Friday, 12 July 2013

Wow, progression!!!


I am beaming and bursting with hope for the first time in my entire life with regards to food issues and recovery.

First let me start by saying I am a RECOVERING compulsive overeater, binger, sugar addict and bulimic.
As most know I have a long history of food issues which started in childhood and has progressed in many, many ways over the years. I was excited to blog tonight to share the events of these last thirteen days of abstinence for me.  (almost fourteen)

Back in April of 2011 I embarked on a self-journey losing 114 lbs by August of 2012.  It is when I first came to terms with my addiction/eating disorder and started to work on my recovery.
In September of 2012, I started my first year of nursing school and lost my grip on everything I worked for in that last year. Between September up until today I have gained back 40 of the 114 lbs and blamed everything on starting school, lack of time, all the things wrong in life and excuses. My relapse was the fault of anything else except of course, ME.  I couldn't and wouldn't admit I was in relapse and once again using my drug of choice: FOOD.  

It has taken me thirteen days of abstinence to even come to the conclusions I have today, and feel some hope.  My character defects, behaviours and obsessing had put me back into isolation and must admit it felt harder coming out of tis relapse than it did to initially admit I had a problem back in 2011.  When isolating, it is from people, my emotions, my spirituality, my hobbies & love of life.  I pull away from everyone and everything and live within the most lonely, negative and miserable place to be within.  I self-bully, self-abuse and live within my anxieties & fears.

So, today I really wanted to blog about these last thirteen days of abstinence, as a reminder for myself and a sharing of what I have been through for not only my friends and family but for those who follow that are living within their disease .  Everyone, of course, is different.  My disease and triggers are not perfectly matched with anyone else's, nor is my recovery.  We do, however, have behaviours, plans and tools in common and the desire to stop compulsively overeating.  

Here is a breakdown of my 13 days of abstinence:

1/ Abstinence List - I was able to break it down and make it as accurate by being honest for the first time.  It has always been a struggle to admit what I really needed to abstain from.  I cut corners, made excuses and allowed myself the things I knew were a problem deep down by abstaining from other things which made it okay.

2/ Plan of Eating - I fully worked out my plan of eating, rules and my eating history with complete honesty.  Putting it altogether in point form and acknowledging my past relationship with food and how it progressed over the years has been eye opening.  Eating patterns, the foods I overate and the reasons for doing so will help me to eventually build a new set of healthy eating habits.   This plan of eating is the beginning of my freedom from compulsive overeating and will help separate the eating from my emotions and helps me to not have to make random, quick food decisions throughout the day.  

3/ Daily Tools - It has been a challenge to keep myself moving forward with incorporating the necessary tools into my day.  It started with daily meetings, sometimes TWO.  Attending the meetings gave me the strength to participate in the TRG loops (support groups and programs) some and reconnect.  I let go of the unnecessary loops so I could focus on the ones I needed right now. My first day of abstinence was June 29th, and very timely two new programs began on July first that require daily participation.  A Newcomer Orientation workshop as well as a program that guides me through working the twelve steps.  I have participated in both of these daily as well as a couple of very supportive loops, making frequent communication through the day for support. 

4/ Asking for help - This has been a struggle since day one for me.  I felt I had control, and made my recovery all about my weight loss, how many calories I was taking in, how much exercise I was doing and weighing myself often to report the weight loss.   It is NOT what food addiction and recovery can be about to be successful.  Any released lbs from working the program is a definite asset, however, my obsession with it was keeping me in control and unable to admit the powerlessness nor give me the ability to hand this over and ask for help.  Today, I can proudly say for the very first time in my life, that I am reaching out via the loops, OA meetings, my sponsor, my literature and support system I have in place.  

5/ Exercise - It is still important to get my daily exercise in, however, I will not be obsessing how many times I do the Gym in the run of a week, how long I need to walk to burn x amount of calories or anything of the sort.  I will get outside and get walking because it is healthy for not only my body, but my mind.  I will work on getting back into running because I have a pure love of how it makes me feel and how accomplishing it is and I will do weights, and challenges and anything that inspires me to move not for the numbers but because it feels good and i'm wanting good health.  I will not twist exercise into an unhealthy act - it is for the good of my health and the positive mind that comes along with it to take the best care of me.  I want to walk up  the stairs without feeling out of breath again, I want to not feel pains in my legs and feet and I want to feel more confident and work on the body image issues.

6/ Spirituality/Higher Power - This is a big one for me.  I spent the majority of my life not following any spirituality due to isolating and anger issues that stemmed from childhood.  The religion I grew up with was certainly not for me.  Upon joining OA, the word God was frequently used and caused me much discomfort.  I highly respect all people and their religion choices, the discomfort was not the word God or anyone's religious paths, but my past, family history and upbringing.  Buddhism became the spiritual path that fit me, because it is and has been my way of life.  For me, today, it is peace, serenity and nonviolence.  Buddha is within me and so kindness and humankind is my power greater than myself. Practicing a truthful life and awakening to the reality of the world, seeing things as they really are liberates me from suffering and confusion.  In explaining that, however, I can now see why working my program with spirituality was a problem for me.  In my disease I am not being honest, I am not always good to humankind.  I can be judgmental, selfish and filled with shame for the being I am when I am in the food.  Suddenly, I was not feeling worthy of my spiritual path nor my way of life.  Everything came to a crashing halt and I was no longer worthy of even my own kindness, nor anyone else's.  Until today, I did not share anything about my spiritual path - not with friends, family and not even my life partner KC (who also happens to be Buddhist).  It needed to be my chosen path, my walk and embracing what it means for me.  We have different  views, different passions in life and different spiritual awakenings and paths to follow.  Also, one more thing that came to light today for me.  When referring to my Higher Power and handing this disease over, when referring to the word God within the program - for me i turn these things over to nature.  My love of nature is something powerful and strong and much like Buddhism brings me inner peace and keeps me on the forward path.  Buddha is my guide in life, how I live and face the world, and of course within.. and nature is my release and setting it all free to the Universe.

7/ Step Work - I started working Step One this week with the principle of honesty and practicing it in all our affairs. Many eye opening moments, especially my endless list of character defects, behaviours in my disease and how it affects the people around me.  When I am being selfish I think these things only affect me and no one else cares, nor does it hurt anyone.  Au contraire.  I am ALSO facing the people who are not healthy for my well-being and know that I have to face those situations as well as my emotions and past in upcoming steps.  My plan is that each new thing I come to terms with, and each step I will blog about to share.  Not easy stuff to put out there, however I am passionate about the fact that when I started I felt alone and didn't know what to expect or who to turn to.  If this blog/facebook page can help ANYone (and it has helped many who follow and many who do so by messaging me privately) than I feel good about this as a service.  As a first year nursing student I am also passionate about my knowledge in addictions/eating disorders to help others in the future also. 

8/ Triggers - (food mentioned in this paragraph, if it's a trigger for you skip to #9 please) Wow, today is the very first day I have actually been able to nab my triggers.  I guess I've always *known* but it's amazing what honesty will bring to the surface for you when stuffing it all down usually.  One thing that does *not* trigger me is people mentioning food.  I have to be respectful in loops and meetings, however, because often the mention of foods are a trigger for others.  People mentioning or seeing it in print, does not bother me.  Nor does commercial ads or seeing pictures on facebook mostly.  In my food plan, I have developed a way of dealing with those types of cravings.  I work at a recipe to make something similar with safe, healthy portioned foods so that I am not feeling deprived.  One of my fave foods was pizza, for instance.. I now make one using pita bread and the healthy ingredients (vegetables and chicken) with some feta cheese sprinkled on top. Toast that in the oven and I find it tastier than eating the real deal.  So what DOES trigger me? Emotions for situations in my day can trigger me, visually seeing the food, smells definitely can be triggering for me, boredom can be a trigger for me because I am used to filling my time with food, eating food in front of the television or computer is a trigger for me because I eat mindlessly and endlessly and often my binges were here at this computer desk..Also, taking on other people's issues can be a trigger for me.  There is a healthy way and then an unhealthy way which usually depends on the person I am helping.  Some people tend to be very negative, soul-sucking and live on excuses, and those are the types who can trigger me.  I am sure I have many more triggers out there to identify, but for today I feel very happy that these ones came to light. 

Lastly - While relapsing was difficult, I believe I needed to hit absolute rock bottom to even appreciate what Overeaters Anonymous, my tools and the support system I have offers me.  It has helped me to open my eyes and see this disease for what it is worth, AND, to accept my powerlessness finally here with you all *today*.  My commitment to helping myself and reaching out proves that I now accept the necessity of all of these things combined for my health and well-being.  I don't want to be a statistic to this disease by losing my life.

A lot of big steps forward for me this week.
Celebrating 14 days of abstinence, that's two full successful weeks, once my head hits the pillow tonight! 
And I am so grateful for every single one of you, on and off this page, who share your challenges, fears and successes and who inspire me to do the same.
Gaining my life and health back one small step at a time. 

Much love, sylvie