Long time, no blog. I’ve had lots of ideas floating around in my mind about things I’ve wanted to write about, but I haven’t been able to string the words together quite as I’ve wanted to. I figured though, that I may as well give it a crack. This blog post is something I’ve been thinking about recently, something I’ve needed to write for myself and be reminded of, and something I’ve wanted to write for those who may also be at a crossroads similar to my own. So here we have it – a blog about the overwhelming nature of recovery from an eating disorder. Thanks for reading, pals. X
As recovery from an eating disorder ensues and continues and is sustained, it just seems like it gets worse and worse. It seems like it gets harder and harder, and the fight to do the right thing in following meal plans and exercise guidelines becomes increasingly difficult. As weight is restored, as the body undertakes physical changes, as you learn to sit with and experience uncomfortable feelings and emotions in the body – sadness, anger, fullness, satisfaction, frustration, disappointment, desire – things feel harder than ever. And you feel stuck, as if you’re teetering dangerously on the edge of a precipice. It’s easy to toy with and consider running back to the behaviours that feel “safe” and “comfortable”, whatever they may have been – the binging, the purging, the self-harm, the overexercise, the restricting, the counting calories, the lying about all of these things – but the mere thought and idea of it makes your heart simply sink because you KNOW what an awful and dark place that was to be in. And you KNOW deep down that you don’t want to ever go back there again.
But the idea of moving forward seems ludicrous. It seems impossible. It seems like a never-ending task and it feels enormously overwhelming. Let me tell you this now – you will shed more tears during recovery than you ever will during any relapse.You will feel more emotions than you’ve ever experienced and they will engulf you and your entire being. You might yell and scream and fight yourself and everyone and everything, and the thoughts and lies that the eating disorder feeds and floods your mind with will become all the more strong. The eating disorder will fight as hard as it can to remain in control, and remain in existence.
One of the hardest things will be being honest with people – letting them know that you’re still struggling, maybe even more so – and that now is the time you need their support more than ever. Sadly, perhaps people will consider you to be feeling good and okay because physically you appear to be better, and you’re doing what needs to be done. Being forthright with those around you and who are there to support you will both educate them and benefit you enormously – trust me, this is the time when you need all the support you can gather.
For me, I have been doing better these last three months than I have in the whole of these last three YEARS. And I feel awful. I’ve followed my meal plan to the T, I don’t exercise more than my dietitian permits, I’ve eaten foods I haven’t consumed in a long time and challenged myself on a number of different levels. It has been painful and difficult and I have had many, many days where I have wanted to give up. I have had many, many days where I have wanted to start restricting again, to resume exercising a few hours a day and to cease seeing my GP, dietitian and psych on a regular basis. And I have had many, many days where I have simply wanted to just give up completely, and to die. I have had days where I don’t believe I can bear the distress of weight restoration any longer. It’s not every day, but it’s a heck of a lot more frequently than I’d like.
But here I am, still plodding along and still doing what I need to, despite it all. Why? Why would I do that, why would I put myself through the pain that recovery from an eating disorder entails? It’s not because I’m strong or brave or courageous or find it easy. It’s not – not for anyone. No, the answer is simple: I do it because I hold hope that recovery from an eating disorder – FULL recovery – is possible. I do it because I believe that freedom will eventually come. I do it for my health, my family and my friends – the people who love and care for me and wish to see me well. I do it because although I may not feel like it at times, my body DESERVES to be nourished and looked after and cared for, and ultimately I’m the one who is able to provide that for myself.I do it so I can bake and eat apricot pie and custard with friends, so I can have energy and spend my days living my life to the full without being plagued by thoughts of calories and numbers or needing to compensate and “make up” for food I “shouldn’t have eaten.”
I do it because in 10 years time, I want to look back and be proud of how far I’ve come. I want to be proud of the changes I’ve made, no matter how big or small. My eating disorder could have killed me long ago and it didn’t. I’m taking that as a clear sign that I was created to live, to survive, and to thrive.
So … When the battle seems to have no end in sight, and when you want to quit or give up or feel overwhelmed, when you just really don’t want to do it anymore… Think about how far you HAVE come. Think about the life ahead of you you have to live, a life full of study and friends and family and love and relationships and travel – a whole life full of meaningful and valuable experiences. You’re alive, and that’s worth fighting for above all things. You are so very precious and valued, and you deserve to have a life beyond this illness. I believe that more than anything.