After I decided that I needed to recover and wasn't blatantly using eating disorder behaviours, I was stuck in quasi-recovery for a long time.
Quasi- 'seemingly but not really'.
For much of this time, I believed that I was fighting tooth and nail to recover. I thought that I was in the process of getting my life back. It's sad to think that I was so misguided because back then, I was so confused why I was fighting so hard and ultimately feeling worse, day by day. I felt hopeless.
Now I know that I was just as entrenched in my eating disorder then, as I was when I was in the hospital, refusing food. That's because I actually didn't really give up any of my behaviours. My eating disorder just made me believe that I had because I had 'allowed myself to eat more' (that wasn't actually the case). When I was counting calories, I was still so stuck in my disordered thoughts, my body wasn't getting the food it needed to restore and my mind was going insane!
Today, I don't count calories anymore, this is something I thought would never be a possibility for me. It seemed inevitable that I had to count calories and that is why I was stuck for so long. I kept trying over and over again to recover by increasing my calories but in the end, it only kept me sick...
Numbers talked to me. And they never stopped.
I'm not kidding. I was endlessly having conversations with myself. I couldn't stop thinking!
Now that I'm writing about this, my ED logic makes me sound crazy because everything was illogical.
I couldn't stop calculating and recalculating (over and over) the calories of everything I ate. That was ridiculous because no matter how much I would plan/fantasise about eating different foods, I would always end up eating the same meals and snacks every day, which meant that the calories never changed. I didn't have to keep checking. But it felt like I had to keep checking.
This goes to show how starving my body was. Although I didn't often feel physical hunger pangs, my mind wouldn't let me stop thinking intensely about food. It was begging me to eat in the only way it knew how. My body couldn't give me physical hunger cues because I was so under fueled that it didn't have enough energy to create hunger pangs. All it could do was make me obsessed with eating. Yet, I didn't listen. I just followed my restricted calorie diet and the cycle continued.
My schedule consisted of walking straight for an hour, turning around and walking home.
I was a human living the life of a robot.
I was so exhausted. Every day I would wake up feeling broken. Understandably so, each day I was eating too little so my energy deficit was getting larger by the day. However, the ED delusion that made me believe that I was 'in recovery' made me feel even worse because I was so confused why I still felt horrible.
Every piece of my body wanted me to sit down and rest for a long long time but my eating disordered rule to keep moving was too overpowering. My obsession with controlling calories, whether it be intake or calories expended made my life look very strange.
I had convinced myself that I had stopped exercising because I quit going to the gym and doing strenuous movement. However, when I was still focused on calories, that only perpetuated the lower level movement I did, like walking, eg. 'the things that don't count as exercise'.
I was so tired but I was convinced that I wasn't exercising my body. It was mindless movement, something that my body had to put up with but that meant, I had no energy to do anything else. I couldn't see friends or have a spontaneous adventure. My days typically consisted of wandering for hours while I waited to eat my next meal.
I often became a statue for a few minutes.
When calories rule your every decision EVER, your options in life become much smaller and everything becomes much slower.
I used to go to the supermarket at least once a day. The trip would take at least 40 minutes even if I was just in there to get a couple things. Going to the supermarket almost became ritualistic. It was the highlight of my day. It was the one place where I was surrounded by people and more importantly, food. I would go in there with the irrational idea that new types of food/brands of food may suddenly have been added to the isles.
I became a statue because sometimes my calorie counting was to slow for my walking. I would have to stop walking and stand really still to catch up on my calorie counting thoughts. I remember people in the supermarkets staring at me while I stared blankly at an array of yoghurts.
I had a calorie target/limit and still ate less.
I was wrong to think that increasing my calories (but still tracking them obsessively) was what recovery was. On top of that...I didn't even increase my calories!
I mean, it was bound to not work.
If I'm counting calories, that means that my ED is in control. So, whatever lies it's telling me that it will allow me to increase my calories' was completely wrong. I would tell myself that I would increase my calories by X amount and on day 1, I would start determined and motivated but somehow my ED managed to make me overestimate everything that I ate. I would round up the calories of my food, or 'accidentally' shave off calories. This only meant that the next day, I would have to shave off the same or more calories.
Even though I thought I was eating more, counting calories made me eat less.
The food I did eat was NOT YUM.
Obsessively keeping within the calorie limit was the main priority. The taste of my food wasn't important whatsoever.
I remember searching recipes for all the different meals I wished I could eat but when I saw the ingredients, I would banish most of them and the meal became not so desirable.
These days, fat-free food makes me queasy but when I was counting calories, I would want less dense food to have an increased volume. For example, I would eat a big bowl of foul tasting low-calorie yoghurt rather than enjoying a normal delicious yoghurt. It sucked. I never felt satisfied.