Soup du Jour

What’ll it be today? What am I going to eat? When am I going to eat? How am I going to eat?

To live with me is to, periodically, listen to my announcement of which nutritional and/or behavioral hack I have decided to use in my ongoing task of coping with my eating disorder and broken metabolism. To live with me is to notice, at some point, that I’m no longer doing the thing I announced to you a day or week or month ago. To live with me is to listen patiently as, when I get tired enough of things not going well with my eating, I announce my new plan.

I hate it. I despise the fact that I can’t settle on one nice, sensible way of eating and stick to it. Even if it has to be a weird way, I wish I could just pick one and stick with it. There are common threads–for example, being low on carbs is a thing during all but the most fuck-it phases because of my blood sugar issues–but a lot of other things vary.

How low-carb are we talking here? Strict, or more lenient? Am I practicing intermittent fasting? If I am, how extreme? How am I addressing the fact that my body’s satiety signals are pretty much broken, and I therefore need some kind of attention to portion control? Am I using behavioral rules or techniques, such as don’t-read-at-the-table, to help with emotional or mindless eating?

It varies. It varies because I vary. Sometimes I’m capable of certain things, and sometimes I’m not. Sometimes, when things get bad in other ways, being sloppy with food ends up being the least destructive way for me to act out. And, on one level, I’m ok with that. I’m even ok with the fact that all my back-and-forth efforts usually do no more than maintain my weight, because I know that if I weren’t doing my best, I’d be back up at my top weight of nearly 100 pounds above where I am now.

But I hate the inconsistency. I hate the judgment from people who don’t see why I can’t stop the merry-go-round and just eat like a normal person. And, of course, I hate that I can’t just eat like a normal person. Even other people in recovery from eating disorders sometimes judge me for my chaotic relationship with food–surely, if I were doing the emotional work, I wouldn’t flit back and forth like this. I see their point…but it’s the best I can do.

It’s almost as if I have bipolar disorder or something. Oh, wait, I do.

The Other Shoe

I’ve been doing something dangerous recently: taking better care of myself.

After a very long downward spiral of diabetes/low thyroid/weight gain/depression feedback loop fun, things have begun to move in the other direction since spring. It began with a desperate, no-holds-barred attempt to bring my blood sugars under control with a change in eating–a change that, surprisingly, worked well. It accelerated when this change, somehow immune to my eating/weight baggage because it was serving the blood glucose meter and not the scale, began to have the side effect of taking off a little weight. It accelerated more when something about what I was doing affected my thyroid and my levels approached normal for the first time in years. My most recent labs are a thing of beauty compared to the values of last year.

So why is this a dangerous thing?

It feels dangerous because a part of my psyche is convinced good things won’t stay. A lot’s been written about the psychology of growing up in a household of substance abuse and/or violence, but you have to be one of us to know the sickening plunge of fear that comes when the unpredictable trouble erupts. Everything seems all right, then the floor drops out from under you and you’re in fight/flight/freeze mode. And because you’re a kid, sometimes the third one is the only available option.

Anyway, that part tends to make itself heard when things are going well. I have an inner conviction that something awful is about to happen, and when something bad does happen it’s taken as a confirmation that I was right.

The more I feel a sense of hope about the improvements in my health, the more convinced I am that some terrible punishment awaits. The resistance I battle every time I write something or do anything else positive is almost palpable. It fuels itself with everything from little symptoms to relatives’ ailments to the news:  “You, or someone you love, or the planet, is going to pay a price for your selfish behavior. It’s only a matter of time.”