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Reply To: anorexia/restriction, running, and how to stop the insanity

Blog Forums Eating Disorders anorexia/restriction, running, and how to stop the insanity Reply To: anorexia/restriction, running, and how to stop the insanity


@tennosea – (Love the name, by the way.) Your honesty about your current situation really touched my heart. I have been in a very similar situation in the past. I did 20 years in quasi-recovery. Which is to say, I was very, very unwell. At my lowest points (and there were several) I was down to under 120 pounds at 6′ tall. I’m a man, and I’m guessing that you’re a woman and BMI is BS anyway, but all the same, factoring in for those considerations, I’m guessing that your current weight is probably similar in many regards to when I was at my lowest weight. (Almost identical BMI, which, as I said, is BS, but at least a reference point.) So my initial thought, before I even read the rest of what you had written, was that your weight sounds dangerously low. I’m sure you know that from your engineer mind, but knowing that from your emotional mind is another thing. I know. If all it took was logic, then I wouldn’t have lived with ED for so long. But on the other hand, logic can be a powerful ally. So I wouldn’t dismiss it just yet. To be entirely honest, for me, I got so sick eventually that something just switched in my brain. It didn’t make all my problems go away, but it was a definite shift whereby I simply wasn’t willing to believe my own neuroses any longer. But somewhere in there I believe that logic was a strong ally. First, I had to be willing to take a good and honest look at my situation: I was starving and I was doing it to myself. I was going to die sooner rather than later, and, to be honest, I was so miserable that I would have been happier to die than to have continued in that way. Perhaps that is what led to the shift. But upon taking an honest look and account of my situation I then reasoned that the only possible way out was to eat and to rest (i.e. no exercise.) Now, of course, I also knew that there were reasons that I restricted and exercised compulsively (as well as plenty of other compulsions) – it was all an attempt to relieve the (seemingly) unbearable anxiety that I experienced from the obsessive thinking that I had. My brain was always on, always talking, and it was tyrannical. It went something like this: “You shouldn’t eat that. If you eat that you’ll feel bad. And sugar/fat/meat/grain/etc. is morally, ethically, and spiritually impure. If you eat that you’ll be impure. By the way, don’t eat that apple that you’re thinking of eating either because it too might have some as-yet unknown or unseen impurity. Best not to eat anything.” Or “You ate that food that had something wrong with it. Now you’ve got to do something about it. You have to fast. You have to exercise. You have to do penitence.” Etc. Etc. And then there was the physical sensations that I tried to avoid. I didn’t want to feel full or bloated. I wanted to feel light and pure. But I knew, logically, that I needed to eat, and I needed to eat enough, and I needed to eat unrestrictedly. Oh, and I also knew that I needed to reject the compulsions. For me, I realized that it was absolutely not worth living the way I had been living – obsessing, starving, etc. So I decided that I would eat, eat enough, and not restrict for the rest of my life starting immediately. And I decided that I would not give in to compulsions any longer. I found YE, and I decided to follow the MiniMaud guidelines. I took it upon myself as as new challenge, to see if I could be creative enough to succeed. And for me it definitely has taken creativity. My digestion was so compromised that I simply couldn’t eat that much food at first. So I had to find ways to dramatically increase my calories without adding a lot of bulk.

I searched for years and years for the secret that would allow me to defy the basic laws of this reality – to be able to eat little to nothing, be severely emaciated, be obsessed, engage in compulsive behavior…and still be healthy, with boundless energy, enthusiastic, and happy. I finally concluded that there is no such secret. For me, the real secret has been this: thought is just thought, nothing more. My ED was fueled by the fact that I believed my thoughts. Even if I rationally could understand that my thoughts were lies or at least flawed, I wasn’t truly seeing through them. There was still some degree of belief that I held in them. I had super paranoid thoughts (i.e. someone just put something “bad” in my food when I blinked my eyes or turned away for a second) that I rationally knew were not true. But I *did* believe the thought that followed those “crazy” thoughts – thoughts such as “if I don’t follow this compulsion not to eat or to exercise or whatever, then I will be punished or suffer.” So for me, I had to completely see through all thoughts. I eventually recognized that thought has no substance. No thought is true. It is just a thought. What is true is true, and thought is, at best, an interpretation. But it is not the truth. For me, understanding that I didn’t have to believe my thoughts gave me a new freedom. It didn’t take away the anxiety immediately. For that, I had to be willing to just ride it through without giving in to compulsion. For me, the greatest way through that is to physically relax. Any time I felt anxiety I chose to do a sort of PNR (progressive neuromuscular relaxation) style relaxation – scanning to find where I held tension, and releasing the tension. Soon I found that I was less anxious less often. And now, I don’t obsess about food or anything like I used to. I feel a sense of freedom that I would have had a very difficult time imagining just a few years ago.

I don’t know if my story is anything you can relate to. However, I have found a lot of people with restrictive ED can relate. So I hope you find something helpful in there. From what I have read of others’ accounts and from my conversations with others with ED, it seems to me that most people ultimately find that they just have to jump in with both feet, start eating the minimums, stop exercising, and ride through the anxiety to discover that it doesn’t have to control them. I can’t promise you what your experiences will be, but I can tell you without hesitation that jumping in and facing the anxiety, seeing through thought – this is one of the best things I have ever done.