Breaking Rules and Needing More Support

At this point it has been six days since I stopped actively restricting or counting calories.

It is hard. Really hard.

I don’t have any intention of stopping anytime soon, but I’m not sure how long I can keep this up. Every moment of every day is a struggle. I feel like I’m standing right on the edge and fighting to keep from sliding right back into the disorder.

Part of what made me want to stop restricting is that my therapist does not want me to have to go into inpatient or residential treatment again. I don’t want that, either. I think it can be tempting to surrender all control over to a treatment team that tells you exactly what to eat – how much should be starch, protein, dairy, vegetables, fruit, etc. They decide when you eat, where you eat, how you eat, what you do before and after you eat; they essentially make every decision around food for you.

Which can be very helpful, especially for someone in the throes of anorexia who is so malnourished and trapped in the disorder that they are in danger of dying if they don’t get calories. It can be simpler to follow the rules someone else is enforcing than to have to break your own rules.

But, in the end, it’s still about rules. And that is what my therapist and I are trying to avoid. Neither of us want me to trade my own rules around food for someone else’s. Part of why I have this disorder is because so much of my life was controlled, particularly regarding food. I was told what foods I liked and disliked. I was put on a diet as a toddler. I was deprived of the foods that I loved and forced to eat foods I hate.

So the challenge now is about trying to figure out how I feel about food and how to connect with my own body’s cues to eat based not on rules, but on what sounds good and what my body needs at any given time. I have been trying to listen to my body and learn what it means to be hungry or full. I’m trying to learn what foods I like, what I don’t like, and what I tend to eat or avoid simply because of the many rules I’ve created around food.

The problem, unfortunately, is that I have absolutely no practice doing this. I think the foods I identify as something I “like” are really just “safe” foods. Even if I eat safe foods, but not at the correct time or portion, they are scary. All of this “rule-breaking” makes me feel completely out of control and unsafe. I hate it. I don’t trust myself to make the right decisions and I constantly wonder if I am doing the wrong thing in eating more food.

I find myself running numbers in my head, calculating calories and trying to ballpark how many I’ve eaten to get a sense of how much damage I’ve done. I don’t mean to do it and I don’t want to do it, but I can’t help it. It just happens so automatically. I’ve been counting calories and macronutrients for so long, it’s difficult to imagine ever NOT counting.

I guess I thought that once I chose to recover, it would be enough. I thought wanting to pull away from the eating disorder would somehow be all I needed.

I was wrong.

Not only do I have the actual eating disorder itself, but then there’s orthorexia and a moderate level exercise addiction. It is a LOT to take on at once.

So now I’m wondering if perhaps I need more support. It terrifies me to think about bringing this up with my therapist. I always feel like she somehow misses something whenever we’re talking about my ED and I don’t want her to feel like I’m giving up or something. I don’t know, it’s confusing.

But I just don’t know if I can do this without more support. I don’t necessarily even know what that would mean, but I think it’s worth investigating.

25 thoughts on “Breaking Rules and Needing More Support

  1. G. Collerone says:

    I think it’s worth investigating too. I have found tremendous help with support groups, especially online. Maybe an ED support group is in your area or Facebook (if you use that social media). I have been reading your blog for some time and think it’s courageous of you to try and stop the ED thoughts. I know it’s not easy but maybe in time you will find that you aren’t automatically counting calories or restricting. You aren’t alone. sounds cliche but I am here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. SassaFrassTheFeisty says:

    I think that realizing you MIGHT need more support with your ED is a VERY good thing. It means you are taking an active role and trying to get better. And maybe having just a therapist or support person for ED will help with the beginning parts of the transition. Huggies to you on that!

    (side note, I started to follow a recovering anorexic on Instagram. She talks about her struggle and how she overcame it. If I find her acct would you like it? It’s ok is you don’t. I’m so relieved to hear that you way and are trying to take positive and healthy steps in your ED process. {Hugs})

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Yes, exactly. I don’t think I would need support for an extended period of time, but maybe just in the initial phase coming out of acute behaviors. Thanks. And yes, I love recovery accounts! Please share if you find it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • SassaFrassTheFeisty says:

        The acct I follow on Instagram is amalielee and its such a cool acct. She eats healthy and indulges and talks about her recovery.

        Even a short amount of time for support is I good thing. I think that way you don’t become more dependent on another therapist (as I know you struggle with the boundaries with the one you have now because of your past {Hugs hugs hugs} which adds to your already delicate psyched-and i wish I could give you a big old squeeze) It’s awesome to see you thinking of ways to get better in a healthy way. YAY!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Boost Connection says:

    I am so glad you wrote this. It makes it so clear that this is an ongoing struggle. Resolve and determination are the first and most important step imho. But it’s okay to need more support in breaking the behaviors and cognitions that have tortured you. You are worth fighting for! Try to hold on and remember this is not how it will always feel ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rachel says:

    The moments of insights and shifting awareness (your I am DONE revelation) are so energizing and inspiring – and then the energy subsides a bit, and here you are. Fuck, this is hard and a lot of work and yes, need a lot of support. All kinds of support. I totally get feeling scared to talk to your therapist.
    I actually just thought today a bit myself, wondering if I need another therapist. In addition to my own, someone I can do DBT with a couple times a month. Just that extra support can go a long way. And for you, the specialized ED care, when you’ve struggled your whole life (it sounds like). Your therapist is amazing and obviously helping, and, she isn’t an expert in everything. That is just a fact, no judgment or reflection of how much you appreciate her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      The ebb and flow during this phase is exhausting! I am pulled in such opposing directions constantly and I am always afraid of failing in either direction. I’m still exploring the various options for supplementing treatment, but I do overall feel like I’m moving in the right direction. Thank you x

      Liked by 1 person

  5. ambivalencegirl says:

    Be kind with yourself, it hasn’t even been a week. I have more rules than I would ever care to share but some days I break them. Some days are easier than others. Maybe that’s the secret, to know when you need to be flexible and when you need to hold on a bit. It’s a balancing act to maintain a sense of control and normalcy. I had never thought of my ED as you explained yours and I love what your T said about control. It is not healing to have a team of people tell you what to eat and do. It is easier in some sense but ultimately we need to learn how to care for ourselves and have a sense of being able to make decisions and move through the anxiety. It’s so complicated to just eat. But it’s only been 6 days and you are doing it!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. skylarsmom2013 says:

    Probably a nutritionist that specializes in ed’s is the best person to help you. More so than a therapist, it sounds like she does not. I used to be anorexic, and I had a really great nutritionist. She was very much like a therapist, she understood the why, and knew how to help. It took quite some time, and I still have some eating issues, but I am so much better. I still have a therapist who is very kind, helpful, and understanding. She understands ed’s, but not as well as a specialist. I hope this is helpful. I know it may be difficult to find one that is understanding with your history. I was really lucky, even when her place of employment stopped taking my insurance, she was still able to see me. Good luck!!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. La Quemada says:

    It is really hard to change, even when you want to. I would encourage you to enlist all the support you can access with whatever insurance or other resources you can. This is the rest of your life we’re talking about, after all. It’s your health and your happiness. That’s what I’ve found I need, anyway. I see E weekly, and I see C every other week for mind/body work and (maybe) EMDR. I get massages every two weeks (working on being in my body). I have physical therapy for challenges that emerged since my hysterectomy. I meditate daily. I believe it’s possible to get better, and I am really committed, but I still have the “I am bad” loop playing in my head (maybe not as much) and I still feel the urge to burn myself (also maybe not as much). I try to think of it as an investment in health and wholeness..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      That’s an excellent way to think about it! I’m just trying to figure out how to diversify and expand my resources and support network in the best way possible, financially and otherwise. I think including all aspects, such as body work as well as the psychological work, is an excellent idea! Thanks 💗


      • La Quemada says:

        The body work is helpful I think for learning to tap into what I actually feel. So often it seems like I don’t have feelings in the moment, or if I do, I don’t know what they are, so I can’t react and set boundaries like I might want to. But I’m working on it, breathing, feeling where the tension is and what it says to me. So you could be right, someone focused on intuitive eating. Or if eating is too tender a topic, someone just focused on what you experience in your body, as a way to start in that direction.

        You are so brave to make these changes. Today I feel like giving up.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. S says:

    what about monte nido nyc? they have a very very partial program – 3 days a week, 3 hours a day. A friend of mine worked here as a psychologist and thought very highly of it. I also know there are some dbt groups in the area specifically for ED. What about one of those?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. e.Nice says:

    It really makes sense that this would be hard. This is a major change and it is exhausting! I hope you are able to get some support, especially if you need to rest for a day or so to regroup. Learning to listen to your body is an ongoing battle!


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