When you have an eating disorder you can manipulate anything in your head. There is a rational thought/reason behind everything you do. Even if doesn’t make sense to others, it makes sense to you. There are even times you can convince anyone that what you are doing is alright. You are the last person to really see that you are wrong. That your action is anything but rational. It is irrational.
Eating disorders have a tendency to cling to certain words or catchphrases. “Low-cal”, “Increase *insert some word*”, “cleanse”, “detox your body”, “clarify”, “fat”, “get what you want”, “this *insert action* will give you the approval you seek”, “control”, etc…the list goes on and on and on and on. You do the action because at the end of the day you need that control. That approval. A way to change who you are because you struggle with yourself.
When in the depths of my eating disorder I had a long list of things I did not eat, my list of few foods I would eat, what I avoided like the plague , an extreme exercise addiction, and I even mis-used fiber pills/laxatives. All of my actions were because I needed control. I viewed myself as lower than others but by obeying these rules I had set up for myself, I could be up there with everyone I felt inferior to.
In the yogi lifestyle, along with dance life, even fitness, a lot of people talk about cleanses/detox’s. I had friends who did them in the spring. In the yogic medicine, Ayurveda, you do them as the seasons change. Fitness people do it to help them get to their next goal. People asked me all the time if I did cleanses. I don’t know if it is because they saw I didn’t eat a lot or just ate tons of salad, or because I was into those lifestyles. I always said no. I never agreed with cleansing because I didn’t like the idea of starving ones self in order to “cleanse the inside”. But yet, I was ALWAYS starving myself. Though the eating disorder would never call itself a cleanse because an eating disorder is a way of life. A cleanse doesn’t last long. The idea of detoxes and cleanses always intrigued me. I thought it amazing that people could go a while without caffeine (which is an eating disorders really good friend…..mmmmm coffee for lunch! L-carnatine for snack though I will get the shakes! eye-openers because I don’t eat enough breakfast and I can’t sleep at night because I had no food and I need to be alive during my 8:15 History class) or eat nothing but black beans. Yet, it was everything I did. I didn’t drink the special teas or waters. I didn’t eat the specified times of day. I just didn’t eat. Or I just measured out my whole caloric intake up to my crazy two hour long exercise-a-thon followed by dance rehearsal. Due to this I stayed away from the cleanses. Yet, I couldn’t stay away from my eating disorder.
A few weeks ago I saw Yoga Journal promoting a fall detox. It was only a week long, and that seemed feasible. Their detox plan was food based (which a lot of detoxes aren’t food based. They restrict a lot). You ate a special rice dish three times a day, drank special teas, had a broth you had to for snacks. The meals were based on Ayurvedic medicine for your dosha type. There was even a special yoga practice that went a long with it. Each day you did a special cleansing and detox practice to help restore your body’s balance. In the morning I was going to have my husband give me a massage with sunflower oil before I showered so I could stimulate my lymph system. In the introduction video this cleanse was promoted as a way to “prevent illness”, “align myself with the seasons”, a “whole food cleanse”, a “purification of my insides”, and a way to break nasty habits I have, along with challenging a new way of being. So I can “self heal” and see the world with a new perspective.
As an individual with gastrointestinal issues that had been controlling her life the past few weeks (because my GI didn’t want me to forget that I had IBS and stomach spasms), I felt as if this detox could restore my internal organs. Cleanse my insides and heal them. I jumped on this wagon full force. I was telling everyone about this detox. I was pumped! I looked forward to eating this rice dish three times a day, have my love massage me, do yoga daily, and drink this tea that actually sounded delish. I also liked the idea of a challenge. The video mentioning about how detox help manage your bad habits and push you. I love being pushed.
So in therapy I mentioned this. My therapist was skeptical (my husband was too, but instead of voicing how he really felt he supported me). But using my eating disorder brain, I used therapy buzz words and manipulated it into something that sounded ok. With his approval I went out and bought all my special foods. Sunday arrives and I rise up early to make my rice dish, tea, and cilantro chutney. It takes me all morning! I am in the kitchen cooking up a storm. As I am preparing my meal I see this last slice of cornbread that I wasn’t gonna be able to eat. The hubby was double checking the foods I could eat. He offered me coffee but I had to refuse, I could only do green tea for caffeine. We talked about his dinners and I realized I couldn’t eat that delicious food. I had a special dessert that I couldn’t finish. Hubs was going have to finish it. There was all this food that I couldn’t eat.
My breakfast is ready. I look down at my bowl of rice, seaweed, carrots, beans, green beans, and potatoes. I have an apple with it. It doesn’t look like breakfast food. I am unappatized. Where are my Chex? My yogurt? My Whole-Os? I want cereal. Pancakes. Eggs. Anything but this! I take one bite and I say, “I can’t do this.” My husband replied, “You already giving up? You just started.” Hearing those words “give up” sparked my eating disorder. Giving up is a negative. I ate my breakfast. I am not full. Not satiated. I am miserable. Lunch arrives. Rice dish, and a baked potato with a tiny bit of avocado. Day goes on. I am foggy, grouchy, irritable….HUNGRY. Then I realize, I am in the pits of my eating disorder. I am doing everything, feeling everything, I did pre-recovery. In essence I was restricting myself but not with my eating disorder behavior. I had worked so hard over the past two years to eat freely. Eat that dessert, drink that extra beer, have yogurt, not measure breakfast/lunch/dinner, refrain from counting calories. But here I am restricting what foods I eat. Not feeling sharp. Feeling the sadness of not being able to eat the rest of that cornbread or foods I am now enjoying.
After that realization I gave up this detox. It put me in a very sad place. Inadvertently through all this mind manipulation, I had started down that path of my eating disorder. Like an alarm going off, my wise self, spoke up and said,”evacuate this detox!”. So I did. I snacked on that last piece of cornbread, I made a lovely cozy dinner and had a nice stout beer for dessert. I heard my eating disorder say (which by the way his name is Melvin), “You gave up. You took the easy way out. You are a failure. You use to have such will power when I was your friend before you dropped my friendship. I say to him as I drink my beer, “Melvin, I did not give up. I do have will power. I have the will power to give you up and stay in recovery.”