CW: eating disorders (surprise), alcohol abuse
It’s been about a year and a half since I first sought help for my eating disorder. My life in early 2016 was pretty lonely – my rigid diet and fear of food caused me to isolate myself – which is largely why I started talking about it on my blog. Recovery was scary, so it was nice to have an outlet to express all my conflicting and confusing feelings about it.
While I’m weight restored, I wouldn’t say I’ve “recovered” – mostly because I’m not at all happy about it. I want to be, and I know I should be, but I still frequently think about getting “skinny” again. I plan out diets and workout routines that I don’t stick to, because I’ve been on that path before and I know how it turns out. I know that kind of lifestyle is unsustainable, which is why I can’t bring myself to follow through with it. Even so, I think about it a lot.
I’d like to get back into exercising, if I can find a way to have a healthy relationship with it. But when I was recovering, I was supposed to stop completely; I didn’t at first, convinced that I could somehow recover without gaining any weight. I had that mindset for a long time: that my problem was my constant food-related thoughts (read: hunger) and nightly binges (read: feeding myself). Sometimes I still catch myself thinking this way.
I only dropped this mindset because I started gaining weight – and fast. That was during my refeeding phase, which, for those who don’t know, involves eating a loooooooot of food. I’m talking at least 5,000-7,000 calories a day, every day. This was something that my nutritionist and I discussed, which she said was normal and even desirable. I hated it and didn’t want to do it – but once I started, I couldn’t stop for at least a few weeks. It was around this time that I stopped exercising and accepted that I was going to be gaining weight.
I still didn’t like it, though. Especially now that I’m over my pre-ED weight and heavier than I’ve ever been, I find myself checking and picking at parts of my body constantly. Sometimes I hate getting dressed for work because anything that’s not a T-shirt and gym shorts makes me self-conscious.
But recovery was going pretty well for a while. Around the time of my grandmother’s passing in June 2016, things started to go south again. I went off of my medication, which I had started to feel wasn’t helping much, and started drinking a lot. I never particularly enjoyed being drunk, but now that seems to be the only time I’m not acutely aware of how much I weigh.
I’ve embarrassed myself, made stupid mistakes, and even been to the hospital because of alcohol. I thought each mishap would finally be my wake-up call to get it together, but so far it hasn’t. I made a promise recently to stop drinking altogether, and I plan to get to that point – but it’s not the overnight switch I thought it would be.
I’ve found drinking to be a kind of self-medicating, but it worsens the problems I’m trying to treat. I berate myself for no longer being in good health, so I drink – and when I wake up, I’m certainly not any healthier. I mope about not being productive or accomplishing anything, so I drink – and my productivity goes out the window.
And I think I haven’t been trying as hard to find solutions because my depression has become a little stronger than my anxiety. My eating disorder was mostly anxiety-driven, and it was fueled by a need to find my identity and be good at something. If I wasn’t “the bookworm” or “the musician” or “the K-pop girl,” then what was I? My last effort to shove myself in a box was my also my most self-destructive: I had to be The Tiny Girl.
I still haven’t let go of that wish, and I still frequently romanticize my thinness – I just don’t have the energy to maintain it. I think drinking is also a way to absolve me of my laziness and inability to accomplish anything; I’d much rather say “I didn’t do it because of alcohol” than “I didn’t do it because I couldn’t.” My biggest obstacle to achieving my dreams is my (baseless) certainty that I’ll fail.
I also feel this intense pressure to live up to what I believe are other people’s expectations, but it’s not driving me to actually do anything. I think ultimately, I’m just doing a lot of thinking and not a lot of doing.
Which is why I plan on setting a schedule and sticking to it. I want to write every day, even if what I’m writing is shitty and unusable. I want to learn how to dance (never too late, right?). I want to play more music, even if it’s just on my old, cheap keyboard. I want to read more books, play more video games, watch more movies. I want to learn a lot about a lot of things. I want to blog more. I want to do a lot of things that aren’t really possible when you’re drunk all the time.
So…wish me luck.
(If you’re struggling with an eating disorder or alcohol abuse, please reach out to someone – a professional, a loved one, or hell, even me. Don’t think you have to fight these kinds of things alone.)