The last couple of weeks have been trying. Going forwards and backwards, backwards and forwards for so many years is frustrating not just for my loved ones, but for myself. A decade ago, I imagined I’d be ED-free by now. It was always a case of procrastination to start proper recovery ‘tomorrow’ with a series of tomorrows that never happened. It was fear – fear of food, calories, fat, and perhaps most of all, fear of who I would be, or wouldn’t be, without AN. Even when I tried, I’d get scared and revert back to my safe foods which ultimately meant shrinking in size. I question whether recovery will ever happen. I wonder whether I’m really strong enough mentally. I ask myself whether a family is truly what I want badly enough to be well and truly free of ED.
I have been writing every day, my thoughts and feelings towards life in general with regards to ED and eating. I’ve been pushing myself harder than I have for the longest time, and feeling pretty darned shitty with myself some days – for trying too hard and for not trying enough. My little triumphs I find difficult to acknowledge perhaps because ED has always made me think that those victories as failures on my part. This time, I choose to own those achievements, rather than brush them aside and pretend that all I feel is disgruntlement.
Below, I will share snippets of what the last couple weeks have been like inside my head together with some edible milestones, beginning with a McD’s soft serve that Flo pushed me hard to have to get the ball rolling.
It took a few false starts and half hearted attempts to get me pushing myself harder.
18 Oct 2018
So the plan right now is to allow myself to let go until 31st Dec 2018. It’s not easy and it won’t be easy but I have to at least give myself this chance to see how far I can go, to sit in discomfort, to enjoy the art of eating, and then at the end of the year, if I am so distressed and hateful towards myself, then I’ll have to work out the next steps to take.
I imagine that in 2.5months, I could be huge. But I also know that I may be entirely wrong and I won’t know until that time comes. What I do know for certain is that I truly want to have children sooner rather than later with Flo and stalling, procrastinating, is not bringing us any closer to fulfilling that desire.
So today, I start the first day of trying. Not just saying that word ‘try’ but actually acting on it 100%. It means eating what I – NATALIE – feel like eating, not opting for safe food when we are out, not sticking to comfort foods at home, and eating not the quantities that ED thinks I should eat, but rather, the amount that makes me feel satisfied.
The road from here is all uphill but I believe it will get easier. Some days will be shit, and others will hopefully be, well, hopeful. I am weak indeed, but my God is strong and I pray that I will be able to give control up to Him and trust that somehow, everything will fall into place. For my health, for my future with Flo, for our future.
This was a tough one to down because… ramen’s one of those fear foods especially with all the noodles ie carbs. I promised Flo that while Naima was here, I would have one since I know she wanted a good bowl of ramen before heading back to Germany. I hated having to do this but I’m glad I put aside my selfishness and joined them both. The ramen was good, still not my food of choice, but it was a nice change. I finished about 80% of the ramen as well as all the toppings.
Pushed myself to have a few mouthfuls of McFlurry after but then I really started feeling sick physically so stopped.
19 Oct 2018:
I feel bigger today. Heavier. Less strong in will – no, totally and utterly weak and I feel like falling back onto what’s comfortable and comforting to me. I may have lost weight for the wedding much to Flo’s chagrin but I can’t even let myself gain up to where we left off. There’s something immensely scary about that to me.
21 Oct 2018
Yesterday I think I managed to push myself a fair bit…
We had a nice lunch with Grandma P, Aunty Siang, Uncle Bruce, Aunty Doris, Mum, Dad and Naima at Yàn…
Dinner we went to Sandwich Saigon. Shared a smoked chicken banh mi with Flo and a beef salad. Can’t deny that the baguette was awesome. We had a walk over to ECP where we chilled and then returned home and spent a few more hours talking with Naima. It was really nice.
To be honest, I felt gross after lunch with all the food sitting inside me and me feeling so bloated, but I also have to admit that alongside, there was also a sense of empowerment that peeked out.
I was reading up on how being underweight also lessens the chance of ivf/iui working because it’s not just the conception but also the ability for the embryo to attach itself to the uterine lining. If it’s too thin, it won’t be able to attach and everything all boils down to hormones. Apparently being pumped up with hormones isn’t the same as the hormones our bodies create naturally. Knowing this has kind of spurred me on to push myself harder against ED. I’m still about x kg away from my minimum BMI and I should enjoy the process. Yes, my body will change but my life too, our future too, will be more hopeful in the process especially if I envision us having a child, or at least being pregnant, this time next year.
21 Oct 2018
Mornings are the hardest. I wake up feeling bloated and lousy. Like overnight, all the food I’d eaten the day before has amassed in my belly and refuse to leave. I wake up feeling like I can’t push myself.
But at the same time, there are moments where I feel that perhaps I can. Maybe not go crazy and eat everything in sight, but maybe put a bit more effort into what I feed myself. Only, when I’m alone, it’s easier to not try so hard.
Every night I go to bed thinking that tomorrow, I can do better but morning comes and my will falters. Of course, the last week I’ve been pushing myself. I’m sure of that. Now, deciding between a salad and something more ‘exciting’ hurts my head. Can I? Should I? Stick to the safe foods? Reward myself?
And now, typing this, I wonder – reward myself? For what? Why should food be a reward or the deprivation of it be a punishment? Why can I not enjoy food the way I should be enjoyed? Why can I not look at food as fuel, nourishment, necessary? It’s tough trying to change these thoughts in my head; difficult trying to rewrite my reality. So many thoughts fly through my mind – what if the estrogen pills are enough to thicken my uterine lining such that I don’t need to get healthy ie put on weight, to do so? What if I’m on all these hormone pills and doctor has no idea whether I should continue them when I’m healthy or not? What will I look like at a healthy BMI?
And yet, I know that I cannot stay this way. I know that I have to give myself this chance, together with Flo, to change the course of my present future. Argh!
24 Oct 2018
Some questions I know not to ask anymore even as they burn into my head.
“Do I still look thin?”
“Did I eat too much?”
“Do I look like I’ve gained weight?”
In the end, I know that objectively, I am underweight. And when I ask these questions in a bid for reassurance, I am also aware that there will be a point where I will look ‘bigger’, healthier. I realise now that these questions are destructive to me and to my recovery, and while I tell myself not to ask them the way I used to, it doesn’t mean they don’t float around in my head.
One of the biggest uncertainty that I face is the question of how much? I wonder what ‘enough’ is to gain weight. And on the flip side, I fear eating too much. I wish I could be healthy without gaining weight, without growing in size.
There are so many conflicting thoughts in my head. What do I want to eat vs what does ED want to eat? How do I know this is me and not the ED? Feeling full almost all the time now doesn’t make this ‘recovery’ thing easier. It makes me feel as though I’m eating more than enough but is it? Or is it just that my body isn’t used to having that extra big of carbs, the extra bit of protein? I want to gain weight quickly for the sake of children, and at the same time, not so quickly that I scare myself and want to return back to ‘smallness’. I feel happy eating something that makes me feel happy, yet guilty for allowing myself to. And when Flo expects me to continue with snacks in my daily routine, how can I eat dessert if I wanted to? Even if the ‘snacks’ are lighter? Perhaps this is something I shouldn’t be thinking about right now but the thing is, I do. It’s stupid, but, there it is. The thoughts of what I can and can’t do, should and shouldn’t do, want but wouldn’t do.
25 Oct 2018:
Spontaneity – that’s something Adaline and I discussed yesterday afternoon after I unleashed upon her copious amounts of thoughts. We traced back to why I feel so unable to let go of control, why I care how others perceive me if I were to let go entirely and gain weight. I fear that they will think me ill-disciplined in how I regulate my body and in effect, myself. I take on this responsibility because perhaps, for too long I shirked responsibility. I feared adulting.
Now, I am adulting. But my fears continue to haunt me. I realised upon sharing with Adaline how controlled I am these days. I plan my days, my meals, my actions. I relish knowing that I can protect myself from hurtful words. At the end of the day, there is an unspoken belief that to be skinny is still better, more desirable than being heavier. That someone who is bigger is size has less control, more lazy, less.
These days, I even control my once fiery temper. I try to measure my words. I mentioned to Adaline that perhaps, this partly contributes to why I sometimes feel U grating. Because she is so different from me. She is more uncontrolled, thinks less or little of consequences, and tends to live in the moment. She is childlike. She finds things that make her happy presently, often disregarding the aftereffects. I admire and loathe those qualities.
Adaline challenged me that from now until the next time I see her (8/11), that I do one thing spontaneously. And of course, I start brainstorming immediately on the things I can be spontaneous about which really, won’t be spontaneous at all if I were to premeditate it. I guess it’s telling then, just how much control I feel the need to have. Still, her challenge is one I definitely want to rise up to and I aim to accomplish it before my next appointment. She said it doesn’t have to be food related. We’ll see. I honestly cannot remember the last time I acted on impulse. Before ED happened.
26 Oct 2018:
Thinking about what Dad said about how years feel shorter as we get older. It’s made me think harder about how quickly time has been passing since saying all along that I want/need to get better. I want/need to recover. I want/need to be healthy. So much time has passed and like a yoyo, I go up and down, never really reaching the ultimate goal.
I have to do this though. I want to have babies. I want to have a child for Flo and I. I don’t want any more time to be lost… And I know that… if I were to ‘lose’ the baby or if the embryo is unable to even attach itself to my uterus ling in the first place, then I will end up blaming myself. For always. Even if it’s not my fault.
However uncomfortable it is, I have to push through. As much as I feel I may be losing, the fact is I will be winning. As weak as I feel, I am strong by God’s strength. I really have no excuses any more – I have a wonderful man I am now married to, family who love me unconditionally, friends who support me steadfastly. Those who want to think little of me, should mean nothing to me either. As much as I say that I care what/how others think of me, the truth is probably that I am the one who thinks little of myself.
27 Oct 2018
Just had brunch at Curious Palette – baked eggs with sourdough. It looked rather on the oily side but I did enjoy the melting creamy feta on top with the crunch of macadamias and flowy yolks. For the first time, I finished the eggs and a slice and a half of bread. All washed down with a cup of soy cappuccino. And then Guilt struck.
Backtrack to this morning when Flo weighed me and I gained. Obviously. I have been putting effort in, more so when Flo is around and less when he’s not. But my carbs intake have increased so of course my body is likely retaining more water, and trying to build back up. Yet, I couldn’t keep from asking whether I’d gained more or less than half a kilo. For some reason, it mattered and I was annoyed when he refused to tell me. He did. It was more.
The thing is, I am still fixed on wanting to get healthy, to recover, to continue enjoying food and seeing it as fuel for my body and mind. When I eat, as much as I like to deny it, I feel happier, my mood gets better. I want children. I want to be able to carry our child(Ren) to full term and have them healthy.
I want to enjoy building my body back up. Not many have the freedom to gain x kg. I do. And rather than fight the feelings, I should enjoy the journey.
So yes, I enjoyed brunch with Pearl and YJ and Flo. Yet, whenever Guilt strikes, I feel crippled. So when Flo grumbled a little about having to go home then come back out to meet Les and I for dinner since I said I wanted dim sum, I said to him that it’s ok. He can stay home and I’ll settle dinner with Les before coming home. In the end, I admitted that ED didn’t want him to join because then, I’d be able to ‘compensate’ for the indulgence with a safe meal where he wouldn’t be around to make sure I had a challenging dinner.
It sucks. The idea of wanting to move forward coupled with the inertia. I want to get better but still want to stay where I am where it feels safer, more comfortable.
‘You didn’t need to finish both eggs’
‘You should have ordered the poached eggs on toast with a side of mushrooms instead of the baked eggs’
‘You shouldn’t have had more bread’
‘You could have had less sauce’
‘You could have made your own, healthier baked eggs’
‘I wanted to have the baked eggs’
‘I enjoyed eating the eggs’
‘The toasted sourdough was good with the sauce’
‘I had more bread because I wanted to’
‘If I ordered the poached eggs maybe I’d still be craving what I didn’t order’
I am getting healthier. I am bigger than ED. I am stronger than ED. I am happy. I will be happy even without ED. The journey ahead will be tough but I will have fun with it and the reward at the end will outweigh all that ED will ever be able to give to me.
I want to enjoy dim sum tonight since that’s what I wanted to do when I suggested it. Order the foods I enjoy, safe or not. Have dessert if I want. I make my own decisions. Not ED. Slowly but surely I will silence its voice and remember what it’s like to live as Natalie. 100% Natalie.
28 Oct 2018
Last night was tough. For some reason I was insanely bloated/full and it was a difficult feeling to sit with and sleep with. All through the night, I just felt like a mangled heap of fat and I had to remind myself that it’s all in my head. The reality is that I have a long way to go to even reach the border of being healthy, let alone overweight.
I failed to mention yesterday too that (……….) a part of me feels angry with myself that I am behind even though I sought help earlier. I only have myself to blame. My absence of a period has made me have to wait 3 months before the HSG can be conducted and still, I have to wait till Nov 1 to start again on the progesterone. Hopefully my period will come so that I can get the appointment and not delay the process any further.
As shitty as this feeling is of gaining weight and feeling constantly stuffed, I want to be AT LEAST y kg, maybe even hovering close to healthy weight, maybe even being healthy weight (although truth be told that thought scares the living daylights out of me) by the time we can start on proper treatment and start trying to conceive. A tiny part of me also holds hope that I might fall pregnant somehow, by God’s powerful hands that hold mounds of baby dust, it might happen naturally even before fertility treatment is conducted.
I have to remind myself that I am a woman. Not a girl.
Yesterday when Les and I were getting our nails done, May, the nail artist doing Lesley’s nails said I’m so small sized she keeps mistaking me for a young girl when she looks at me from the corner of her eye. I’m 31! Not 13! And as much as I struggle to accept my curves at a higher weight, I know that they are essentially a part of me and who I am.
To some extent, I wonder whether my difficulty in pushing myself forward constantly, physical discomfort aside, is also in part a fear of the uncertainty of not knowing what there will be for me on the ‘other side’. Who will I be? Not so much ‘How will I look?’. What if my fascination with food, pastries diminishes as my mind and body is nourished? What will I fill my thoughts with? What kind of hobbies will I turn to? Or perhaps it is a fear of failure – that I will fail at recovery. Thus, I may as well not try.
29 Oct 2018
Officially done with eating deep fried foods for a while after Tonkatsu yesterday. Granted, I had the prawn tonkatsu but still. I don’t think I can take anymore physically or mentally.
They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. I don’t know what exactly I’m trying to form habit-wise. Perhaps new food habits? But I struggle to really go with the flow and enjoy the process of eating and tasting foods vs the habits of my mind where the critical voice screams at how I shouldn’t be ingesting so much ‘bad’ foods and how much weight I’ll be gaining.
The thing is, I keep having to remind myself that reaching a healthy weight does NOT mean I stop enjoying my meals. It’s ridiculous to think that being underweight gives me some permission to eat more indulgently. Sure, indulging certainly shouldn’t be made into a daily lifestyle but it’s always ok to treat ourselves every once in a while – which is often what I am able to preach freely to those around me, but not something I dare to act on myself. Not as often as I should at least.
Dad brought over his home-made beef stew yesterday and Mum declared it to be very very good. I’ll heat some up for Flo for dinner tonight and while I had some intention of having some too, and I guess I should, I am still hesitant. It’s as though ED is telling me I’m not supposed to eat so much beef. Why? I am not restricted by religion or medicine. Essentially it’s my brain wanting me to stick to the safer proteins that I am more accustomed to like seafood. Mainly seafood. Or chicken. Unless it’s dim sum then some pork. (Note: I did end up eating a bowl of the stew along with some toasted rye bread. Yes it was good. Yes I enjoyed it. ED, not so much. Nat 1: ED 0.)
It’s a case of so near yet so far. In my mind, I’m going to gain all the weight back within a couple weeks. Logical? Perhaps not. But it feels so real. That fear. At the same time, isn’t gaining back all the weight I’ve lost those many years ago the ultimate goal for me right now? So it shouldn’t really matter whether I gain it quickly or slowly, and right now, the former is more ideal, not so much to ED but to me. I guess?
So much noise in my head. A yearning to exercise just to feel like the food I eat is justified. A desire to run back to comfort. A small, but present, spark of excitement in eating better. And a fear. They say that happiness is a state of mind and an anxious mind causes only ourselves to suffer. To find peace is to let go of the anxiety, fear, sadness, negativity in our hearts and minds. It’s a feat in itself but as with anything, I suppose practice makes perfect.
30 Oct 2018 aka This Morning
You’d think that I’d be used to the feelings of bloatedness by now but every morning, I wake up feeling as though I’ve expanded twice, thrice over night. It’s definitely not the nicest way to start the day and makes me reminisce the many mornings I have woken up to feel lighter, especially after you know, using the bathroom. These days, even that doesn’t help.
The truth is though, there is a pleasure in eating. Perhaps almost the same pleasure as abstinence from food. The former produces a blink of joy from tasting, enjoying, consuming while the latter is formed out of a twisted delight that stems from the idea of punishment and discipline. When I restrict, I feel superior, in control. And although I think myself happy, I realise now that my mood tends to be low. I guess that being my modus operandi for so long has conditioned me to think that my low mood is simply what’s normal.
So why not eat for personal satisfaction?
Yes, going out, throwing away thoughts of calories and fat and what’s ‘too much’ and what’s ‘not safe’ even if only for that period of time, has led to my mood being lifted I realise. It’s as though I come alive and I yabber on and on about all things great and small animatedly. I smile more. I love more.
Isn’t there always a but?
But. When my thoughts calm down and the high I get from my brain and body being nourished tapers, I am flooded with guilt. ED swoops right in and I am left with thoughts of how I could have handled the food situation better – You could have ordered this which would have been safer; You could have NOT eaten that; You should have skipped lunch/snack; You need to exercise more if you’re going to eat like this; You’re going to get fat, fAt, FAT! And no one will love you. Everyone will be laughing at how fat you’ll be and snigger at your total lack of self control.
Indeed, the lies! But just as happiness feels real, as with sadness, and anxiety, and hope, and love, and faith, these feelings and thoughts that ED plies me with feel real too. Even when I know just how false they are.
I suppose that for the last decade of my life, ED has allowed for me to feel a sense of protection from the words of others. And for those who are close to me, they know just how powerful I believe words are. So rather than allow even the remotest of possibility for words to be used to attack me, I have armed myself with ED so that my esteem will always be guarded.
I realise now though, that I have to shed the armour of ED and grow in confidence in who I am. Words can be said but ultimately, to be in control is to know and understand that I have the ability to fight for myself. I am capable of guarding my heart and my mind. I know that I am stronger than I used to be. I just have to trust that I will stand up for myself when ED is gone. And trust, that, is a difficult thing to build and maintain.
I don’t know if all ED minds go through the whirl of thoughts and emotions that I am going through as I take each day at a time and try to challenge myself moving forward, but this is a peek into what goes on in my ED vs Nat mind. It’s a mad-house but I assume that as I get stronger, ED’s voice will die down.
Before Naima went home to Germany, we went together with Flo to do some painting at Boulevart, Trengganu Street. There, I decided I wanted to paint a phoenix. When we came home, Flo quickly put it up on the headboard of our bed, as a reminder every morning that gone is the old Nat, and out of the ashes, I will rise again renewed. I hope so. I really hope that this time, I will have the strength to go all the way…