This is the final part of a series about getting help if you suffer from disordered eating. Read parts one, two and three here. I am not a professional; everything I say is based on my own experience. Always consult with your own doctor. This post mentions specific food and ED behaviours – do not read if you are easily triggered.
This final installment of Coming Clean is probably the hardest one to write because, unlike the rest of my story which is in the past, this part of recovery is my present. What part is that? The actual recovery. When you hit your bottom, you long for recovery like a refreshing oasis. But then you have to do the work, you have to deal with your emotions, you have to open up the past and yes, you have to gain weight and stop using food as a coping tool. And you know what? There will be days when recovery is shit.
I have found that when I’m really working the program, my disease kicks into high-gear. It’s like it’s fighting me because I’m fighting it. Maybe that’s all it is. Sometimes it wins, sometimes program does.
I received the above in an e-mail from one of my online support groups. It was a bad day, a slip day, a day where you feel like you are back at square one. Unfortunately, recovery is full of those days.
In the first three months of moving back home, I didn’t know what to do with myself. After three long years, I had no diet to fall back on. I couldn’t feel hunger or fullness, so knowing when to eat and when to stop was a mystery to me. I was binging like there was no tomorrow and because of this, I quickly became weight restored and all of my recovery was focused on the anxiety and the emotions. I was put on meds to help sort me out and went to therapy every week for a while.
This all sounds fine and well but it frustrated me. First of all, no one was talking about food. I didn’t (and honestly still don’t) know how to eat correctly and how much food I actually needed. I was still binging which depressed me and was an issue that no one addressed in a major way. I was getting no practical advice and I wanted to kill myself because I likened my new weight of eight and a half stone to obesity. Everyday was a bad day in the beginning. I just wanted my ED, my best friend, back.
I had to throw out my size 6/8 (US size 0/2) clothes and have over the last year gained over 50lbs. I’m not going to lie, I am not ecstatic about this. But then, I have to tell myself that marginally overweight is still better than bone-thinning, period-lacking, underweight fragility.
Day by day, my moods improved. After about 6 months of therapy, I was allowed switch to an “as needed” basis and retain that status today. My attitude changed towards exercise – I now exercise for the joy of it rather than the calorie burning potential. But its not like you can say “Give it 9 or 10 months and you’ll be fine.” Almost a year on and I still have bad days. Yes, they are growing fewer and farther apart but there are some days that I wish I was 7 and a half stone, that I wish I could survive on 1000 calories a day again. These are other days (and these stuck around for the whole year) where I would binge from waking up until going to bed, days when I would be sick as a dog and yet continue to eat, days when I was so convinced my life wasn’t worth living. I still struggle with those days too.
These are the days that you will be tested. These are the days that make the ED seem easier than recovery. These are the days that separate the men from the boys and they suck. But you ARE strong enough to get through it. It does get better. It is a slow process, I won’t lie, but eventually it does improve. And I can truly say that, even with the days that make me wish I never uttered those words to my mother that day in Marks and Spencer, my life is better now.
Nobody said recovery would be easy, only that it would be worth it.
Tell yourself that everyday. One day – you’ll believe it.