I’m writing this post for a few reasons. Partly because I started this blog to talk about my recovery process; partly because I find writing out the ups and downs and lefts and rights of my life helps me understand myself a little better; and finally, partly because I could not find a post online about this…. ‘This’ being the moment when you LET THE HUNGER HAPPEN. I thought to myself, ‘if this is not written about, there is a stigma and thus, the stigma must be eradicated.’
On 29th May, I increased my intake onto the minimum calorie recommendation intake for me, based on the Minnie Maud guidelines. It was a scary step because it was the ‘final’ step of committing to this recovery journey I am embarking on. It hit me a few times just how much I was eating and I found myself reflecting on the changes I have made in such a short space of time. This brought conflicting thoughts –as always, owing to our old nemesis called Anorexia – of how great it is that I am becoming healthier and managing to nourish myself, but also the immense fear of losing the control and identity that I have lived with for so long. I am slowly cutting strings with my Anorexia and it is scary.
That night, after consuming exactly my minimum calorie recommendation, I searched and scanned and foraged the internet for information on giving into hunger. I had felt hungry several times throughout the day but I felt such guilt for it. Why was I hungry when I was eating ‘SO MUCH’?! Although I could not rationalise it with myself, I know it is because my body has been deprived for so long. I wanted some reassurance that giving into my hunger is OK. I was not even sure of how to go about it. It was a completely new concept for me to consciously allow my hunger to determine whether I ate or not. Restriction was familiar and comforting… My hunger on the other hand, is like an angry tiger that has been locked in a cage for far too long. Letting it out of the cage seems dangerous. Ultimately though, it is best to free the beautiful creature, because it belongs in the wild.
The next morning, I ate breakfast as usual. However, on ‘finishing’ it, I realised I was still hungry. I panicked a little. Then, I made a choice. I chose to allow this hunger. Accept it. I ‘over’ ate. It was fabulous. It was terrifying. It was brave. It had to be done. I had intense feelings of guilt, which were rooted in my Anorexia. I felt like a forgery. Was I ever anorexic? How can I eat so ‘easily’? These thoughts prove that I do have an eating disorder but what I realise is essential here is that what matters upmost is who I am today. Each day. Not who I allowed myself to become in the past.
I could not have managed this day without the support of others. I needed to have external perspective to remind me that everything is okay and I am on the right path. Without this, I may have turned to restriction which would have been critically bad. I am forever grateful to the supportive people in my life.
By the time of mid-morning snack, which was not long after finishing my elongated breakfast, I was no longer hungry. I was pleasantly full. I did not eat snack because I did not need to as I was on target for my calories. Then lunch came and I ate it and managed it okay. Same with afternoon snack and then dinner and later my evening snack. Following this, I decided I was still hungry and do you know what a hungry girl has to do in recovery? You got it – She Must Eat. So I had additional ice cream. I was not supressing my desire for food but just feeding myself as I should. This progression and acceptance of hunger felt secure and reassuring but it was also combined with the insecurity and fear.
There goes contradictory Anorexia again.
I suppose it was like I was taking a jump from a diving board:
I walked up to the edge.
I took a step back.
I cautiously edged my way forward again.
I peered over the edge.
It is such a long way to the aqua water below.
I take a deep breath.
The falling feeling flurries through my body.
The sinking sensation stirs me.
But… I’ve landed safely.
The water is refreshing.
The new elements are exhilarating.
The next day rolled around soon enough and I found myself having a delicious banana oatmeal breakfast. My sister and I were having a relaxed morning so my morning snack and breakfast merged into one. I suppose this is a step for me because usually I would conform to a habit of eating at specific times and set meals and snacks.
Lunch followed as usual and then when afternoon snack arrived I thought to myself, ‘I’m up for a challenge’. For me, I feel this is an important part of recovery; recognising when you can challenge yourself and trying it. I decided to eat pork scratchings straight out of the packet, until I was satisfied, as opposed to my usual habit of weighing out the ‘correct’ calorie portion size. As a result, I ate more than I would have if I had stuck to my normal routines. And… that is okay. No. That is great. I was allowing my body to tell me what I wanted and not my logic. This is overriding my eating disorder. Challenge accomplished.