Two weeks ago, I was having a terrible Monday. After a breakdown that morning, which unfortunately included yelling at my dad, I had to figure out a way to be okay enough to be present in class. I ultimately ended up taking some lorazepam and heading over to school. It worked well and I was actually able to be mostly present in class. After class, though, the feelings started building up again.
Leading up to that Monday, I had spent almost the entirety of four entire days trying to shove information into my brain, but it just wasn’t going in. I was behind on my readings for class and was desperate to catch up but for some reason, it just wasn’t working. That morning, I sat at the kitchen table pouring over my textbook, trying to understand what it was telling me and how I could make that into some form of coherent notes. I couldn’t understand it at all. I kept rereading the same part of the page, to no avail. So, true to form, the thoughts started rushing in.
I can’t do this. This is too hard and apparently I’m too dumb. I’ll never catch up on my readings. I’ll have no idea what’s going on in class. Why doesn’t this make sense?!
I felt myself on the edge of a panic attack. So, I got up and left the table. I needed out of that situation.
Then I realized that I needed to leave for class in ten minutes. And panic set in.
I was able to calm down enough to ask my dad for some lorazepam, but I knew it was going to be a rough day — and my Mondays are already my longest, busiest days of the week. By the time I got out of the house, the Ativan had calmed me down enough for the post-panic numbness to set in.
I made it through class and made the call not to study in the awkwardly small gap in my day and went shopping instead. Eventually, it was time for me to head into the city for my support group.
I spent most of my group huddled on a couch, slowly cocooning myself in pillows. I was significantly quieter than usual and mostly on the verge of tears. Afterwards, I was able to have a chat with a couple of friends of mine. We talked about a bunch of stuff, they gave me some good advice for schoolwork (no one does all the readings, skimming is okay, and pull the main ideas from the introduction and conclusions) and we also talked about bodies (which is a common theme for us). One of the things they mentioned to me stuck with me all week (and still does) — “focus on what nourishes you.”
Recovery from binge eating disorder is no small feat, and it’s been hard for me to avoid the I-must-lose-weight trap. This conversation, and a discussion with my therapist thereafter, got me thinking. Restriction is super triggering for me, so why am I focusing so much on what to get rid of? I should focus on what I want to gain.
Screw the days of focusing on weight loss and eating less — what I really want is to be stronger, faster, and healthier. So, that week, and the week since then, I’ve been asking myself the same question: what will nourish me, right now?
Nourish is a wonderful word.
verb. Provide with the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.
Nourishing yourself could mean caring for your mind, body, spirit, or really anything you need or want to care for. If we focus on nourishing ourselves, we can take care of our emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and social health. That’s a hell of a better focus than just physical health.
So, since then, when I feel the compulsion to binge or give in to the eating disorder, I’ll ask myself: what can I do right now that will nourish me and I won’t regret in two hours? And surprisingly, it worked.
I was symptomatic once that week — any other week it’s every other day (at least). Some days that meant a scoop or two of ice cream, other days it was a salad or a long drive. I focused on recognizing if I was hungry and not how many calories I’d already eaten that day. I felt (and still feel) damn good. For some reason, it took me hearing that word on that day to make a genuinely useful change.
My world is finally shifting after years of hard work and effort. I feel weights lifting and outlooks brightening. If you’ll forgive me, I want to be a bit sappy for a second and thank the people who made it possible.
- My therapist, Jolene, for helping me understand what my mind is saying and how to convince it to shut up.
- My parents for always supporting me and listening to me even when I’m at my craziest.
- My best friend Emily for proving to me that people can be good and that distance may be hard but we can do it.
- My new friends Kat and Adisa for always understanding what I’m saying and always being on my side without even asking them.
- My fellow loiterers Robyn and Hannah for some world-class pep-talks and all the right words exactly when I needed them.
- The community supports for being free and worth so much more than that.
- And finally, my readers, listeners, and followers: even more valuable than writing to sort out my own life are the comments, tweets, and messages that I get saying that you find value in what I do and that you’ve been through the same thing.
Sure, it’s a stupid graduation-type speech, but hell, I feel like I’m graduating.