I've been feeling rather disconnected from things, almost as if there's a pane of glass between me and the rest of the world. I think the grim slog through recovery and meal after meal after snack is taking its toll. Plus, I think I'm already starting to sense the change in seasons, with the cloudy, rainy weather where we are combined with the shorter days. It just has me in a funk.

With work, I had a really busy week or two that's been followed by a really insanely slow week. This always makes me anxious. I like to stay busy. I do much better mentally if I'm solidly busy. Not so busy that I start to panic about whether I can manage things or get them done, but also enough so that I don't have lots of extra time to start and think about finances, about how everyone else's career seems to be going more smoothly than mine, etc, etc, etc.

It's sort of like how dogs need chew toys or else they eat the furniture. Dogs are going to chew on things, so they may as well do it on something non-damaging. My brain is the same way. It's going to be churning and thinking regardless, so it's much better if it's thinking about something productive (career stuff) than non-productive (senseless worries about money). When I'm focused on my goals, I don't have time to engage in the compare-and-despair routine.

With all of this--recovery exhaustion and increased anxiety--I've sort of found myself engaging with others less and less. You probably noticed that the frequency of blog posts has gone down. Some of it is that I am too tired to write, or I don't feel I have anything to say.  And I just care less about being around other people.  It's a LOT of effort for me to be social, so unless I push myself, I start to isolate. If being social didn't help me so much, it would probably be a lot easier.

Then, when I am out, it feels hard to relate to other people. Their issues are so different from mine: kids, husbands, and other things with which I have zero experience.  What stresses me out is so different, and it makes me feel more than a bit alienated. I mean, I'm 31 and still looking for a gold star when I eat cake. Kids? I can't imagine...

Hence the disconnect. Sometimes I feel that it's easier to disconnect from everyone than to try and connect and still feel that something's missing.  And there are days when I almost don't feel I have the energy to make the effort.

I'm not depressed, I don't think. I function. My mood is generally not all that bad. There's definitely a dip from normal, but nothing like I'm going off the rails. I'm (mostly) coping.  I just still get so tired sometimes of how hard it is to put one foot in front of the other.

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Amanda said...

I read your blog frequently, but I have never commented before. I have rather severe social anxiety. However, I felt that I just had to tell you that you completely described my state of mind as of late. I feel very alone in my little "bubble," but it is nice to know that I am not alone (though I wish you did not have to experience these horrible feelings). This strange disconnect I have been feeling has really been getting to me. I can totally relate to all of your posts, and they help me get through this and my struggles with recovery. Thank you so much.

hm said...

:( Sorry you're feeling disconnected. I get that. Isolation is my default too- I think if that is one's default, one can find all the reasons in the world to support it. Sometimes I feel like, socially, life would be so much easier if I could lock all doors and windows and only ever talk to my therapist- that's nice and safe, b/c it only lasts an hour in a completely controlled environment that has both an on switch (beginning of the therapeutic hour) and an off switch (end of hour). Real relationships are so much more time-consuming, complex, unpredictable, tiring.

BUT, they are sustenance for being human, just like food. Relating keeps us healthy. Sometimes it feels like dragging my body through molasses to type a hello when I'm in isolation mode- and sometimes I find, after doing so, that all that molasses is really stress, anxiety, and feelings that I've been ignoring. I have to LOOK at all that shit if I'm going to see past it to another person. Bleh.

Cathy (UK) said...

I'm sorry you feel disconnected at present Carrie; I have been there many a time so I know how it feels. I do hope you feel better soon...

It helps to NOT compare oneself to others. If I compare myself to other women of my age (which includes long-time friends on Facebook) I feel I have achieved nothing relative to them. But I simply don't feel I could have coped with having children, even though I sometimes think it would have been nice to be a mother.

None of us chose to have EDs. But we have to choose to try to keep well. And if by keeping well we miss out on some of the things others engage in and enjoy, then so be it.

Feel better soon! xx

Katie said...

I relate to this a lot. My biggest trigger for feeling low and isolated is if I spend too much time by myself. Have you got enough time scheduled in for seeing friends or keeping up with your hobbies? I know when I feel all kind of disconnected and anxious I don't want to see anyone, and worry that I'd be rubbish company if I did, but it helps me a lot to stay in regular contact with friends, and have a few hours a week when I'm doing nothing more productive than drinking tequila and giggling (erm, again, not on my own! Not switching anorexia for alcoholism here :P ). Socialising makes recovery seem more worthwhile too, because I know full well that when I'm restricting or self harming a lot I can't function around people, and those little moment when I'm actually rather happy disappear altogether. I'm not a hugely sociable person and I need time alone, but I do need other people too.

Anyway, you're not alone with this. It's exhausting having to police yourself all the time. The worst thing is that the effort is needed the most when you are feeling most vulnerable. Not very helpful really!

Jeannette said...

Janet Frame describes this isolated feeling so vividly in her book Faces in the Water that I had to stop reading it - her metaphor is the feeling of being on an ice floe with huge gaps of dark water between oneself and everyone else. Sometimes I think I am only beginning to realize how much anxiety I live with and what living with it has led me to do (or not do) in my life.... One thing I have learned not to do is worry about other people. Scratch the surface glitz of most people's lives and you will find all is not as it gets presented to the world. Oh, and that if you feel tired, then rest. Rest and retreat and when you've rested enough see what happens. (Make an event of it even: tell people you are Taking to Your Bed.) I like the way you described that syndrome: compare-and-despair. So true! Take care and keep posting!

Bailey said...

I feel this exact same way. I don't think I ever noticed how isolative I am until I started college. Everyone here wants to go out and do things all the time and they are so talkative and sociable, and I dread situations where I have to be with a lot of people and pretend I'm having fun. I've been this way my whole life, not just in recovery. So when you add in recovery from an eating disorder, it really makes me tired just thinking about it. But keep going and writing. You are an inspiration to many.

Amber Rochelle said...

You've pretty much stated exactly how I'm feeling at the moment. I'm 32, and having had an ED since the age of 9 find it VERY difficult to relate to or even make small talk with people my age, as the stressors and major life events are so different. Thank you for putting into words what I could not figure out how to explain.

Anonymous said...

I am totally like that with my mind. I really need to stay focused on productive things, or veer off in the wrong direction. It is hard to manage, but I really think it can be something good, when we focus it on the right means. the struggle is learning to do that...

Have a great friday!


Claire said...

I too need time alone sometimes, as an introvert, but I also enjoy going out with friends occasionally. Once every 2 months there is a pub event that I enjoy attending with my 2 closest friends, I wouldn’t normally go otherwise. I was very lonely before I joined Facebook a few years ago, I don’t have a huge amount of Fb friends, but enough so I can keep in touch when I want to. When I’m not feeling well which is at least once a week, I have Crohn’s and histamine intolerance, I don’t go online but my friends know that I may not be feeling well (as I have told them I feel like that sometimes) and so they understand.

I do try and make the effort to connect in some small way when I am feeling OK, as it is important to keep that connection, or it becomes harder the longer you leave it. Just a ‘like’ or a short comment, or a short text saying ‘hi, how are you’. I go on Fb every day or once every 2 days and when I do, it’s for about 10-15 mins but it’s enough to ‘be in the world’ so they know you’re around, and it’s nice to get invites from people to see them etc.

It is hard relating to friends who have children, it gets easier as their children grow up and go to school. I am 34 and have decided that although I like children, I don’t want them enough to have them. It is a lot of work and it’s hard enough just looking after myself and my cat. New mums are very focussed on their babies and find it hard to think of anything else, it is quite a narrow focus. I have been accused of being ‘selfish’ by 2 supposed friends with children, just because I do not have children and do not want to look after other people’s children (e.g. to babysit etc). I would never get accused of that if I were a man.

I know it is too much responsibility for me and takes up too much energy that I don’t have and I know my limits. I don’t think that is a bad thing, just being realistic. I don’t get accused of that by my other friends who don’t have children/ accept my situation. I think I’m a pretty good friend otherwise, when I meet up with my friends, I am 100% ‘there’, or at least 80%.

Jessie said...

Hey Carrie. I know what it feels like to feel so exhausted from recovery, and then you've got to deal with real life crap too. I've just had my first week of high school, (Freshman year, wooh!) and I'm so tired,and eating hasdefinitely been harder. I've slipped up a couple times. But you know the one thing that keeps me going? Every year, for my birthday, I would ask my mom to make a lemon meringue pie. This year I didn't, for two reasons. One, I was in the hospital and they control EVERYTHING you eat. Two, I wouldn't have asked for it even if I wasn't in the hospital. Me? ASK for food? What planet are you living on? But next year, I want my pie, dammit! Find your pie. Find your reason for recovery. Just the thought that there's a chance I might not have to live like this anymore gets me through it sometimes. It's often the only thing. That and my pie.
I do have depression, and it is worse in the winter. Have you thought about Seasonal Affective Disorder? (S.A.D. Ironic, huh?) It's a type of depression that strikes in the winter, and lifts when spring and sun comesaround. If it's been cloudy lately, and colder weather is starting, it could be affecting you. It's more common in the Northern hemisphere.
I know it's hard, but I think it's worth it. Actually, you probably don't remember, but you told me that. I e-mailed you and asked if recovery was worth it, and you said you'd never met anyone who'd recovered and said their eating disorder was better. I know you can do it. Pay attention to your feelings, and if they might be better on sunny days. And be social! I know that at times it's like "I don't want to see anyone, I REALLY don't want to see anyone, GO AWAY!" But at the end of it, I almost always feel better. Try some breathing exercises to help you relax when you start to worry. You can do it. I know you can.

K said...

It's interesting how we all handle the seasons differently. I wonder if it has to do with our birth months (I realize how new age that makes me sound)

As for feeling incredibly disconnected, I fully understand. I find, personally, that if I keep on trying to engage myself it makes me incredibly anxious for awhile, but I get out of the funk sooner... It's probably one of those things that differs for everyone though - so sorry I'm not of much help - other than to say that I relate.

I hope the fog dissipates soon for you hon!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your post today. I have found it difficult to find words to describe how I feel and you sum it up almost perfectly word for word.

Telstaar said...

I think I understand a fair bit of what you're saying. I think sometimes its hard when you realise that you STILL have a wretched illness that has potentially interfered with life and made it all that much harder.

I'm 30 and I also struggle with the fact that I'm not in a relationship, I'm only just getting things together therapy wise, I'm still studying and can't work and do therapy and everything I want.... I half want to be social but the energy involved means I usually just hide away. Sometimes, it all feels never ending.... I guess if we continue to engage in the eating disorder, it is, but that's why we fight it so that we CAN have more than this, so that we can CHOOSE to have a quiet week and not let the anxiety overwhelm us, or we can choose to be social or not....we do it so we have choice and thus have a life again. But the meantime is hard and its definitely when things are just slowly progressing and there are not huge jumps in change that life is hard to continue.

I will just say this though, you are a thoroughly determined young woman with much to offer many people. Your struggle is worth it. I dont' know what your future holds, but I know that already you make a difference. Never let go of that, you are more than recovery, more than an eating disorder, more than anxiety, more than your job.... you are Carrie who as a whole person has a unique view on life that can help many other people by just being you. Don't give up!


Vanessa said...

I, too, feel disconnected all the time. I'm in college, and other people's concerns (relationship problems, failing grades, boredom b/c it's too quiet) just don't bother me. My problems, like the ones you've also described, just don't bother them.
What helps me feel better when I feel so very different is knowing that it's fact I'm not alone. I may only see myself struggling, but you're living proof there're other people out there like us feeling "different".
Know too, that you personally help so many of us! Recognize that you pull so many of us readers out of our "funk" each day.

Bev Mattocks Osborne said...

I identify with this. My son is isolating himself socially now he's returned to school and all the social anxieties which that brings. It's difficult to know what to do... xx

mtucker74 said...

This is my first time reading your blog all I can say is stay strong and remember when you feel alone there is others out there that is going through some of the same things and just also to find strength from knowing that you are not alone fighting. Be strong I follow a moto that i once heard from bruce lee he said be water basically if you get a cup and pour water in it the water becomes the shape of that cup and if you pour the water into a bowl it becomes that bowl. so be water my friend be water.

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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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Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at carrie@edbites.com

nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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