Late-Night Life Update

[If you were a little confused by the last post, I'm sorry; I know that's not the kind of stuff I usually post - you come here to read my endless posts about my lame life, I'm sure, or (more likely) the recipe posts that used to be such a big part of this blog and which I have neglected lately (this might change soon!).]

Once again I am blogging when I should be sleeping. Nothing new there and I don’t think this will change in the near future because lots of things have happened, some of them quite literally life-changing.
I’ll probably forget to mention half of them, but here are those I can remember right now.

The most baffling one is probably that I got accepted into university in one of Germany’s most popular university cities straight away, meaning that I am officially a pharmacy student now – I still can’t quite believe it.

Something that’s no less astounding is that I actually managed to find an apartment close to my university – the area isn’t nice, exactly, the building is old and the kitchen is a so-called “single kitchen” (which basically means it’s tiny, has no oven, a microscopic refrigerator and a sorry excuse for a stove – I guess singles aren’t allowed to bake cake or eat well?) and to top it all off it’s quite expensive, but it’ll do for the first half year at least, I guess.
It does have a nice, new floor and a new bathroom and it’s quite big, so that’s good, but then there’s the slightly alarming ancient light fixtures and wrecked doorbell, too… anyway, with a bit lot of cleaning and fixing things, it’ll definitely be habitable. I have people in my family who have experience with installing lights and such, so that’s good.

I’m also quickly learning how to do things like finding an internet provider or power company, how to build a bed with storage (interested in a tutorial?) and how to find out if the guy you want to rent a flat from is trying to cheat you out of your money (people who offer fully furnished stylish flats for a low price, who live in another country, don’t reply to your questions and instead ask you to pay 1000€ in advance via Moneygram? Yeah, definitely scammers that should go to prison). Going to IKEA is definitely the most fun of all the adult things that come with renting an apartment.

There’s some unfortunate news as well: my Vitamix container is broken… the blades are mounted in a ball bearing and those aren’t waterproof, so sooner or later they’ll rust and stop turning. As it took six years for this to happen, I’m not particularly angry or grumpy, but it’s a major design flaw of the Vitamix and it sucks that it happened right now when I’m just about to move to a flat with only half a kitchen. I was looking forward to eating more raw food and more smoothies and soups, but that won’t be happening for a while, I guess. A 160€ Vitamix container isn’t exactly budget friendly, you know?
I might try to fix it myself by ordering a blade assembly part and replacing it, but I would have to order it from the US (takes ages and is expensive, meh).

Okay, on to the less life-changing things.

I dyed my hair with henna recently, which was interesting and turned out great – my hair feels even nicer than usual and it’s a reddish dark brown colour with copper red roots right now (I’m growing out faded black dye).
The colour and condition are the only good things about my hair right now, sadly. I’m still growing out the awful layers I was coerced into getting when I last went to the hairdresser (tip: extremely thick hair (iii, for those versed in hair things) and layers don’t mix, ever) and the cut looks like an old mop that’s been attacked by an axe murderer with bad aim.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this already, but I took up running again a few months ago and it’s going really well! I’ve fallen in love with it all over again and I experienced, by accident, why athletes train at high altitudes with low oxygen concentration – running with less oxygen is extremely difficult, as I found out by wearing two very restrictive sports bras together for a few weeks of running. Not being able to breathe properly during those runs led to me acing my hilly, chilly run (with a good sports bra) today.
DO NOT DO THIS, OKAY?
I didn’t know what I was doing and you should never purposefully deprive your body of oxygen. Believe me, a little more bouncing is better than almost passing out after a ten minute run.

(As an aside – if your favourite underwired sports bra is poking you so badly you want to rip it in half, rustle up a temporary ghetto fix by sticking on some duct tape. Not glamorous, but it works.)

I think that covers most of the major life events. You should now feel adequately informed about what’s going on in my life (and it only took me 900+ words…).

Oh, one last thing – at the beginning of the post I said that I might start posting recipes more frequently again. As I only have half a kitchen (and ~10 hours of lab and school every day), those recipes will be very simple and probably cheap, too, but that’s not a bad thing in my book. The “Snapshot + Recipe” post was really popular, so I guess you like these kinds of recipes, too.

Eh.

Hank Green recently wrote an article about click baiting “for good” in which he talks about stealing from the click baiter’s toolbox to make good content get more attention.
The idea of providing people with an interesting bit of information they weren’t expecting is a pleasant one, for sure, and great content deserves all the views it can get, but…

… I despise click baiting anyway.

Or rather, I despise the fact that it is necessary. Being the relentless idealist that I am, I am deeply convinced that people prefer to consume good content rather than provocatively worded crap with a saucy picture… but apparently I am wrong. I refuse to believe that the actual “content” of the typical click baiting stuff is something that genuinely interests people, though; I think the incredible amount of clicks they are able to generate is mostly due to their placement and ubiquity.

Take YouTube, for example. A few years ago, they introduced “recommended” videos, something which caused a bit of an uproar because back in the good old days people (by that I mean me) preferred to make their own choices about the content they consumed. Nowadays you can’t watch a single video without having a bunch of either “viral” or sponsored videos shoved in your face.
It doesn’t matter if the subject is something The Almighty Google has identified as something you might like; the whole “tailored to your preference” pretense is just that – an illusion. There are YouTube networks that have a task force of people working on ensuring that the videos of their people tick all of YouTube’s search algorithm’s boxes, so don’t talk to me about “improving my user experience”.

Another thing that irritates me is the list posts and websites that have become as ubiquitous to the internet as water is to Earth. Very little actual work goes into these kinds of posts, so these websites are literally making money off other peoples’ (mostly unsourced/uncredited) content – that’s insane.

I could go on and on about this (I won’t, because it’s late and I should be asleep) but basically it all comes down to this: I want to be able to choose the content I consume and not have the internet equivalent of a child poking me with a stick follow me around everywhere I go. It worries me that click baiting is necessary to make good content get the attention it deserves, but I will endure it if it means that good content continues to be produced.

I will rant against click baiting for stupid crap or earning profits off someone else’s work until the end of time, though.

But

I had some new biometric photographs taken yesterday.

It was a disaster, unsurprisingly, but I confirmed something I’d been suspecting for a while now – having my photograph taken affects me in a similar way as getting a haircut does.
I lapse into a terrifying spiral of obsessively criticising every tiny detail about myself and tearing down any confidence I may have built up since the last “incident”, thus opening the flood gates for the accumulated self-hatred I have stashed away somewhere in the dark recesses of my horrifying brain, drowning any remaining flickers of self-confidence.

There is nothing quite as scary as observing how something ordinary can smash through the firm hold I’ve painstakingly constructed to reign in those destructive thoughts. Nothing disgusts me quite as much as giving in to the urge to obsess over my appearance. And yet, there is nothing I can do to stop it.

But.

Having someone to talk to about these thoughts – someone who offers to tell me about their own coping strategies, someone who simply listens or someone who pulls me back up from obsessive hell to planet earth – helps. It helps so much.

Thank you.

 

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As I write this, it is Suicide Awareness Day. Remember, your support, your presence, can make a world of a difference to someone. Don’t abandon your friends when they are struggling with mental disorders. Encourage them to seek professional help, but stay close to them all the same.
Take five minutes to read this: metanoia.org/suicide
International suicide help lines: suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html
Text-based suicide help line: imalive.org

I don’t mind

I’ve been feeling a bit confused lately.

You see, ever since I started recovering from my eating disorder, I’ve been a bit obsessed with food. That is to be expected and is a common occurence among sufferers of EDs of all kinds, especially those in recovery. (You need to rediscover food, after all.)

This obsession was quite difficult to manage initially, because I would read food blogs all day, every day and stare in awe at all the beautiful photos – photos of food that I had denied myself for a long time. This led to me becoming quite resentful towards one family member, who kept telling me to eat “normal food”, which to them meant bread with butter or pasta and similar things.

I thought that if I had to eat, I should at least be able to eat food I really liked, meaning green smoothies, salad, whole-grain toast with coconut butter – predominantly healthy things.

Not a bad thing per se, but it meant that I never did give up control of my eating habits entirely. Again, I’m not quite sure if this is a bad thing; all I know is that I still have a problem with people telling me what to eat.
I can “go with the flow” when I’m, say, at a friend’s house or eating at a restaurant, but if a family member tells me to eat (or not eat) this or that, a simmering anger bubbles to the surface.

I’m not particularly good at managing anger – it was the only emotion I felt when my ED and depression were at their worst; searing, irrational anger that I could do nothing about – so I do explode sometimes. I know I’ll regret it after 20 minutes – as fierce as my anger is in that moment, it never lasts – but I can’t help it. I’ve finally built up a wall that prevents me from internalising my anger and I am happy about it. I just need to find a way to let go of the anger.

“That’s interesting and all, but it doesn’t quite explain why you are feeling confused,” I hear you thinking, and of course you are correct.

The reason for my confusion is this:

A few weeks ago, everything I’ve detailed above – the obsessive thoughts, the resentment, the prickling undercurrent of dormant anger – suddenly faded.

I didn’t feel the need to check the kitchen to get an idea of what I would be able to eat.
I didn’t mind having a piece of toast for breakfast instead of my usual beloved bowl of porridge.
I didn’t slip into the particular pattern of restrictive eating that tends to make itself at home in my brain when I don’t eat for several hours or skip a meal.
I didn’t care about the sugar content of the occasional snack I was given.
I didn’t push myself past my limits when exercising, just close.
I didn’t linger on destructive thoughts after overeating.
I didn’t browse food blogs with nagging suspicions of disordered eating behaviour poking me in the ribs, I just didn’t browse them at all.

… and I don’t know why.

Snapshot + Recipe: Curry-Roasted Cauliflower with Lentils

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Curry-Roasted Cauliflower with Lentils

1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garam masala (or use more curry powder)

1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable broth
1 small onion
1 small piece of ginger root

Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Put lentils, halved onion, ginger, salt and broth in a pot and simmer until tender and mashable. (Red lentils will become very soft when cooked, almost like a puree.) Remove the ginger and onion pieces.
Melt coconut oil and mix with salt and spices. Toss the cauliflower florets with the spice mixture and bake for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned and tender. To serve, toss the roasted cauliflower with the lentil mash and sprinkle with sesame or sunflower seeds.
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Rewind. Relapse?

I recently thought about how very ironic it is that I, probably one of the world’s most impatient people, make my readers wait for months between blog posts.
I would apologize, but I’ve done that so often already and I probably won’t become a dedicated, dependable blogger in the near future so I’ll just congratulate you on your spectacular patience. I wish I were as dedicated to blog reading and writing, but I’m not. There’s a grand total of three blogs I read regularly, and I don’t even keep up with every one of their posts.

“So,” you’re probably wondering, “if she hasn’t posted anything in months, why is she writing this post now?”. Good question.

The truth is that the most urgent reason why I’m typing this right now is that exam period is fast approaching and I’m frantically, desperately procrastinating.
The other less urgent but no less valid reason is that a lot has happened between the last post and this one.

For one thing, there has been a change in the thyroid situation (see here and here for previous posts on the subject) – I switched to a different brand of levothyroxine, was prescribed 150mcg by my new GP and switched back to taking it in the morning. I feel a lot better and I believe it’s due to all of the above. I sleep better and subsequently feel more rested, I have more energy and I feel less depressed overall. The change has been significant enough that I’ve felt comfortable with taking up running again, and that’s improved my mood as well.

Another thing that has happened, that has been happening for quite a while now, is that I’ve very slowly slipped back into disordered eating. It’s not too obvious yet, and nobody noticed, but I’m very glad I caught myself. I am constantly ill at ease with my body, but I’ve managed to hold the disordered eating at bay for the most part… until now.
When I suffered from anorexia nervosa, I was the restrictive type – I did restrict my food intake, but I generally based my restrictions on the type and not the amount of food. I didn’t even count calories until I was taught to do so in inpatient treatment.
This is important because I now struggle with this – I don’t restrict foods as strictly as I did before (though I still don’t eat certain foods) but neither do I restrict the quantity… and that’s the problem, right there. I have major issues with portion control, which stem from my particular pattern of disordered eating. I am perfectly comfortable with not eating anything for 18 hours (from 8pm until 2pm), I won’t even be hungry, but I balance this with eating too much in the afternoon/evening. Now, you might think that this is something similar to ‘intermittent fasting’, which many people practice with great success, and you would be right. For me, though, this pattern is destructive. I’ve already caught myself feeling guilty about listening to my brain and eating something around noon a few times, which makes all kinds of alarms go off in my head.
There is some beautiful irony in this whole scenario, which is that this behaviour was never as strong as it is now, when certain members of my family are denying me certain foods (which they deem ‘weird’ and ‘not normal’) and rather strongly encourage me to eat what they believe is normal food.
It makes sense, of course – their behaviour leaves me with the distinct impression of having to hand over control of my eating habits, which I am not comfortable with at all. This is due to my eating disorder, yes, but also to the way I eat – vegan, high raw diets demand a certain level of mindfulness to be balanced and nutritionally adequate, which I am very aware of.

For now, I manage. I feel okay physically, I make a conscious effort to avoid thinking about food too much (it’s working quite well so far) and I just downloaded Recovery Record, a brilliant (free) app that offers support to people in recovery (get it here).

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As it is currently the last day of #NEDAwareness week, I encourage all of you to reflect on your eating habits now and then – even if you have recovered successfully, relapse is always a possibility. If you know someone who has suffered, is suffering or might be suffering from an eating disorder, offer them support and help them get the help they need.