As with the excersise, I would caution you to go very slow with it. As an inpatient I was only allowed to stand or walk for 15 min, twice daily, so after discharge it took a while for me to walk around walmart without getting tired! So listen to your body and gradually build up to a normal amount of activity. and congradulations on your progress so far!

Anonymous said...

I'm also sick and tired of eating and gaining weight so slowly, I mean if I have to eat all day long I'd like to go ahead and gain the weight and be done. But Nooo it has to come on so slowly and I know I could lose it so quickly. It is difficult to figure out if I want to gain or lose, I mean I want to be healthy but I don't always trust the professionals as to what healthy is. Is it really a higher weight? Is it more exercise (which they don't want me to do)? Is it eating a normal amount or overeating as it seems like I am doing now? Confusing to say the least...

Anonymous said...

to hm---

you're very kind. i will refrain from the self deprecation and just say thank you. really, really, really rough time right now. i appreciate that you care and the perspective is something i needed to probably hear. i'm a 'cleaner'---when things are nasty and horrible and gut wrenching i clean them up for everyone else and carry home the bags of filth.
i'm working on it, such as that is...
sorry Carrie for emoting all over your comment section.

thank you both for being so honest.

Carrie Arnold said...


What exactly do you mean when you ask "How much more weight do I want to gain"?

Honestly, I want to lose weight not gain it. What are you suggesting--because in that comment, I hear you think I'm rather fat and quite delusional for being on a weight gain plan.

hm said...

Carrie, it is a good thing you are trusting your professional health care team to decide how much weight to gain rather than listening to some silly, anonymous blog poster who a) knows nothing about you, your body, or what you need and b) apparently has too much time on their hands if they can sit around creeping other peoples' blogs and playing verbal shitball on them.

Anonymous said...

Weight restoration is not about wanting to gain weight and sometimes as Carrie has pointed out in posts not even about believing that weight gain is needed but rather on doing what is needed in order to get through the hell of being in relapse and under the grueling influence of ED. Clearly the poster that inquired about "how much more weight do you want to gain" is not familiar with this dynamic or illness. Carrie you are doing a superb job role modeling doing what is needed to move forward and take effective control of your life and kick ED to the curb while inspiring others that are seeking to do the same. Keep your eyes on the prize and focused on the incentives along the way i.e. 15 min intervals of exercise, freedom for any period of time from food/weight preoccupation, life and living!

Anonymous said...

okay so for me---this is for hm---the light at the end of the tunnel has most definitely felt like an ongoing train BUT i did go on and blog about it.
and there isn't one damn thing pretty about it. so be prepared because it's really bad.
you'll probably reconsider the whole worthy and deserving thing once you read it.

hm said...

To azhe'n: I read every single word. I stand by my view of you. You have had some INCREDIBLY toxic experiences. But YOU are not toxic. I'm GLAD you raged about it and got it out- b/c keeping that kind of shit inside can do a world of damage to you- we can damage ourselves far beyond what others have damaged for us- we take past abuse and we wrap up in it and revictimize ourselves for years and years. I GET the need for your ED. I get it b/c I need mine too. But I am trying to learn that engaging in my ED is self-abuse, not self-care, in spite of the temporary relief it brings me from my own past toxic experiences.

But now tell me, after blogging and getting all that out, are you just a little bit hungry? ;)

That's what I have found- that treating myself as worthy of a voice and expression and hurt and anger- getting it OUT- opens me up to a bit of food. Perhaps it will do that for you as well.

As for those others who are supposed to take care of you but failing miserably- fuck them. Rely on YOU. Fuck them and eat a good meal and take a warm bath and put on good smelling lotion- b/c you're worth that- your worth is not dependent upon them- and the validity of your rage is not dependent upon their acknowledgement. Fuck them- and take care of you. :)

Anonymous said...

thank you for lifting me up. i believe you. on some level i do believe you. i haven't eaten in two days so no, i'm not hungry. i'm gagging down some Ensure to keep up some intake. i haven't slept either except one hour and about a ten minute doze off. things have been more than a little bit nuts.
i think my rage is valid, so thank you for reinforcing that. i don't LET myself get that pissed off. but i have a friend who is listening intently (which is very hard for me to accept), calling often because she does care and she's trying to help resolve some of the things that deserve the level of indignation i'm feeling and she's just treating me like friends treat one another. it's not about gain for her, it's about my life, just because i'm alive and breathing and a halfway decent human being (though she would argue a higher level of decency). maybe this rage will catapult me into a shift of peace and i don't mean resigned about dying peace. maybe it will just let me really let go and mean it when i think 'fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, YOU'RE WRONG and we BOTH know it.' maybe it will let me cry for a while because i don't for myself. maybe something will heal.

thank you for not being afraid of my anger, for reading my shit, and for caring just because. today i can hang on a little longer because of you.

that is humanity. that is love. that is care. and i am grateful.

hm said...

azhe'n: Keep gagging down that Ensure. Gag down some oatmeal too if you can- maybe with some protein powder mixed in. The more you get in, the more chance you have at those tears that it sounds like you need to release for yourself. Anger is only scary when it's hidden in the dark- I'm really happy you were able to express and share. :)

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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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