Today, during my morning scroll through Facebook I saw a video that had been shared for a new Netflix show. The person who had shared the post seemed excited about this show. Unfortunately, I was not so excited after watching the trailer.
Adult Eating Disorder Recovery
I’m sure you’ve heard it all: “work with a treatment team,” “love your body,” “throw out the scale,” to name a few. So, I’m not here to tell you what you already know. Even then, if knowledge was enough to recover from an eating disorder (ED), we’d all be in the centerfold of Recovery Today. I’m here to give you some strong, lasting jewels of advice that were cornerstones in my own personal journey with ED recovery during pregnancy. Or, for lack of more graceful words, I’m here to help you and your baby survive—and thrive. Because, let’s get real for a minute: Babies born to HYPERLINK "https://www.anred.com/pg.html" mothers with ED are at higher risk to have birth defects, be born prematurely or at a low birth weight, have lower IQs, have cerebral palsy, be retarded and emotionally infantile and dependent, have underdeveloped social skills and the inability to form successful relationships with other people; and mothers with ED are more likely to miscarry or have a stillborn.
Sometimes I get caught up in the future. Tabitha talked about this in one of my favorite podcasts with Thom Rutledge; that sufferers are so overly focused on the future and that is totally me. It’s the constant wonder of how I will be one year from now, one month from now and even, one meal from now. Of course, these are not positive wonderings.
One of the biggest unknowns for me is how and what I will eat once I have stabilized and live in the world as a recovered person. While I struggle with doubt and fear and anxiety about eating today, I can push through this thinking "I need this, I need to gain, I need all this food to recover, rebuild and restore my body" and I get that there is no such thing as too much food in recovery. There is no such thing as too much food in recovery. Those last 2 words stop me.
I’ve been on this Earth for 36 years and I’ve lived for 12 of those.
I say this, because for the past 24 years of my life, I’ve struggled with an Eating Disorder. I say “struggled” because Eating Disorders are not something people enter into willingly. They are not some hobby that people take on for reasons of vanity or selfishness. Quite simply, they are a mental illness and not a choice.
Affirmations; statements said with confidence about a perceived truth. Affirmations have been a staple of self-help and self-improvement work for decades. They have helped so many people make significant changes in their lives; but they don't always work for everyone. Why can one person have great success using this tool, while another sees no results at all?
"Breaking the Disordered Rules"
So here I sit at 12:20pm eating my lunch.
What is that ED? I’m not allowed to eat my lunch until 1pm?
‘No lunch before 1pm’ is just one of the many, many illogical rules that you force me to follow. I know how this works.
Being in a body is a whole new thing for me. It is completely different than merely, having a body. I have had a body and to be honest, I tried to hide from it, most, if not all of my life. Writing that makes me sad. The human body is an amazing wonderful gift. The body allows us to be in life, to explore, discover and connect with people, nature and the world around us.
It’s been a while since I have seen my little brother. I say “little,” but he is actually 6ft2, a good 5 inches taller than me. Again, I say “little,” but he’s actually a 21 year old man now. Every time I see him, he seems to have grown. There is only 2 years difference in age between us. We grew up together. We both have brown hair and blue eyes and glasses. Yet, I have Anorexia Nervosa (AN) and he doesn’t.
Recovery is a glorious, messy, scary, overwhelming, anxiety-producing, beautiful and magical process. Where to start I do not know, but I want to share… As the tears start to form in my eyes, I want to share, because this process is hard, challenging and takes so much mental work. You just couldn’t try and explain it to anyone, but you know that everyone who is reading this post, is working so hard on their own recovery. You know the mental work it takes. It takes pure determination and persistence. It takes a daily, mindful effort. I want you to know I am proud of each one of you because any Eating Disorder (ED) is mean and will tell all sorts of lies; including, that you won’t recover. The process is an adventure and will test you along the way, but it is also the most amazing journey; to begin to feel again, to come alive. To be able to have freedom in my head for moments that are clear. In these moments, I can be in touch with my true self. The ability to fully hear other people when they speak without a barrage of thoughts flooding in. To be able to concentrate. To see children playing, to see a flower bloom, to taste chocolate and feel you are allowed to have it. To be in the moment without having to run away. To sit here and type without noise in my head; these moments are the gifts of recovery. The tears come because for so long I thought that even though I had hope I would recover, I truly didn’t believe I could. So many years I shared with ED but the truth is I can recover and so can you. I am having moments I never thought I would. I am filled with hope and I want you to feel that hope too. It is never too late and ED will kick and scream but we can all heal and move beyond the illness.
Living with an eating disorder is like living life stuck deep, deep inside a long tunnel. It is dark in there. So dark you cannot see your own hand in front of you. You are blind; a kind of self-induced blindness to the outside world. However, you find that this place provides a strange sense of comfort, like a warm, soft security blanket. No more feelings of inadequacy, no more fear and no more pain. No one or nothing can hurt me down there. I am safe. These feelings are a misconception though. One day, something inside of you clicks. A little light globe has begun to glow inside of me. You slowly awaken from your delusion and realise that this place is not so comforting after all. It is dark and lonely and your security blanket is not so warm. It now feels cold and prickly and is wrapped so tightly it is strangling you. The darkness deceived you and you wonder how you let it coax you so far down into the tunnel.