I had my first introduction to therapy two days ago. The first day obviously is just you explaining how messed up you are [lol] and the therapist pointing out interesting things to them. I’m highly aware of things I need to unpack. I also, in explaining some life events, realized how much trauma I have been containing inside for awhile.
I grew up in a very good, privileged, religious, structured household. When some of us do grow up this way, we feel less allowed to complain about instances that were hard for us because of our awareness that others had it worse. I think that’s why I find myself always drawn so heavily to Diane Arbus and all of these other rich artists who grew up with wealth and opportunity, but always held guilt within themselves. They attempted to dedicate their entire fine art experiences and art pieces on those people society considered misfits, but who the artists considered allies.
However, within the last 6 years maybe, I definitely went through some events that shifted my own narrative. From being just an insecure human who had been let down and heartbroken by others, to a sexual assault that was engaged by manipulation, to being attacked by a dog in my face and needing plastic surgery, to my cousin dying and coming back just to learn he most likely is going back in the direction that broke our family the first time. Throughout all of this my workout routines, my schedule, my diet was the thing I could control, and for the most part my body responded.
A side note: when I got attacked by the dog, I literally remember thinking WHILE I was on the operating table that maybe I would be able to lose weight since I couldn’t use my mouth to eat very well. That’s a true memory and that alone is a good thought process example of why I need help.
All of these events really surged my control with my body and eating… but what happens when your body stops responding? The last year I have gained and gained and gained while I began to restrict more and more. Nothing had made sense to my mind, and even still to this day, I almost sought out therapy because I know I need to eat more so I can lose the extra fat my body has packed on. So maybe seeking therapy for the wrong reasons, but I think it will lead me to the right ones. In my research for reverse dieting, which is essentially what I am doing, I found a few… [sigh] unfortunate symptoms of strict restriction for awhile – all that I face;
“When you drastically restrict calories or lose weight, your body senses the energy gap and your departure from its body-fat set point. In a desperate attempt to erase the energy gap and put the brakes on fat loss, several body systems work together to orchestrate a reduction in metabolism[1,2]:
•Your organs consume less energy.
•Your heart beats slower as sympathetic nervous system activity declines.
•Hormones that influence metabolism and appetite, such as thyroid hormone, testosterone
•You burn less energy during non-exercise activities, such as fidgeting, walking around the house, working, and doing chores.
•You use fewer calories to absorb and digest food because you’re eating less.
•Your muscle becomes more efficient, requiring less fuel for a given amount of work.
The source listed above actually goes through an example of a girl that I find myself identifying with. Someone who had been eating 1500 or less calories a day and was just always back and forth and had a terrible relationship with food. I know that I have done a great deal of harm on my body. All of those listed symptoms above I actually have. From the lack of sleep, to the slow ass heart rate [my bpm is 39-41], to the new thyroid issues. All of it. So if you need help in thinking about science and how less isn’t always best, I’d encourage you to skim the article and science about increasing food [and also our relationship with it]. But to say it’s easy to read it and then adapt the mentality would be a false statement – because I read all of this, and still my mind is screaming “you are going to get fat because you are eating more.” I can’t run away from it.
So the dreaded question, “therapy isn’t supposed to be forever, so what are your goals with each session? Un-pack that and get back to me.”
My goals? I don’t know my goals – I feel so lost. A part of me wants to conquer this ED, another part of me is scared if I do that Ill all of a sudden be 200 pounds with no idea how I got there and no way to get it off of me. Just today I woke up 172 pounds. How?? In the beginning of the year I weighed 159, which was high for me, and I reduced more food since then, ate less calories, have a consistent workout schedule and have so much more fat on my body. Restrictive eating, that’s how. So I’m terrified that my body will not follow the science that my mind is following and soon I’ll be overweight with nowhere to go, nowhere to turn, and I’ll fall back into my starvation techniques or worse.
My goals? I don’t want to overcome my OCD and become less productive… but I would like to not have an issue with control or being conquered by what is on my mind then and there. I’d like to be able to read and be able to relax and focus on reading without thinking of the trash that I forgot to take out and have it scream at me until I stop what I am doing to take it out. I’d like to be able to sit on the couch for an hour without rewriting my schedule for the week for the 2nd or 4th time that day. I’d like to go on a trip and be able to sit in the passenger seat without demanding that I drive because I can’t handle not being the one in charge. I’d like to let my husband unload the dishwasher without feeling increased anxiety about the him doing it imperfectly. I’d like to be able to leave my house and not go back 2 times to make sure I turned off the stove [that I never turned on] or check the candles that I lit and have no recollection on if I blew them out. I’d like to think I exist for a reason or for any reason at all when I have nothing to do for the day. But how do you accomplish all of this without slowing down your work ethic? I have so much work to do always. From grading assignments to editing weddings. I return work fast because I love working and am passionate about it. I’m not sure there is a cure all and leave some type of deal.
What are your goals though? I do not know. Maybe taking steps to see my body differently? Maybe getting over the feeling of these new fat rolls on my sides that I can feel at all times? Maybe changing my mentality forever as food as fuel instead of food as fear. What are my goals?? I don’t know – but solely because I AM AWARE of the way my mind changes information. I AM AWARE that food is fuel. I AM AWARE you need calories to lift and work out. I AM AWARE you need rest days. I AM AWARE I am not obese. I AM AWARE I need to eat more than I have been. I AM AWARE my self worth isn’t connected to my body weight. I AM AWARE that my mind holds the power to change the world. BUT I CANNOT GET MYSELF TO BELIEVE any of it. So what are your goals, Paige? Overcoming the dissonance between reading information and applying information. Trusting the process. Letting go of control. Crying more. Letting myself feel trauma. Getting over the resentment of my own body. Making art about it all as a therapeutic process. Existing because I exist, not because I need a purpose.