Hello Summertime!! Hello shorts, skirts, sandals, swimming, sun (alliteration much? Sorry… English nerd in me). With Summer comes body image and ice cream trucks!
I had a dream last night that woke me in bed and left me confused; confused for many reasons. Mainly confused because it was a dream about an ice cream truck and I was walking into my house eating an ice cream cone and smiling! My panicked thoughts waking up were: What is this? I’m anorexic, I can’t think of this, I can’t eat ice cream and be happy about it. I can’t dream about ice cream and be okay with it. Why am I dreaming about something that I’m terrified of! Why am I okay eating this in my dreams? I have no idea why this dream came along, or what made me think of this, but for whatever reason, I think I wanted ice cream. Does that scare the hell out of me? YES! Will I muster up the strength to get some ice cream at some point?
Americans all know this big machine that comes down the street playing the most annoying song that just won’t end. The first 10 times aren’t so bad…. but when that line is long and the song is on repeat and it’s on #30 you are ready to throw a rock at the speaker! 🙂
I thought I’d give you a visual of this wonderful truck we love and then hate. And this poor person who probably hates his job. Who in the world would dress like this for his job? He is surely a poor college student looking for some cash for next semester! Thank you sir for giving my blog readers a giggle!
I’m finding that sometimes there are roles that we have to play when it comes to this illness. It’s tough for people to help us because NONE of this is clear cut!!! I think those of us in the disorder want it to be clear cut, but it’s not. So many times in treatment I begged for them to give me a timeline – how long until I’m recovered? How long until I’m out of partial hospitalization? How long until I’m finished with Ensure? But you can’t judge people against a timeline because we are ALL DIFFERENT. I hated that answer! I felt like it was a cop out! But it’s true – if they said that recovery takes about three years, we would judge ourselves based on where we fall on that timeline and it would only make it worse. Even when Beth, my dietitian, gives me a vague answer like that I still think it’s a cop out even though I know it’s not. I hate when there is not a concrete answer! My treatment team NEVER gives me a concrete answer and I can’t stand it! I really just need answers. Even though I want answers, I’m finding I can’t give answers …..
We do have roles we play when it comes to this illness and it’s tough. I find that I could be out with some people and they will assume things because of the eating disorder. It’s like I wear a stamp on my forehead that says “anorexic” or something. Just because I’m around and there is food, I won’t freak out (anymore). If there is something to eat, it doesn’t mean I won’t eat it. Just because I have an eating disorder, doesn’t mean that I never eat… it just means I struggle sometimes, and sometimes doesn’t mean you should assume all the time. We are observant; I see people look me up and down when we meet and haven’t seen one another for a long time – has she lost weight? How skinny is she? Has she gained? – I’m not an idiot. I also see the glances during meals for those who aren’t around me often. I’m not offended by it, but it’s just the role I have. So often in treatment we hated it. When going through refeeding it was so hard to deal with the fact that people are now watching you start to eat again (because that wasn’t the norm before). Yes, they will stop watching when it’s normal again. They aren’t watching because they want us to feel uncomfortable, they are watching because they love us, they are scared, worried, happy and want to know what they can do to help in this process… but so often, we have no clue what you can do to help us! NO CLUE! The only thing we do know is that we have this little map to health called a meal plan and we have to follow it.
Although we feel like we have these roles to play with our eating disorder, we don’t have to play them. If we choose to have a snack that we see as “bad” that doesn’t make us a “failed anorexic” by any means, it just means we are becoming stronger in recovery. We are not defined by the eating disorder, therefore we do not have to play any of the roles labeled by it. Just because I am labeled as a recovering anorexic, I shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed or like a failed anorexic for eating foods that have fat in them. I always hate eating them because I feel like I’m breaking the rules, or doing something “bad,” but that is what the goal is, right? We don’t have to stick to these labels, nor do we have to hold labels that we think people have of us. Just because somebody with us knows we are anorexic doesn’t mean we have to grab the calorie-free drink. You aren’t anorexic… you’re in recovery and that is very different!
The one thing I’m learning is that we can fit these summer items into our meal plans… (I still hear Ashley’s voice in my head…. She’s the dietitian from partial hospitalization and not quite as nice as Beth and that’s all she ever said, “you can fit anything into your meal plan”… she’s right though). Even though it’s not in the “anorexic code” to eat ice cream, I’m sure I could find a place for it in my plan. So, as our days get hotter – and boy they are! – planning ahead is the best thing we can do. So, before it becomes overwhelming and frightening, what are some of the things you can do to prepare?
Here is what I do:
- Think about when this snack could happen, and with whom.
- What kinds of snacks could then take place?
- What are safe snacks for me (popsicle, frozen yogurt etc)?
- Preplan what I might be okay with and how it could fit into my meal plan (dairy, side item), it’s just like anything else with my meal – it’s really me who is making it have all the power!
- Remember that all calories are turned to energy!
We are the ones who give the power to our fear foods. Food doesn’t have any power – as easily as we give it, we can take it away. The more we remember that it’s all energy that is broken down the same way, the more we can start to see that it’s not all so bad. [wait…. Is this me talking? Am I really saying all of this? holy cow!!! seriously, nobody tell Beth I said any of this because I’m sure she will up my meal plan to 1 billion sides and 10 added lipids!! 🙂 just kidding…] So, you can break the mold and you don’t have to play the role of the eating disordered person NOT eating the snack…. You can have it, because recovered people, and those in recovery, take on that challenge!
So, do you have roles that you play in your life that you may or may not be expected to play? Do you like or agree with the roles, or not? If you could change the roles would you? If you want to change the roles you play, you can…. If you were to start changing the roles, how would you do it?