Use Your “Science Mind”

There are umpteen articles out there that are titled, “What Not To Say To Someone With An Eating Disorder.” Or “What to Say to Someone Recovering.” “How to talk to someone with an eating disorder.” “What is acceptable to say to someone with an eating disorder.” Etc, the list goes on and on, some are probably titled the same thing, with a different font, different capitalization, different spelling.

One thing that I have been told, on more than one occasion, is to use my “science brain”. Some background on me, I hate compliments, hate positive affirmations even more, and was able to finish school and graduate, while spending half of my final semester in residential.

I am a Biology Major, with a Chemistry Minor. After graduation I got a job offer several states away, after interviewing, weighing my options, and looking at the hefty benefits that went along with it, I took the offer. I am currently working as a Biochemist, specializing in HPLC Method and Development. All of this to say, I have been called “smart” for as long as I can remember. I am nothing more than average. I got a C in Inorganic Chemistry, passed Virology with a disheartening B, and that is nothing to the hell I endured through Cell and Molecular Biology, with a professor I referred to as “Dr. Douche Fuck.” (Only behind his back, of course).

So, when people tell me to use my “science brain”, it, well, it pisses me off.

Yes, I can tell you that carbohydrates are needed for the cell, as well as lipids, protein, etc. I can tell you glycolysis, the one letter amino acid codes, the vitamins and what the body uses each for. Logically, I know food is fuel, that you can’t gain anymore than you consume, I know basal metabolic rate.

I know people die from eating disorders.

My science mind is great and useful for information about health, bacteria, the works. My mind is also great at using denial and deception, along with ED. I believe that I am the exception, I believe that it will never happen to me. I spent years in denial, I craved my morning runs and the lifting, I still don’t believe I’ve done any long term damage to my body. To some morbid degree, that bothers me.

I wish I could sit here and tell you that I was the frail, feeble, weakling with the feeding tube. Knees knocking as I wait for the elevator because I am unable to climb one flight of stairs. That I had some miraculous story to tell.

I don’t.

I fight with myself and my body daily. Wishing I was thinner, that my stretch marks would go away, that my thigh gap was more obvious and my collar bone would protrude a little more.

It is very difficult sitting in program, in a room full of sick people, comparing my body to theirs. She may not be allowed to take the stairs. He may need help carrying his tray.

Me? I did 5 miles before program. I did push ups, I did crunches. You name it.

I am the heaviest patient in the room, I am nearly sure of it.

I wouldn’t say I am “ok” with it- but I am accepting of this fact.

I could probably also dead lift their body weight no problem.

It is this morbid sense of comparison that is so difficult to me. You are the heaviest one here. Yeah, but I lift and run. Or are you justifying the reason you are fat? No, I tell myself. I wonder how they see me though.

ED’s never ceasing manipulation.

It Is Okay To Be Triggered; Or Are You Jealous?

A close friend and I went out to eat for my birthday about a month ago. I had only been out of treatment for a week. As we prepared to order I was looking over the menu for something condensed, but yet, that hit all of my exchanges. I decided on a quinoa, kale, craisin, almond, salad with grilled chicken.

She got up there, decided to get half of a turkey club. No bacon. No mayo. No cheese.  I struggled through my lunch, desperately wanting to not eat, to only eat toast and turkey. I was so annoyed that someone that knew me so well would do this at lunch. I took it very personally, was irritated, and pretty triggered. She was part of the reason I went to treatment, telling me she was proud of my choice to go, to take care of myself, etc. Yet, here she was eating bread and turkey… half a starch, and maybe one protein.

I wanted nothing to do with my lunch anymore, I wanted to say something. Blow up. Let her know how ridiculous that was that she is barely eating anything and yet here I am having to eat all of this.

I didn’t say anything. I ate half of my lunch, (which was the norm when we would go out to eat in treatment) boxed up the rest, and tried to not let anything get to me. It was my birthday lunch, this was my recovery. I was still annoyed by what she had done, but I tried to talk myself out of being triggered and pissed. I wanted to throw up lunch.

Being rational though, I told myself that this was my recovery. I had to do what worked for me.

Later, I told a friend about what had happened. I explained it was no fair that I had to eat all of my exchanges and eat so much when she was barely eating, and she knew I had been in treatment. I told her that was so triggering to me, and I thought it was so ridiculously ignorant of what she did.

Without judgement she pressed the issue a little further. “So, it was triggering because of what she was eating?”  Yeah! I wish she would have eaten like as much as me, not barely anything, because I didn’t want to eat anything.

“Sweetie, you weren’t just triggered…. you were jealous.”

Those words were enough to make me defensive and pretty pissed. Until I realized she was right. I was jealous. I was jealous she didn’t have to eat as much as I am expected to.

When people would talk about running and sports, I wasn’t “triggered”, I was jealous as hell that they could do something I couldn’t and they hadn’t abused working out like I had.

Talking to my mom I consider that very “triggering”. She has a way of making me envy people who have healthy mother daughter relationships. She makes me jealous of the people who can rely on their family and jealous of the children who can talk to their moms.

In my opinion, it is ok to be “triggered”, but acknowledge it for what it is. Is it jealously? Are you really “triggered” or is it stemming from something else?

It is okay to be triggered, just like me at lunch, but it is how you react to it.

I could have chosen to have a hissy fit, not had lunch, restricted or purged. That wouldn’t have been proactive or healthy at all, and would have only hurt me and my recovery.

It is perfectly okay to be annoyed, upset, triggered, jealous. The key is how you react to those situations and circumstances, that makes you rise and continue on towards recovery.

Trust the process.

XOXOXO