*** Warning – potential trigger(s) for sufferers of eating disorders (bulimia, in particular) ***
This isn't a Ye Olde Common Sense post, but still it's bulimia-related and needs the above warning.
I know I haven't talked about this stuff in a while. I always feel bad doing it, because it's not a nice subject to deal with, for me or anyone. Anyone who has dealt with an eating disorder knows that it will be a daily/hourly/minute-ly (is that a word?) struggle for the rest of their lives. And lately I've been doing better. A LOT better. The majority of my eating is healthy, and when it isn't, I can tell myself that the bad things I ingest are massively outweighed by all the good foods. And I've been maintaining a healthy weight. Not my ideal weight, by any means, but one that doesn't stress my body, and one that I can live with and not freak out.
But every once in a while, the things I've done to my body catch up to me. I can have a day of completely healthy eating, and feel so good about all the choices I made. But at the end of the day, it turns out I had one or two bites too many. Psychologically, I'm fine with it. But my digestive system just can't handle it. Food backs up into my esophagus because it just doesn't move at a normal speed through my system, and the pressure starts freaking me out. And then acid starts backing up into my throat too, and I get more upset. I take pepcid, pepto, gas-x, anything to relieve all that pressure and discomfort and burning, and nothing helps. And I have to do what I fight so hard NOT to do, because I can literally feel the damage being done: I purge. And I know that the anxiety doing that causes makes things worse, but once things hit a certain point nothing else helps.
And then it really gets hard. Once the deed is done, the self-recrimination starts. I second-guess every choice that led up to that last, awful one. Didn't I know that eating a few more bites of salad would be too much? How, at this point, could I not realize that even a couple more carrots would put me over the edge? Because I do know that no matter how healthy the foods are, there is a limit to the volume my body can handle before going into overload. And every time I go over it, I blame myself and I doubt my motives and I can't help but wonder if there was some small self-sabotaging part of me that was looking to undo all my work.
Because it is work, and I have been doing it. I have days-long stretches of abstinence, which is a pretty big freaking deal in terms of bulimia. When every meal, every bite, every drink (even of things as benign as skim milk) is a battle, a day of abstinence is a beautiful thing. Two in a row feels like a miracle. So when I'm not careful enough to maintain it, when I screw up and set myself back to zero, it feels like it must have been intentional on some level. Which is horrible. Thinking - knowing, if I'm really honest - that there will always be a part of me that is looking to take me back to a place where the disorder owns my life? It can be wearying. But I've come to terms with the fact that I am a self-sabotaging person(ality). A lot of my current hermit-ness is a manifestation of the very necessary care I am taking with myself, to determine how much and how often I can "put myself out there" without doing damage or triggering my destructive tendencies.
But the idea that it might be an accident? That a couple good days might lull me into a complacency that would land me back in that place simply because I wasn't being careful enough? That terrifies me even more. I know I will always fight with food. What it means to me, what I can eat, how I eat it, all that. And I know I will have to fight myself on several levels. I have come to terms with that. But I don't know how to deal with the possibility that I might allow myself to be lulled into a false sense of security by a few good days. DAYS. Not weeks or months - that, I could almost see. But days? When there is so much at stake and every hour is such a struggle after a fall from the proverbial wagon?
And again, I know that it is literally impossible to think about every single bite of food and sip of liquid over the course of a day, especially when one feels compelled to do so every day. But not doing so, even when eating a totally healthy diet as I have been doing, puts me at risk of hitting that physical tolerance limit. And once that has been reached, no amount of telling myself to wait it out (because it's just discomfort that isn't health-related) will avert the compulsion to relieve the physical and mental pressure. So how can I accidentally let myself eat too much? And on the other hand, how can I allow food to have so much control over my life? Am I not admitting defeat by allowing food, rather than my will (whatever that means, in the end) to have the final say?
I know I'm overthinking and being too hard on myself, but that in me which is fighting to beat this thing screams that I have to be, that I can give it no quarter. And sometimes I don't know how to live in a world where I can give myself no quarter. Hence, my difficulty.