How do I cope with my Eating Disorder Anxiety?
Morning lovies! Today is another one of those philosophical mornings (BUT, as promised, I do have a few more recipes up my sleeve to post for you throughout the day).
Throughout my life, I had never been an anxious person. Sure, like all of us, there were certain situations that stressed me out more than others (i.e. family members being sick, law school & BAR SCHOOL. Side note: To all those who went through that with me, I’m sure you understand what I mean & to those who didn’t, let’s just say, it wasn’t easy). Like I mentioned in my previous supa-overly-emotional post, I have consistently found ways to rationalize with & simply accept situations that were (NOW I KNOW) most probably making me anxious subconsciously. The rationalization led to me internalizing so many different feelings of anger, sadness, stress & anxiety. In recovering from my anorexia, one thing I am grateful for is that it has allowed me to delve deep into the negative experiences that have shaped my life and to FINALLY, yes FINALLY, face them, deal with and overcome the anxieties I unknowingly internalized, and ergo, avoided.
For me, I think a big part of dealing with, coming to terms, and slowly overcoming said anxieties was coming to the realization that IT’S OKAY TO HAVE ANXIETY. It truly does happen to the best of us & what defines us and makes us strong is accepting and facing that fact and finding outlets & solutions to cope with the anxieties. As you all know (please refer, once again, to previous emotional post), I have always been a perfectionist (P.S. perfectionism is one of the many tendencies studies have shown in anorexia patients, GREAT. JUST GREAT). As such (not gonna lie), accepting that I had anxiety in the first place was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. How could somebody who had constantly imposed such high standards upon herself (and met them, most of the time) suddenly have her life spiral out of control and feel all these weird, negative emotions? RIGHT? Well you know what, recovery has allowed me to come to terms with the idea that it’s OKAY for my life not to always be perfectly perfect. In fact, letting go of that idea has allowed me to let go of the control I so desperately held onto throughout the course of my eating disorder, and to become more open, carefree & outgoing. I have accepted that I am not perfect, I never was & I never will be, that it’s okay to cry and to wake up some days & feel like going straight back to bed just because BUT that, other days, it’s also okay (AND IT FEELS FREAKING AWESOME) to wake up feeling accomplished & ready to tackle the day. In other words, in life, there will always be highs & lows and ups & downs and what has made me a stronger person, in just the two short months of the beginning of my recovery, is accepting that and learning how to cope with the lows & the downs (‘cause lez be honest, the highs & the ups don’t really need coping with – THEY ARE JUST AWESOME).
NOW, how have I learned to cope with the lows & the downs, a.k.a. the anxiety surrounding past negative experiences in my life, and more specifically, my eating disorder?
- I allow myself to be vulnerable with people I trust. In the past two months, I have opened up & vocalized my emotions more than I ever have in my entire life and it’s insane how liberating & wonderful it feels. I have cried more than I have in the past five years (And, as you all know, the past five years haven’t necessarily been the easiest of my life), I looked into my past & got to the root of what was causing all the internalized anger, anxiety and sadness and I faced it and came to terms with it. A MASSIVE weight has literally been lifted off my shoulders (& SERIOUSLY, I was really getting too thin to carry that weight anyways – NO PUN INTENDED).
- I allow myself to be open and accept my emotions & not only do I accept them, but I allow myself to fully experience them. In other words, I stopped pretending I did not feel anything when I genuinely did. THIS MIGHT SOUND REALLY PHILOSOPHICAL, especially at 6:30 AM, so what does this mean, you ask? It means that I have established a VERY NECESSARY balance between rationalization and feeling all the feels. In other words, when I feel angry, sad, frustrated, anxious, irritable, I no longer simply rationalize and say: “Kelly, GET OVER IT”, “Kelly, you’re being ridiculous”, “Kelly, just accept that sh*t happens”, “Kelly, MOVE ON” or “Kelly, BE STRONG”. Rather, I give myself the time to analyze where the emotions are coming from & if I have to, I laugh, I cry and most importantly, I talk about it (even if it’s to myself LAWLZ), and to me, THAT IS THE DEFINITION OF STRENGTH. If it means I’ll have a bad day because I dwelled on why I was feeling a certain way, then so be it (BUT AT LEAST, bottling up is no longer an option for me). Tomorrow will be a better day.
- I developed a balanced relationship with food. I let go of all my rituals, routines & strict rules about food (NOW, if I pour more than a tbsp. of coconut oil in my skillet, I don’t pour it all out & restart from scratch. Yep, I’ve done that in the past #noshame. I EMBRACE DAT COCONUT OIL. I let dat oil heat & I eat it all up!!!!). You have no idea how free I feel. As I mentioned in yesterday’s Pad Thai (YUMMMMY) post, I now make conscious efforts to include good & healthy fats in all my meals & snacks (This might sound dumb to some of you, but I was literally scared sh*tless to do this just a couple months ago. No, but seriously, had you told me there was even 0.5g of fat in something I was about to eat, it would literally take me an hour to determine whether or not it was worth it. NOW, I LOVE YOU, AVOCADO. I LOVE YOU, PEANUTS. I LOVE YOU, COCONUT OIL. Please. Come to me). This is a huge accomplishment for me and is a clear indication that I have been able to let go of the control that was fuelling my eating disorder and literally, made my life spiral out of control. In the words of my (AMAZING! Yes, I just plugged that right thurr) therapist, I was literally at the edge of the cliff. I was flying a plane that was ABOUT to crash & I had to find a way to get it back up in the air. And that’s what I did. GUYS, food is literally THE essential component of living a good & healthy life. It’s amazing how my life & my mood have changed for the better in the past two months. So please, be good to yourself & to your bodies. Trust me, the opposite is so not worth it. And the worst part is? It spirals out of control so quickly; you do not even see it happen, until it really is TOO LATE (Take it from me, I’ve literally been there).
- I read. OKAY, you might be telling yourself, “I read too. It doesn’t help me deal with my anxiety or other negative emotions. It’s just a hobby”. For me, reading has become a distraction, a passion, something I turn to whenever I feel a negative or anxious feeling coming on. It allows me to delve into the story of a fictional character, live vicariously through him or her & try to relate to them. It’s amazing how quickly you can get into a book & literally begin to care about what happens to the characters (Even though, it ain’t real). For the few hours that I am immersed into “somebody else’s” world (I often finish a book in like one or two sittings cause I literally cannot put it down), my tensions and anxieties are eased. (On a less serious note, in case some of you are looking for some good spring reads, here are some of my recent faves: The Wonder/All the Missing Girls/Before I Fall/Behind Closed Doors/Brain on Fire/The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck/The Couple Next Door/Truly, Madly Guilty/The Girl on the Train/The Husband’s Secret/The Kept Woman/The Nest/Pretty Girls/Small Great Things/Sweetbitter/The Perfect Girl/The Vegetarian/When I’m Gone (YES, I READ A LOT. YES, I HAVE A PLUM REWARDS CARD AT INDIGO & I AM THEIR BEST CUSTOMER).
- I learned to accept and love myself as I am. My self-worth is no longer based on physical appearance but is now based on my STRENGTH, my ability to tackle the eating disorder & to chose myself over it and last but not least, my ability & desire to share my story with the world (LITERALLY) and to help & hopefully inspire other people dealing with same or similar situations (OH AND, TO PROVIDE YOU GUYS WITH YUMMY RECIPES TO FILL YOUR TUMMIES). Placing too much importance on how I look has caused me TOO MUCH DAMAGE & it is so not worth it. When I see the numbers go up on the scale now, I do a happy dance. Two months ago, I would’ve curled up into a ball in bed and pondered about how I would get rid of that 0.1 lb. increase. CRAZY, RIGHT? I know.
- I learned to challenge negative self-talk. IF EVER, I catch myself being self-critical or pessimistic, I DO NOT RATIONALIZE (This post is not to say that being rational in life is sometimes necessary, but going to an extreme and rationalizing about every single negative emotion or situation we are faced with leads to internalization & bottling up and TRUST ME, it all ends up coming out one way or another, ergo, EFF YOU ANOREXIA). I stop to challenge the negative thought & the most liberating feeling is being able to get rid of it (but you can only do so if you give yourself the time to determine where it’s coming from & why it’s appearing, so PEOPLE, DO YOURSELVES A FAVOR. Ponder. Stop for a minute. Literally, sit down & just think. It is so beneficial. I swear).
- LASTLY (But most certainly, not least. &I think you can all agree), I COOK. Cooking has literally become my passion. I have developed such a love not only for food, but also for educating myself about food, nutrients & adopting a healthy relationship with food. It has literally become a lifestyle choice for me (Yes, it means I sit on my butt all day doing research & when I’m not doing that, I’m whipping up a storm & … making a mess in my kitchen), BUT IT IS ONE OF THE BEST CHOICES I HAVE EVER MADE. Not to mention, it means that I improvise tons of recipes in the Holy Grail that is my kitchen & get to share them with all of you so you can do the same for yourselves & your families (Admit it, I’m pretty awesome!!!!). No but seriously, cooking is fun, relaxing, rewarding, time-consuming (Yes, BUT SO WORTH IT), allows you to experiment & try new things and best of all, cooking means that I am eating & believe it or not, that’s something that feels like an almost miracle after the rollercoaster I’ve been on for the past two years. I finally found a way off the rollercoaster (Lez be honest, I’m afraid of heights & was totally about to throw up anyways) & guess where I found myself? IN THE KITCH!!!
OKAY GUYS, I’m done. Now, I will get back to posting some yummy recipes for you guys, so KEEP THIS TAB OPEN (Like, do yourselves a favour, seriously, easy access). No but seriously, even if you never did & do not have an eating disorder, I honestly hope this post can help you in some way or another to deal with negative or stressful situations or emotions that you are or will be faced with in the future because, as I learned throughout this process, NOBODY IS PERFECT (Nope, not even me!). Don’t be fooled. I did not say nothing is perfect. I said nobody is perfect…. Because like, the blueberry cinnamon sugar muffins I JUST baked (#freshoutdaoven) are PERFECTLY PERFECT PERFECTION. Do not try to tell me otherwise. I will get VERY, VERY angry (BUT I PROMISE NOT TO INTERNALIZE IT).