Something different

The shoe thing over the past few days has been something very different for me- buying something not 100% practical, buying something period, listening to my "wants" as well as my "needs," things like that. This is not something I'm used to doing. I've never been a "oh-what-the-hell" kind of person. I don't throw caution to the wind, and I don't like taking risks.

Recovery has asked me to live life very differently than what I am used to, not just during the AN but also to how I was before my illness. I'm not becoming a totally different person, no. But I am trying to approach life a little differently than I have in the past.

Before, I was all work, no play. Not that I wasn't known to try and read at least a few minutes before bedtime, but I didn't relax unless all of my work (studying, chores, etc) was done. It was never done. I still struggle with just relaxing, although I am getting better at it. I took the day off today. I had writing that I probably should have been doing, but I put in an extra-long day yesterday to get enough of my stuff done that I could finish up by tomorrow's deadline. My parents and I spent the day at a local theme park, something we've talked about doing since we moved down here but we never quite found the right time with the right weather. Today seemed to present all of those opportunities, so we went.

Like Brie, I've found the weight gain process to be the simplest part of recovery (not the easiest, but the most straightforward. My RD told me what I needed to eat, and I got enough support in order to eat and gain weight). It was hellish and unpleasant and phenomenally anxiety-provoking, but it was relatively straightforward.

It's the part of recovery where I have to relearn how to relate to the world that I find so difficult. I've slogged through the worst of the really emotional stuff, but what I really want is someone telling me exactly what I need to do in order to live my life in a non-disordered way. Am I avoiding people or do I really just value lots of alone time? Is my rigidity helping or harming? Am I gravitating towards salads because I'm craving greens and roughage or is that the ED "helping" me with my decision making?

The answers aren't clear cut, and they don't stay the same. Sometimes I do really feel like a nice big salad, and other times I just order it because it feels "safe." So I can't just check a question off my list and move on. I have to go back and re-evaluate. And often, in order to evaluate my feelings, I have to do something different, see how that feels, and check back in with myself. It's laborious and not all that fun. In fact, it's rather exhausting.

But this something different is enabling me to live life again and, heaven help me, have a little fun along the way.

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Cathy (UK) said...

Carrie, you write: "...what I really want is someone telling me exactly what I need to do in order to live my life in a non-disordered way."

Perhaps by doing that that someone would be telling you to change your personality, something which is impossible. Everything you describe in this post about your behaviours is exactly the way I am. I have been rigid, inflexible, obsessive, compulsive, perfectionistic and anxious right from being a small child - i.e. long before I developed AN. Now that I am recovered from AN I still possess all of these traits. Furthermore, these traits run in my family, they are inherited and they contributed to the development of my AN (but are not my AN). Despite these familial traits, no-one else in my immediate family has ever had an ED. However, they have all struggled with depression and anxiety.

I had my traits 'confirmed' to me when I volunteered as a 'guinea pig' to undergo a lot of psychological/cognitive testing at IoP in London earlier this year. The computer tests I did had nothing to do with weight, shape or eating; they were card and number puzzles and tests of emotion recognition. I didn't know what was being tested at the time of testing, but (unsurprisingly) I came out with a profile of extreme cognitive rigidly/inflexibility, detail-orientated and with poor emotion recognition.

I am recovered from AN but these inherent traits still impact on my daily life. I am a relatively solitary person (despite having friends) and it doesn't bother me (except when people tell me I 'ought' to be more sociable). I try to push my boundaries and be more flexible, and sometimes it works, while at other times it doesn't.

I guess I would ask you whether or not you are happy with your characteristics, or whether they are really distressing you. If you are not unhappy, but just concerned that you 'should' be something you're not then why not just accept your personality? After all, your personality is one factor that contributes to your writing success.

P.S. I'm really glad you bought the shoes and I look forward to seeing them!

Anonymous said...

When I read your entries, it's as if you are writing exactly what's on my mind. I swear I could print out your blog posts and bring them into therapy to discuss where I'm at and what I'm struggling with.

It's amazing how often we feel so different from everyone else and so alone in this battle, but in fact so many of us are struggling to figure out the same answers.

Thank you for sharing all that you do here. It is incredibly helpful to read and I hope it is as helpful to you to share it.

Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul said...

I also took a day off today. I realized that I've been running myself into the ground getting ready to move and focusing so much on work, that I am getting repeated headaches and stomachaches. We all need to slow down once in a while, but, as expected, I still feel slightly guilty about not working today. I'm going to focus on listening to my body and trying sllllooowww down. Thanks for a really wonderful post. I love your voice and your words always resonate.

flaweddesign said...

i soooo agree. weight gain is def the simplest of all aspect of this journey. i've said that throughout my disorder. i also know that trying to work on the psych stuff while gaining weight is near impossible for me because the fear and stuff is just too much, but once at a good weight for my body i can venture into the abyss of 'feelings' and blech, the past.

i have all faith that you can keep moving forward. i don't htink anyone can tell us how to navigate it....

Lisa said...

even though it may not seem like it, the disappearance of symptoms ( EVEN THOUGH it's hard has hell to get through ) is the easiest part of recovery. We're all strong and soliders for standing in this storm.

YOU CAN DO IT and YOU ARE DOING IT. you are living life different. Living in recovery means doing what we NEED AND WANT :)

stay strong, hold on

Unknown said...

In Jenny Shaffer's "Goodbye ED, Hello Me" she writes about how difficult it was to let go of her work obsession to incorporate 'fun' into her life. she pointed out not only how hard it was, but how WORTH it, it was.

YOU are worth it. dont forget it

love, becca

Josh Spurlock, MA, LPC said...

It's interesting how our eating disorders can take on an addictive flavor in a way that goes beyond just food.

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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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