Perspective

My metabolism has once again gone completely bonkers. After I first increased my eating after being sick, my weight dropped again (less than a pound, but still...it really needed to start going in the other direction), which meant an even larger food increase.  This sent everything into an upwards spiral. I'm eating insane amounts of food right now, and it's really frustrating because I'm not sleeping well, I'm having hot flashes left and right, and I'm just really sick of stuffing my face.

BUT...

My other freelance writing job is for an ALS clinic. ALS, for those of you who aren't familiar with it, is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease in the US and Canada. ALS is uniformly fatal. No cures exist, and neither do any real treatments. It generally kills in 2-5 years after diagnosis. Your motor neurons die, which means your muscles are paralyzed. You can't swallow your food, hold a pen, or even talk as the disease progresses. You can't breathe properly, which is the frequent cause of death. You basically suffocate. It's one of the few diseases that can almost make an eating disorder seem cheery.

I have days when I get done with my work, and I want to order a vodka and Prozac, shaken not stirred.

My job provides some pretty good income, but it provides something just as important but much less tangible. It gives me a really good dose of perspective.

See, when I was younger, my mom used to try and make me feel better by reminding me of all the people who had it worse than I did. No doubt it's true, but I interpreted her statements as the equivalent of "Stop being such a big baby about this!" It's why I don't like to compare my situation with others, because it makes me feel that I'm just being a big baby and I need to buck up and deal with it.

I'm older now, and I'm better able to appreciate subtleties. I can see that an appreciation that other people have it worse than me doesn't have to mean that my situation is a piece of cake, either.  I can have a good whinge on my blog about all that damn food and the stinking hot flashes while simultaneously realizing that it could be worse. I hate when people point this out to me, because it feels so tremendously invalidating--again, like I have no right to my pain or feelings. This doesn't mean that it's not important to get this perspective and to develop ways of viewing the world where I can acknowledge my own struggles and also keep them in perspective.

It's a hard balance to keep. I'm not always good at keeping that balance. Most of the time, I'm sick of my own whining. I find myself jealous of the strangest people, just because their life seems to suck less. I also feel that I have no right to complain since I feel I'm doing this to myself.

In the end, both me and the ALS patients I write about have shitty illnesses. We all struggle to make it through the day. I'm lucky. Recovery is a possibility for me. For lots of other people with lots of other illnesses, it's not. So yes: acknowledge the suckitude and then take a deep breath and do what you can with what you've got.

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5 comments:

hm said...

Excellent realization. I am faced with this conundrum daily as I watch my big sister struggle with a type of chronic leukemia- how can I not feel guilty for my stress over my treatable, curable disorder, when my own sister has a non-curable disease? And yet, if I do not acknowledge my stress, then my disorder gets the upper hand, using my guilt as a weapon to beat me down and suck me back under. I have to turn my back on my guilt and be honest about my stress so that I can learn new, not-disordered, ways to cope with it. And, at the same time, I have to keep from over-focusing on my stress to the point that I fall into a pit of depression, which also gives way to the ed to find relief. Further, feeling like I am the only one in the world who feels so shitty makes me feel so damn lonely. It's good to get my head out of my ass and understand that I am not at all alone- so many people suffer, for so many reasons. We humans are meant to love on and support each other.

Anonymous said...

I thunk you made a great point that although recovery from ED is 100% possible for anyone who wants it , we are still entitled to our feelings that we hate it and life sucks with it. I used to let ED use things like people with terminal illnesses against me. I'd hear what right have you to moan when there's others worse off. I.e how could you be so selfish ?!! But ok yes there are those worse off but ED is horrible also. I am entitled to get upset or feel any other feeling.

Emily said...

Thank you for sharing that perspective, Carrie. It's rare that I remember how fortunate I am to be able to swallow and digest my food. My husband has Irritable Bowl Syndrome, and it's hard for him to absorb all nutrients from food and keep on weight. He reminds me often to be appreciative that my body is able to put on weight. When I look at it that way, I feel better about my body's abilities!

-Emily

Anonymous said...

Hi Carrie,

I've been reading your blog for a while. You seem to have these periods of hypermetabolism fairly often- do you know why? I thought it typically went away after the initial phases of refeeding.

Great post- it really is important to keep things in perspective.

:)

writingandrecovering said...

I used to always worry about this and complain about how I have no right to complain. But everyone is entitled to their own feelings. It is a hard balance to keep. Some people have worse things but that doesn't make your feelings invalid.

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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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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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