Tuesday, May 20, 2014

This is what relapse looks like

So my mother came and visited us last weekend. There are no words besides "epic disaster" that can describe what happened.

I stopped talking to my mother last June. She got into a car accident which then launched her into a panic attack in which she repeated "Your father's going to divorce me" over and over again. For eight hours, until I went home. My father has been emotionally abusive my whole life, but I also forced him to get medicated back in 2005. This "I don't like what you did, now I'm divorcing you and leaving you with nothing" behavior was typical and frequent of him before he was medicated, but not really afterwards.

So, a week later, I checked with my uncle. My uncle said that indeed my father had said that he was going to divorce my mother and that he would be out of the house by August. At that point, I wrote my mother a letter saying that I was going to take some time for myself. When I was ready I would contact her. I ignored my father because he'd made it pretty clear over the years that I didn't matter much.

A month ago or so I figured that I should contact my mom before I go to Spain. I figured things would be alright since, after all, my eating disorder had been behaving very well since I stopped talking to my family.

So my mother came to visit and dumps on me some new information: no, my father never actually threatened to divorce her this time. All the info I used to make a decision to cut them both off was apparently false.

Or was it? I trust my uncle more than I trust my parents. I still haven't been able to get hold of my uncle.

Unfortunately, I have been able to get my hands on lots of food. I binged seven days straight after my mother left. My binges were so bad that I gained seven pounds in that week. In the entire history of my eating disorder, no binge lasted longer than four days. This was singularly the worst binge I've had in thirteen years.

So why did I binge? I wanted to numb the feelings of confusion, anxiety and deceit. I can't trust either one of my parents. At that point in time we also had decided not to go to Williamsburg, so I had no motivation to run or to try to eat healthy. I completely threw in the towel.

My dietician has been very helpful. She made it clear that anytime I interact with my parents, I need to be prepared to deal with ED screaming at me for a good week afterwards, not just hours or days. I'm seeing both her and my therapist this week.

And I think it may be time for another letter to my mother. I obviously need more time away from her.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Where debt and my eating disorder meet

Ever wanted to know what it's like to have a binge? Well, here you go.

*Trigger warning for those with eating disorders.**

from shirt.woot.com
This morning I continued a conversation with the Chief Engineer, one we've been having for a couple weeks now. Do we cancel our trip with my aunt and uncle to Williamsburg or not? Cancelling it will save between $200 and $300.

I absolutely love the foot race that's the reason we go to Williamsburg every year. The race in 2012 was the first time I completed an 8k while still struggling daily with my eating disorder. It was a huge win for me, proving that I can still run even though I'm not thin anymore. Last year it was even more special because I don't have a relationship with most of my family anymore, except for my aunt and uncle, and I got to spend a lot of time with them.

The CE and I informally came to the conclusion that Williamsburg is probably an unnecessary expense right now. It left me seriously depressed the whole morning. My mother is also coming to visit for this mother's day, though I'm still so angry that she refuses to divorce my abusive father that I can barely talk to her anymore.

By 10:00 this morning I was so upset and so unsure of what to do with my feelings. The idea of going to see my aunt and uncle at another time just doesn't seem to live up to the fun we always have in Williamsburg. And besides, ED says that if we we're not going, then I have no reason to stay in shape, right? No reason to eat well, right? Go ahead and binge.

And that's exactly what happened.

First it started with the chocolate in one cabinet. Then the chocolate in another. Then it turned into the ice cream in the freezer. Then to the chips. Then I stopped. I was more or less out of interesting food. At this point I turned to the vending machines, but stopped. I had promised myself that I would skip the vending machines until our debts were paid off. So that's what I did. I can spend $10-$20 on binge foods in a typical binge. I kept eating what was around the house. Telework days are not good for my eating disorder. My "no vending machine" rule also helped.

The Chief Engineer won't be home in time for dinner today which leaves me on my own. There's not too much interesting to eat at home, so hopefully this will help slow down or stop the binge. But I really want tomorrow to just get here and fast, so that I can make peace with not going to Williamsburg and figure out how to motivate myself to run or go to the gym without knowing I have a race to prepare for.

The obvious solution is to call up my uncle and just ask if we can visit a few times this summer. It just doesn't feel the same though. But I don't wanna.

What would you do? Go to Williamsburg because it's good for your mental stability? Or go to your aunt and uncle's place more often?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

How to stick to your grocery budget when you've never been able to

I don't know about you, but I can NEVER stick to a grocery list when I go shopping. I always end up adding a few things to the cart that I forgot, or some items that looked so good that I could've sworn they were whispering "buy me!!" in my ear. 

But of course, right now we're trying to spend as little cash as possible because of our debt situation. Going off-list is not a luxury we have anymore. Besides, it's easy to waste food when you buy based on wants not needs. I'm proud to report that for the first time ever we kept to our grocery list! It ended up saving us a lot of money. Normally our grocery bills are around $150 (twice a month). This time?  Drumroll please.....we got all the food below for $95. 

Bok choi, canteloupe, two cans of tuna, organic carrots, bananas, green beans, a sack of oranges, six kiwi fruit, two zuchini, a benzoate-free salad dressing (yay, no allergic reaction for me!), two packages of English muffins....
1/2 gallon ice cream, 1 gallon milk, 1 tub butter, two gallons orange juice
Two large bags of frozen veg, and a pound each of sausage, pork mince and beef mince. 

How to Stick to your Grocery List when You've Never Been Able To

1. Bring a friend or spouse and keep each other accountable. When we shop, the Chief Engineer and point out to each other the things we chose that weren't on the list and then discuss whether we need to put the item back or not. 
2. Remember why you need to stay on track. I intentionally looked at my credit card statement and my bank account balances right before I went to the store. They reminded me how not good our financial situation is right now and those feelings were fresh in my mind when I went to shop. Extra motivation to behave! You could even write your credit card balance on your list, which should remind you of your priorities while you shop. 
3. Try shopping the store backwards. When you buy the frozen stuff first it gives you reason to get out of the store in a hurry because who wants melted ice cream? There's no time to browse for foods that might be interesting -- you just have to get in, get what you need, and get out. 
4. Use alternative transportation to get to the grocery store. The times where we've biked or taken the bus to the store we've bought far less than usual because we can only buy what we can carry. Oreos and other boxes of treats we don't need don't fit in the Chief Engineer's bike panniers!
5. Check what you've already got in the freezer to avoid buying duplicates. 'Nuff said.
6. Reward yourself for sticking to the list. Sometimes I'll add a treat food to my grocery list before I go. If I end up putting something I don't need in the cart, I'm no longer allowed to get the treat food.
7. Make a list of what to get next time while you're doing your current shopping. That way you'll know that you can have that item, just not right away. It then gives you time to think about whether or not you really want that item by the time you go to the store again.  

What's grocery shopping like for you? Do you stick to a list, and how?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Refrigerator archaeology

Growing up in a hoarded house, I never knew what I was going to find in my parents' fridge. Some food would be fresh, but most of it got shoved to the back and would stay there for months or even years. Needless to say, I try to keep my fridge from looking like my hoarder parents' fridge.

Today we took stock of the fridge. This is everything that had gone bad. 

I was pretty surprised, it was a lot of food! Half of this stuff I didn't even realize was in the fridge.  
Our fridge and freezer aren't that stuffed. 

My sister-in-law had an idea about this. She's an urban farmer who tries to make sure that she wastes practically nothing. She suggested that a whiteboard could help. Each week she lists out everything in the fridge and freezer and then makes her weekly meal plan. They scratch things off the list as they use foods during the week. At the end of the week they know what has to get used first for the next week.

I figured, why not? So I made a "whiteboard" (ha!) out of an old envelope and then we planned our meals for the week. We're much less likely to buy doubles of things if we know what we already have.

We'll see if this is a habit that sticks or whether I give it up. But it would be nice to waste less food, as food in D.C. is terribly pricey. 

How do you avoid food waste?