Monday, September 26, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake - Take that Ed!

I am thrilled to be able to write that it has been a remarkable summer of health and recovery for all of us. It has been amazing to watch Emily slowly disentangle herself from the remaining Ed thoughts and behaviours. When I wrote in May, Emily was doing really well with eating and her weight but, she was still very obsessive about food. She spent a good chunk of everyday focussing on food related activities like looking up recipes, shopping for food, and cooking and eating 'healthy' food. This continued over the summer but started to wain about six weeks ago. Now she spends a normal amount of time getting breakfast and preparing lunches.

This morning she told me that she feels like she has started to rediscover her ability to eat intuitively. She said even a month ago if she was hungry she would think, 'will I have a granola bar that has 100 calories, or will I have 300 hundred calories of fruit and dip?'. Now she thinks 'do I feel like having a granola bar or fruit?'. She also told me that the only thing that triggers 'Ed' thoughts is feeling overly full. But the good news is that she recognizes them for Ed thoughts! It gave us the opportunity to talk about how replacing every thought and behaviour associated with Ed would take some time in the same way as it took time for them to build up. She also told me about a memory that just came back to her about the first time she noticed that she liked the feeling of being hungry better than the feeling of being full. That was in grade seven, two whole years before we even started to notice anything. If the disease took over two years to reach it's peak, and two years of rebounds and relapses, then we should expect that it will take two years to dissipate completely.

The things that I still see as being Ed related are her limited repertoire of restaurant meals that can tolerate and her continued outright aversion to a few things she used to love. But there was progress the other night with pizza, something that has terrified her for a long time, after having a small piece, and asking for more, she commented that she was surprised by how she had convinced herself that she hated something that tasted so good.

In the meantime life is blissfully normal. I spent the summer, distancing myself from the role of CEO of the family based treatment process. I can't even remember the last time I went grocery shopping. Today I cracked open a cookbook because I wanted to, not because I had to. But the sight of all of my frantic scribbles from last fall, momentarily sucked me down into the deep dark Ed abyss, reminding me that I have some work to do to shed my own post-traumatic stress. Once I got over my mental lurch I was delighted by the experience of reading the recipes and and seeing all of the possibilities rather than all of the things that Ed wouldn't approve of. I am really looking forward to preparing, sharing and enjoying Thanksgiving dinner this year. It has always been my favourite family meal and even when Ed was with us, it was still enjoyable, but I have a feeling that this year will be extra special for me. I think to mark the occasion I will substitute pumpkin cheesecake for pumpkin pie for the thrill of watching Emily eat cheesecake which for me has become the iconic nemesis of Ed.

So now I find myself, along with others, asking, if Ed will be gone for good. I always believed in the theory that if the brain is not deprived of nutrition for more than two consecutive years, then the disease does not get hard wired into it. I hope this will be the case for Emily and I would not be surprised it is was, but I also wouldn't be surprised if Ed resurfaced. I find myself looking at her behaviours through my Ed filter every couple of weeks. The frequency of doing that is a good measure of my recovery from the trauma. Two years ago I was doing it every waking moment, two months ago it was every week, now every other week. It is not upsetting to have to do it, not like finding my list in the cookbook was, rather I consider it to be my duty to be curious and vigilant until I know she is safe from Ed.

Now that I have so much more time and ease in my life, I am starting to get back to some of my favourite activities like singing in a choir and I just started a 300 hour yoga teacher training program. I will be blogging on the topic of my observations of teacher training as a way to deepen my learning experience. I think the healing power of yoga could benefit the families who are struggling with anorexia so maybe my blog will be helpful in an indirect way. I won't say this will be my last blog on Getting Rid of Ed, but it will be the last one as long as we remain in our current state of health and recovery. I will insert a link to my yoga blog on 'falling in love with myself' in case you have an interest. Namaste!