I like to refer to ED as the devil on my shoulder. That little voice that wants to persuade me to the dark side whether it’s not eating something, overexercising, or preventing me from just living life. When I made that decision to go on a diet and get healthy, ED and I created a list of “good” and “bad” foods. Basically anything with a smidgen of fat or of high calorie was immediately “bad”, even if it was a healthy fat like nuts it was still not allowed. In the beginning the “good” list was pretty long, I could probably maintain that list while still enjoying life but as time went on the “good” list got smaller and smaller. I also was counting calories on the My Fitness Pal app. I would waste hours a day plugging in everything that touched my lips. I would measure out everything I ate with measuring cups and spoons so it would be recorded accurately. I also had to be sure it was recorded before I ate so that I wouldn’t forget to add it later and to make sure it was in my calorie limitations or I would have to put something back. I would even add the half teaspoon of sugar-free organic sweetener I added to my coffee; nothing was to go uncalculated.
While I was adding my calories into the Fitness Pal app this helped me learn and see where I could cut calories out even more (aka restricting). It started with breakfast, instead of a whole banana in my Greek 80 calorie yogurt I would add half a banana. Instead of having an apple and cottage cheese for a snack, I would choose one. I analyzed everything I was eating and would never let myself be greedy to have more than 100 calories for a snack or ED would speak up and say “you don’t need all of that, that is just going to go to your legs and butt and they are already big enough!! Pick one or actually you don’t need any at all!” My lunch consisted of only a salad, no dressing or protein. My second snack would be a protein bar (less than 100 calories) so that I could make it through my afternoon workout. Dinner was a bowl of no fat low calorie soup, I figured I was getting vegetables and some protein all at once and I didn’t have to cook! Sometimes I would allow myself a sweet potato and piece of chicken for dinner if I was feeling very lathargic. Then I would usually crawl into bed around 7:45 so that I was not near the kitchen to be tempted by eating more and also because my body and mind were so tired from hearing ED and listening to him all day that I couldn’t bare one more minute of staying awake. During my years of restriction my mom always told me all I would ever say to her was “I am so tired”. Now looking back I can understand why. I am surprised I was even able to get myself out of bed in the morning and to work.
Grocery shopping always took place after the gym on Saturday afternoon. I prefer routine and without it I am completely lost. I wouldn’t go away on a trip or schedule any plans with the fear of missing my routine especially on the weekends. Going grocery shopping was an all afternoon ordeal. There wasn’t ever much put into my cart but was put into it was carefully thought out and analyzed. I would go down each aisle and before deciding on anything I wanted to buy, I would carefully study the nutrition facts of multiples options of the same item to see which had the lowest calorie and fat intake and sometimes even then it wouldn’t make the cut. By that point I had spent twenty minutes in one aisle and was so fed up I would just say forget it and not get anything at all. My cabinets and pantry were always half empty because if there was no food there then there would be no temptations. My mom would sometimes sneak over to my house (I was living alone nearby her house, another horrible idea) and would check my cabinets and fridge. She would call me and ask why there was no food in the house and I always had the same response, “Oh I’ve ran out of things, I’m going grocery shopping tonight.” I know she never truly believed me but she wanted to enough so she accepted my response each time.
ED was with me every moment of the day, even when I slept he haunted my dreams. Today I still hear ED, unfortunately he hasn’t gone anywhere. Some days I listen to him more than I should and some days I am able to tune him out from the strategies I have learned in therapy. It depends on my energy level, what is happening in my life, my mood and body image that particular day that depicts how much or how little I listen to his controlling self. I wish he would burn and die and never return. I wish that voice would just go away. I have cried and yelled and begged for him to just disappear but he never does. In therapy I always tell my therapist I hope one day I will never hear him anymore but unfortunately that may not be the case. I have to learn how to acknowledge his voice and his concern for me and talk ED and myself through helping him to back down. I need to help ED learn to trust me and the actions I make without his input. Sometimes I feel silly but talking aloud to ED and acknowledging his presence seems to help the more I do it. Saying things aloud is never easy, it is much easier to keep the thoughts private in our own heads. When I was diagnosed with anorexia I could repeat it in my mind all I wanted and didn’t have a reaction but the minute I had to say it aloud, I would break down. As I have said it more aloud it does get easier so I am hoping talking to ED or myself about my body image will help those things to get easier too.
Recovery is a journey, it is not something that will be fixed over night. I have been in recovery for a year and I still feel like I am no where close to being where I want to be. There are days I feel like I have taken a step forward and then there are days where I feel like I have taken ten steps backwards. But the thing to remember is we are not alone in this fight. There are others battling the same battle and some who don’t make it out alive. I know I have more to live for in life than just ED and though it won’t be an easy journey I will continue on it. I hope that you too will choose life over ED and that you will join me in this fight.