When Does Recovery End?

Its been a while since I have written an ED themed post and there is many a reason for this – college, hospital life, a departure from very personal blogging being the main ones – but I feel it is time to retouch on the subject.

I know exactly the moment when I went from the depths of my ED to the depths of recovery. I’ve dicussed it at length so I won’t rehash it (but check out my Coming Clean series if you’ve missed it.) Beginnings are very clear cut. Things happen and they continue to happen. But with such a complex issue as recovery from an eating disorder (or any major change  in life,) when do we stop being “in recovery” and start being “recovered”?

There are a lot of opinions on the matter. There are those who truly believe that complete and total recovery is possible and others who think that maintenance of “in recovery” will be the closest they will ever come to escaping their ED. And throughout my own recovery, which began almost 14 months ago, I have teetered back and forth between the two opinions equally in both time and confusion.

Of course, one can easily see when the process of physical recovery is over; for me that was around February 2011 – it wasn’t about the weight, it was about noticing that the negative aspects of my ED (that I had become alarmingly used to) – the constant cold, the night sweats, the yellowing whites of my eyes, the protruding bones, the overwhelming tiredness and dizziness, the occasional narcolepsy, the perpetual feeling of being slightly empty – all these had disappeared.

What hadn’t gone, of course, was the psychological turmoil – the real issue behind any ED. I was still exercising intensely (and occasionally to complete exhaustion) so even though I was eating enough, I was trying incessantly to continue to burn the calories. With every five pounds I gained, I deemed myself too fat and began a new “healthy living” plan that would end up in me marginally restricting and binging to make up for it. Binging made up a lot of those early days of recovery – and I was assured that this was normal due to my lowered metabolism and starved body.

Then I stopped restricting and began exercising in a healthier way. I got into therapy and joined OA – but the binging didn’t stop. And I was able to rationalise it away because I was a healthy weight and I wasn’t restricting – and as far as  the medical professionals were concerned, this was enough.

OA seemed to work over the summer and I was all praise about it here. Then I started college. And I realised that OA takes over your WHOLE LIFE. You are on ALL THE TIME. And although I felt “cured,” I was almost constantly in a state of guilt, worry and fear of reprimand – it was quite the double edged sword. So on the eve of my orientation to college, I left OA for good.

And now I am in a state of confusion as to the whole recovery process. Neither I, nor anyone with eyes, could ever worry that I am on the brink of starving to death anymore. In the last 14 months I have put on over 4 stone (around 60lbs.) I have gone up 10 BMI points and made the transition from underweight to overweight. I am not sure what to do or how to feel. I have stopped exercising, I ignore healthy livingn blogs, there are days that I binge, there are days I restrict. It feels like the eating disorder hasn’t left me, just changed forms.

If ED has an end, then why do I find myself thinking of the law of conservation of energy – an ED can neither be created nor destryed, only changed to another form… Or maybe the disorder is more cyclic than linear – I have been like this before: I was 15 and it was mere months before my first “diet” started.

There is no real conclusion to this ramble because there has been no real conclusion to this process. The question left to me is this: Is recovery a matter of “yet” or  “ever at all”?


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