Saturday, August 14, 2010

"sitting with my feelings"

In Renfrew-land, "sitting with one's feelings" means experiencing discomfort, frustration, anger, and sadness without using the eating disorder as a crutch or distraction or dissociation. So, for instance, when I feel like I'm crawling out of my skin because I'm too full, which I am tonight, I am supposed to live through the absurd discomfort without purging or restricting. I should also coexist with my irrational belief that I've suddenly gained a lot of weight, that I'm totally fat now. UGH SHUT UP BRAIN.

It's noble and reasonable and worthwhile to "sit with my feelings", but in the moment it's really fucking annoying. Whenever a nurse or counsellor or therapist at Renfrew said this, at least one person would kind of freak out, either in the moment or afterwards. It's like UGH SHUT UP, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT THIS FEELS LIKE, STOP BEING SO PATRONIZING. I suppose this is similar to what alcoholics feel. It must be like, yes, yes, for fuck's sake, I know I can't drink, I know I'm a better person in recovery, I know I have an addiction -- but all I want to do at the end of this shitty day is have a glass of wine, is that too much to ask?

The truly absurd thing is that I'm mostly full from too many fluids. I felt dizzy at work today so I had two big glasses of OJ and about 40 ounces of water in a short time period. When you factor in the three coffees I also had at work, then the diet Coke. . . you can see how my stomach feels pretty distended. I feel gross I feel gross I feel gross, but tomorrow's another day, eh?

I almost don't want to end on an optimistic note because I need people to know that this SUCKS, that it is a terrible terrible pervasive feeling. Rawrrrrr, stupid eating disorders.


  1. I have to assiduously watch my fluid intake before eating, or I invariably end up freaking out because, "NO! WHY AM I SO FULL?! I MUST HAVE EATEN A MEAL THE SIZE OF MY HEAD!" ... when, in reality... no. I have not.

    What you articulate is one of the reasons I now prefer support groups to group therapy. Patient-led or at least former-patient-led groups are sometimes easier on the cognitive dissonance. That won't work earlier on in treatment, of course, but having people there who know viscerally that you're not crazy when you're freaking out over xyz food is easier than the PhD staring at you who "knows" about what you're going through, but doesn't know.

  2. Oh, exactly. That's what I miss about treatment. Someone would walk into the room crying, absolutely devastated, and people would immediately ask what was wrong and she'd say, "My father visited and told me I looked great and healthy" and we'd make surprised and sympathetic noises and hug her and say, "Oh, I can't beLIEVE he'd say that." It's not that I doubt non-ED people's empathy, because I have such good support in my life. . . it's just that they don't have the emotional shorthand language where everything is understood and thereby validated immediately -- even if it's about the craziest thing in the world. ESPECIALLY when it's about the craziest thing in the world.