Changes In Routine: ANXIETY! ACK!

Please have a Knut.  It will help.

Changing routine is easily one of the most distressing parts of dealing with an eating disorder, whether you're the person with the disorder or the person who has to be around them.  For the anorexic, bulimic, or binge eater, having to change something that is comfortable is acutely anxiety-producing, and for the person/people around the patient, dealing with that anxiety (or trying to ignore it until it passes) can be maddening.

Tuesday and Wednesday decidedly do NOT make up my usual routine.  Some helpful hints for eating disordered folks, and those around you, just as they pop into my head, to keep me busy while I try not to burst into tears over here.  (I woke up Wednesday on the verge of tears I was so anxious, totally confused.  "Why am I having an anxiety attack all of a sudden?" I asked myself.  "Duh," I realized later.  I mean, really.  It's a little ridiculous.)

Tips for Eating Disordered People

Tip 1:  Weighing yourself.  Don't do it right now.  Give it a few days, if you must do it at all.  If the number goes up arbitrarily on this one day, it's not related to what you ate in the last 24 hours anyway (that's just not how it works).

Tip 2:  You probably have a "problem area" that causes you more anxiety than most of your other body parts put together.  DON'T TOUCH IT. PAWS OFF!  In fact, put on the piece of clothing you have that makes you forget about that part most easily.  For me it's the waist (as it is for so many of us), and I'm wearing a lovely Empire-waisted maxi dress today.  Not perfect, but it helps.

Tip 3:  Get out.  Take a walk (with your billowy clothing on).  It'll get your mind off things and let your body do one of its positives, move.  Just remember - paws off.  No grabbing at pieces you hate.  If you're anorexic or an over-exerciser, time your walk and don't allow yourself to go over 30 minutes.  (Don't go if you don't think you can limit yourself to that.)

Tip 4:  If you run to anxiety before depression, like I do, remember to breathe.  Standing up and nearly passing out does nothing but exacerbate anxiety, and unless you actually have a heart/blood pressure problem, it's the anxiety that's causing the dizziness.  You don't have, say, a brain tumor.

Tips for Everyone Else

Tip 1:  For the love of Knut the Polar Bear, people, don't go, "Wow, you ate that whole [food]."  For the love of Knut, DON'T DO IT.  IT WASN'T A VERY BIG OMELET AND I HATE YOU.  *ahem*  Sorry.

Tip 2:  Actually, tip 1 pretty much covers it.


Cornell is Slicing Little Girls' Clitorises. Because Female Bodies Are Scary.

Individual and varying female sexuality:  Aiieee!  Scary!  Let's lock it up!  Or, you know, slice it up.  Either or.
(La Grade Odalisque, Ingres)

I don't keep up much with Feministing or Feministe, so Les Comtesses know to forward something when I'll find it particularly inspiring or appalling.  Guess which category THIS falls into.

Why - whyyyyyyy??? - is there this cultural obsession with women having "normal-looking" genitals?  I never understood why parents would want to roll the dice on an intersex child rather than allowing the child to mature and make the decision.  I can understand parents' apprehension about the child's navigation of social norms, and about the child's own confusion, but I'm not sure how arbitrarily making a decision then having to surprise your girl child about why she can't have children is a healthier option?

But when you aren't even talking about a clearly intersex child?  When you're clearly talking about a female newborn?  All that really comes to mind to say about it is, *ehm*


I mean, sure, it's okay for the penis, scrotum or testicles to vary from one male to another so very widely.  But you'd think that vulva and clitorises are supposed to come from a single, "correct" mold.  I mean, labiaplasty on women with no history of trauma to that region is sad enough to me.  But clitoroplasty and subsequent testing on little girls?  What.  The Fuck.

Men's bodies can look pretty much however they want (until they get WAY too fat, then look out! he'll kill us all with his selfish piggishness!) but a female body has to be managed right down to the most private detail - a "detail" that should have nothing to do with some arbitrary esthetic at all.  The point of the clitoris and the labia is not to be pretty.  In fact, if you believe Eve Ensler *bless*, the entire point of the clitoris is to, you know, orgasm.  The clitoris is special, isn't it?  Why on earth would you risk taking away part or all of clitoral function from your newborn, who will one day be a woman who might, you know, want the option of a fully pleasurable sex life?

We can say what we will about the barbaric FGM practices in certain societies (Somalia, Egypt, etc.) and decry the morphing of women into nonpersons in countries that enforce veiling (Saudi, Iran, etc.).  But in the area of expecting women to look a certain way, are we really so much better?  The conformity of the female genitalia is an obsession that's just as weird as abayas, if you ask me.  And people are obsessed.  I get over a thousand hits a month on my Brazilian wax post.  Personally, I make grooming decisions based around comfort rather than esthetics, since the husband could not care less (sorry - TMI).  But do I think for a second that the over twelve thousand people a year reading the Brazilian wax post are there because they're thinking about comfort rather than what's perceived as the trendy thing for female genitals right now?  I don't think that for a second.

It's a bizarre, bizarre obsession, and in the case of these little girls who will grow up to be women, and who are being fondled by adults throughout their childhoods???  It's heartbreaking.



Ophelia, Odilon Redon

"I will go mad!"
"Good idea.  I went mad for a while, did me no end of good."
(Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, Life, the Universe and Everything)

Sometimes it really is the best option when reality refuses to behave.  But here we're going to just briefly mention both kinds of "mad."

Restricting, bingeing, purging, etc. have a measurable, physical effect on the brain's workings, and when you try to rearrange the wiring again, it really does feel like going mad, especially if you don't particularly believe in anxiolytics for your particular situation.  The irrational reactions that recovering anorexics/bulimics/what-have-yous experience when rebuilding an appropriate nutritional platform is cited as difficult for ED-inexperienced therapists to empathize with.  These reactions are also one of the most common causes of relapse, giving up on pulling out of a relapse, etc.  Relapse and refusal to comply with treatment are both, naturally, frustrating for a treatment team (just as they are for the patient, mind you).

One can see why a therapist who doesn't specialize in EDs (or who doesn't have much experience yet) would balk and fume, if the frustration got to be too much.  I mean, what does such a reaction look like to a casual observer?  Some chick freaking out about cheese (e.g.).  Eating disordered patients (especially anorexics) are cited as provoking some of the most negative responses, including anger, in therapists across the psychological board.  

Boy, that's an achievement, isn't it?  You've got your psychopaths, your sociopaths and your Narcissistic Personality Disorder patients, but anorexics and bulimics are the patients who provoke some of the strongest reactions, including anger and revulsion?  That is interesting.  That is interesting to me on a sociological level.  To me that says that even trained professionals at a very real level have problems perceiving eating disorders as not, essentially, a choice.  Yes, if you want to get Existential about it, every action we take is a deliberate choice, but the point is: when you get into eating disorder symptoms (like an addiction), after a certain point your brain takes over and it is demonstrably chemically and physically harder for you to pull out of those choices.  And professionals who treat anorexic and bulimic patients know this.  And still, the madness.  It's interesting.


In Brief

After tonight's dinner, my former nutritionist would be very happy with me.  I am not so happy.


That is all.

The Listening Nymph
Jean-Jacques Henner


The Defeatist Omniscient

Learnings.  I has them.

Thursday evening I saw my doctor.  I weighed in at about the same weight as four weeks ago.  (A pound lower, but that doesn't really count.  A pound up or down, NPV = 0).  I've gotten to the spot where I definitely don't see myself as underweight (literally don't see, that is).   Not that I'm ever good about recognizing my own weight or shape, but I've gotten to the point where I see myself in certain recent pictures and go, "Oh.  Really?  Huh."  This is not to say that my body weight or shape is significantly different than it was in, say, April, just that I've reached the point where my eyes are sort of seeing a continuous looped image of my body recorded maybe a year ago.  I look at pictures of myself last May in Sonoma and see what I see in the mirror or looking down at myself right now.  I look at pictures of myself right now and I do not see the mirror.

In general, the doctor news is fine.  I'm having trouble taking in enough calories, but otherwise I'm plugging along.  The doctor is making me visit her every four weeks on the theory that eventually her prodding will get me to take the step of setting up a therapy appointment.  I'm what they call "pre-contemplative of treatment."  The stages from episode/relapse to recovery are often described as precontemplation, contemplation, determination, action, and maintenance (maintenance being recovery, more or less).  Where I, and many like me, get caught up right about now is that we know what we need to be doing.  We know what our disorders are providing for us (and preventing us from providing for ourselves).  We know our other options.  We know there are techniques and therapies, CBT, DBT, MET, what have you.  But we're pretty sure, somewhere in our crazy brains, that since we know all these ideas and treatments are out there (theoretically we didn't know about them, the first time around), and since we're not doing them, it just means that we can't/won't succeed at them if we actively try.   We know about them, so they must be pointless.

It's a logical fallacy of the first degree.  Maybe that's why it's so widespread in the relapsed ED community.  Logical fallacies are very popular with us humans.