Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A lapse on a slippery slope

Sarah from Bearing, Eating, Being blog told Cammy in a recent comment: "Slips and lapses can be turned around if you recognize what you've done and take immediate steps (as in THAT DAY) to change them."

In eating disorder recovery, there are bound to be slips, lapses, and even relapses (though I disagree that that is a requirement). It truly does matter how we respond to each event in determining whether we slide down the slippery slope or continue to climb our way back to the top. Sometimes, it's an easy choice to climb back up the slope, while at other times, you feel doomed and propelled downwards whether it is a conscious choice or gravity simply pulling you down.

I say all this, because I experienced a horrible lapse Sunday after already being tipped on the edge of the slippery slope. I purged for the first time in over 8 1/2 months which sums only a handful of time in the last year in a half. Somehow, I feel the need to justify myself--was in crippling stomach pain, doubled over, could barely walk, but really what average person thinks about purging when they are in severe pain? Despite feeling much better afterwards, not like some euphoric high but just better physically, there were after effects. This after
effect, I had forgotten about, one that has not happened to me in all my ED years.

Subconjuctival hemorrhage, the medical term for a rupture of a blood vessel in your eye.

Yes, that is my eye in all its bloody glory. Seriously though, I was shocked when I saw this the next day as I was leaving for my therapy appointment. At first, I was very concerned, but after talking to my optometrist, I realized there wasn't much that could be done except a cold compress, prescription drops if there was pain, and waiting 10-14 days for the blood to reabsorb. I spoke to a friend about how this could have occurred since it has not in my many years of ED. Her answer, "well, you're older, your body is older and reacts differently, and EDs are cumulative."

In essence, this proved to be yet another reminder at the ill effects of purging. I know
subconjuctival hemorrhage occurs with other things like a violent sneeze or cough, but there is such an element of shame in the fact that it was purging that caused this. At least, this is the way I feel about it. A few people have asked me about it, and I admit, I make up an excuse that something hit me in the eye. I know I could very well say I was violently ill with stomach bug and vomited, but somehow, that feels too close for comfort.

I truly know it is useless to self abuse myself further by dwelling on this incident. I am positive that purging is NOT going to become a habit again. But the question remains now about what next? Do I dust myself off, climb back the mountain or let gravity pull me down? I know which answer is right and logical, and that is the answer I want to give of course. But do I really
believe it?

Ultimately, I know I'm going through a rough patch with an overgrown number of weeds, and it is not wise for the weeds to continue to accumulate nor the patch to grow any further. Therefore, I need to use some weed killer and monitor the patch. Because, in the end, who really wants weeds anyway?

Note--*I have no clue whether that last metaphor actually made sense.

*That photo was really hard to take. Had it been my left eye rather than my right, it would have been much easier and the picture clearer. I guess you get the idea though.


Christie @ Quit Your Diet said...

Hang in there girl, we all have our slips and slides, I am on that brink, myself. But you are right, self abuse is not going to help the matter, it will only make it worse.

Anonymous said...

Just keep working at cleaning out the weeds. Like my T tell's me, a slip doesn't have to become a fall and a fall doesn't have to be re-lapse. Keep on fighting it.

Sarah said...

This looks so painful. I'm really sorry this happened. I have been wondering how you were doing since your family reunion as it seemed like you were a little shaken up by going and by the changes to your diet/exercise/weight that happened as a result of it. I'm sorry I didn't ask you sooner.

To be honest, wanting to vomit when your stomach hurts isn't just eating disordered. I've had a few friends and family say "I wish I could just throw up!!" as sometimes throwing up can sometimes make you feel better if you have a severe stomachache, so don't beat yourself up too much for wanting to do it; it doesn't mean you're 100% back in the ED mindset. You've still made a ton of progress.

That being said, actually self-inducing the vomiting is not a healthy, normal thing, as you know. So, I guess the best thing is to ask: what are you doing to get back on track?

Gentle hugs.

ola said...

I am sorry about your eye and moreover about its cause. I hope it will be ok soon! On the other side sometimes I wish one of my eye blink red everytime I feel like restricting or overexercising.

I can explain myself right:
I am sure you will get rid of most of the weeds along your path, but the residual weed can sometimes help to stay on a riht track in this phase of recovery! Best luck!

ola said...

Oh there has to be: I can´t explain myself right. But I hope the idea is recognizable:)

Kristina said...

I'm so sorry that things are rough right now, and I definitely understand how frustrating and frightening it is to find suddenly find oneself engaging in such negative and destructive behaviors. I admit that the period of time following a binge is, as you say, slippery and difficult. I don't want to continually beat myself up but at the same time I don't want to shrug my shoulders and not care at all.
I do hope that you can take care of yourself, both emotionally and physically.
Good luck trimming the weeds.
- Kristina

Kim said...

Slipes and slides do seem to be par for the course with recovery. I'm sorry about what happened. Like you said yourself, I hope you don't beat yourself up for this. That just makes things worse when I do that. It happened. You can move on from it. I know it's a blow, but this is a journey. Thinking of you...

Carrie Arnold said...


I'm so sorry you were struggling and I understand very well how easy it is to be tempted to purge when you're stomach is all unhappy. And I think you're incredibly brave for talking about it and being honest. That, to me, is a bigger indicator of where you are in recovery than an occasional slip.

Hang in there- we're all cheering for you.

I Hate to Weight said...

i last binged and purged (threw up and took a couple of laxatives) on june 13, 2008. before that, i hadn't binged and/or purged in over two years.

it was really hard, but i did recover and now it's been 13 months.

be gentle, be kind.

you are incredibly brave to write this. i agree with carrie, this is a much better gauge of where you are in recovery.

Tiptoe said...

Everyone, thank you for your comments and support. I'm always amazed how we can give each other such great support at times of need.

One thing I should clarify about that I didn't really go into details was this episode didn't follow a binge. I think it had more to do with the timing of when I ate and the foods than the quantity. Not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things.

Christie, sorry you are on the brink too. Hope you can pull yourself out of it.

Anon, yes, I'll continue to work on scaling back those weeds. ;-)

Sarah, surprisingly, it looks way worse than it feels. I haven't had much pain, just irritation. Still, I'll be glad when my eye is back to normal though.

As for what I'm doing now. I'm trying hard not to go into some sort of restrictive episode and eat as I had been prior to this. I am not a specific calorie counter, more like a lazy one that just estimates everything unless in restrictive mode. But I am thinking, maybe I truly am not eating enough and that was a reason for the weight loss. I'm seriously thinking of possibly seeing a dietitian if I can get my financial situation to work.

I'm also trying to do more yoga ad pilates, work on breathing and relaxing. I have a good "breathe" shirt, so that is a good reminder. I know in general, I need to work on more self-care things as well, like sleep.

Ola, I think I understand what you are saying. It's good to clear out weds, but some also give us perspective which helps us stay in recovery.

Kristina, That's a good way of putting it--not beating yourself up, but not shrugging your shoulders either. I guess by acknowledging it, then letting it go is a good way to go.

Kim, I like the word slipes! LOL I know I can ultimately move on from this, I just have to keep reminding myself.

Carrie, thank you for your words about me. You're right that it is a good indicator of where I am now versus the very beginning of recovery. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

Lissy, congrats on 13 months b/p-free. That is really great. It does give me hope that I can get past this.

Wrapped up in Life said...

Tiptoe, I am so sorry. But you are right - today is the day that matters. I am thinking of you :)