I have EDNOS, struggling with obesity and binge-restrict cycles. I’m in therapy, have a dietitian (although we don’t stay in good contact), and just started seeing a psychiatrist. I’m also in the middle of reading Life Inside the Thin Cage. This restricting stuff just started a month ago. I know the direction in which I’m headed, but I feel like I can still choose to not go down that road. Here’s where the problem is… the desire to restrict is so gripping and overpowering, but I can’t keep up the restricting due to fear of physical problems and my seemingly inherent tendency to binge (hence the cycling). I don’t want to let go of my desire to restrict- it seems to be my only hope for weight loss. In fact, I want it to control me. But, I know better than that! I don’t like where I’m at because lies are screaming in one ear while truth waits patiently to be heard. And so, I’m teetering between two extremes, to be healthy or not, and either decision makes me angry. I feel stuck and don’t even know where to begin to want to choose what’s healthy. I’m afraid to move in any direction. How do I get unstuck and off of this teeter-totter? -Amber
You describe in your recovery the tug of war between our healthy selves and the disordered eating voice so well. The good news is that you are still listening to the healthy voice and you care about your wellness. It’s also great that you have a nutritionist and therapist, and I’m glad you’re reading “Life Inside the Thin Cage.” Keep reading because you’ll read how Constance began to solve this dilemma.
To many of us the answer to this “stuck point” lies in an examination of our values. Let me suggest three exercises just for where you are. First, write a list of your most important priorities…such as “physical health,” “fun,” “financial security,” “spiritual well being,” “friends,” “learning,” “appearances,” etc. Then force yourself to rank them in order of first, second, third, and so on. In life, we do have to make deliberate choices about our values and priorities. For example, if my spiritual health is more important to me than what other people think, then I have to make decisions based on these priorities. If I don’t, my life is out of my control.
Secondly, after you’ve ranked your priorities, I suggest you put pen to paper and write a “pros and cons” list. It is helpful to put all those things spinning around in our head down in black and white, just to make sense of it all. For example, you can list the advantages and disadvantages of letting restricting take control of you. You’ve already named two big disadvantages – physical problems and binges. Be sure to also include things like energy level, isolation, etc. and list each physical problem separately – like possible fertility problems in the future, etc. Next to each item note whether it is “very important”, “important” or “not important”.
Finally, I suggest you let the disordered eating part of you DIALOGUE with the healthy part of you. Some people do this in writing. Or you might want to discuss trying this in session with your therapist.
You can stop the teeter totter, Amber. Take the battle to new battlegrounds. Writing and dialoguing force the disordered voice to make sense – something it doesn’t do very well when left to itself.