In the run up to the new school term we are fighting the exercise compulsions because that's the main thing that, according to Ben, keeps him awake at night on school days. Why? Because all night long he's trying to work out how he can fit enough exercise into his day while 'sitting around at school doing nothing' (as he puts it). Not only is that incredibly stress-inducing but he is well aware that it isn't 'normal', that it belongs to the eating disorder and that it has to go from his life.
So this week, while we're on our final summer 'staycation' (in a lovely little cottage high up on a hill in the Peak District) Ben is working on eliminating the compulsive exercise. (His choice.)
The compulsive exercise problem was getting out of hand around Christmas / January time which is one of the reasons why we develped the Recovery Contract - that, and because Ben was in Limboland and we needed to find a way out of it. We agreed certain exercise 'parameters' over and above which Ben agreed not to go. This has worked well for the past 6 months but, even though he only does a fraction of the exercise he used to do in his 'high anorexia' period, it is still exercise that he doesn't ENJOY doing - as opposed to 'normal' exercise which he DOES ENJOY doing e.g. walking in the countryside or playing badminton with friends.
So, this week, we have agreed that he will do ZERO compulsions; just our daily walks around the countryside which is 'normal' for us to do on vacation.
Ben wants to see what this change will do to his weight gain. What is left of the irrational 'anorexic voice' tells him that, by eliminating thecompulsions, he will put on loads of weight when he eats the same calories as he does when he does the compulsions.
So he wants to see if this is true or not.
Likewise he wants to do a week at school to see if 'sitting around all day doing nothing' will result in surge in his weight.
Of course you and I know it won't. But Ben needs to 'prove' this to himself and it's something he's been doing with everything, especially the challenges, over the past 6 months and it's worked well.
Challenge after challenge after challenge has only resulted in a normal weight gain - and not a fast weight gain at that. So he's proved the 'anorexic voice' wrong on that count. And the more he proves it wrong, the more he 'sticks two fingers up' at the 'voice'.
However resisting the compulsion to exercise isn't easy.
In fact it's bloody hard and this has shown in his mood this week which has been low.
But at least he's been open about it.
Today I suggested he use his Grandad as a role model in this. My husband's father was an alcoholic but successfully recovered several years ago. I reminded Ben of how difficult it must have been for his Grandad to eliminate the booze from his life. But he did it. And he hasn't touched a drop of alcohol for years.
I said: "You are addicted to exercise like Grandad was addicted to booze. He gave it up. It wasn't easy. In fact it was bloody hard. But he did it and so can you."
And he nodded his head in agreement because he really admires his Grandad.