I find myself thinking about what post-recovery me will be like; I also hear the statement “I just want my old self back”. Do I really though? Because quite frankly, the person I remember prior to the disorder was not emotionally or mentally comfortable. I was not the best version of myself that I could be. In-fact, I think that recovery wouldn’t last very long for anyone in that matter if individuals returned to who they were prior to their illness. What is the point of working so hard for your life only to return to the same state of mind that sent you in for a nose dive in the first place? In theory, our mind thinks that the person we were prior to the illness is who are meant to be, but that is the person that the illness brought out in us. Recovery is about breaking the habit of thinking who we should be and really thinking about how free we will feel. It’s about breaking the thought that everyone’s recovery is all sunshine and rainbows- no one recovery is alike. Recovery is not meant to be comparison pictures you post on instagram about how much weight you have gained or how fit you have become; definitely be proud of those accomplishments but, also remember that recovery is getting the mind to a healthy place. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Thoughts about how your recovery should go and comparing yourself to another in recovery will hinder your process more than you realize. It is easier said than done but reminding yourself to just breathe will help you ground yourself when things are getting a little too overwhelming. Another overly glamorized misconception that rarely has any light shed on is the fact that relapses in recovery DO HAPPEN! Individuals who have not been in the recovery process themselves will immediately jump to the conclusion that relapse is a “failed” attempt at getting better. Relapses are so normal and clinicians expect it to happen- try your best to not get discouraged, rather pick yourself back up and continue where you left off… you are human! Having a bad day is totally normal but don’t stay in those bad days. Allow yourself to feel the sadness, madness, happiness, or confusion that comes with this life altering choice- feeling is important, don’t push it down if it is too painful, learn how to sit with your feelings and tolerate them. Feelings can be icky but they are an essential component in the recovery process.
You are loved. You are worthy of healing. You are wanted.
Defeat. One word, six letters, and two syllables that carry so much weight. Some days, it’s “just one of those days” when it feels like the universe is against us and no matter what, we can’t seem to catch our breath. Today is one of those days for me. It’s one of those days when literally and quite honestly, everything feels “wrong”. I had purged yet again after consuming what most would see as a normal thin-slice of cake. I turn to my safe-haven, the shower, a place where I could purge and watch my guilt slowly wash down the drain. A place where the water echoed and drowned out the coughing sounds of me chocking on my vomit. kneeling on the floor of my shower, hunched over, and crying at the immense feelings of regret. As I looked down, I saw the stomach that I despise more than I could describe; tears and negative comments were flowing and the question “why” was repeated on a loop. Needless to say, I felt defeated. We have all gone through a period of time when we avoided looking in the mirror because the reflection of who we have become, is much scarier than facing the very problems we are running from. Holding hands with our depression, our regrets, and anxious minds are the very things that have us feeling defeated. Attempting to live up to who others think we should be is damaging to who we really are. Feeling defeated in a way is sort of comforting; we don’t have to be afraid that in any moment, our happiness will once again become a foreign feeling. While that thought process is understandable, taking a moment to ask ourselves: wouldn’t we rather enjoy parts of life (even if those periods of enjoyment are short) than live in a constant state of defeat? It is up to us to change our thinking; sometimes, the way we perceive a situation is not truly looking at all of the facts. Changing our view and the way we think is not only important, but is also crucial to how soon we get out of the cycle of defeat.
you are worthy of love, you are needed, and matter.
Change is a part of life and we just have to accept it. When we stop fighting change and start working with it, we realize that there are some actual opportunities hidden within. Everything and everyone we encounter will have some sort of effect on us. For the majority of us, these changes happen subtly over the course of a few years; we tend to not even notice until we look back to a certain point in our lives. This past year and a half, I have changed the most. So much to the point that sometimes I feel completely unrecognizable. This last year has challenged my limits, made me soar to the sky, and sent me crashing to rock bottom. I cried more, I laughed more, and spent a lot of my days in confusion. I lost friends that said they would be here with me until the end. And I learned that sometimes those “that will never happen to me” situations, may actually happen to you- it definitely did for me. I have also gained incredible friends, ones that have taught me and inspired me more than I could have possibly imagined. They make sure that I don’t take life too seriously, but push me to work hard every day. These saints are there for every ab hurting laugh and every heartbreaking cry. I had to figure out how to let people in while also stitching up my wounds on my own. It was not easy and I spent a lot of time questioning every move I made. But, I can’t and won’t regret a thing. I have learned too much and experienced too many important things to look back and say ” I really wish I could take that back.” Am I proud of all of my decisions? No. Did I say and do things I probably shouldn’t have? Yes. But those are the things that have helped me grow and it was all worth it. The person I am now isn’t as afraid to make mistakes- as long as I learn(ed) from them. I thought that I was strong then, but I’m even stronger now. I know how to listen to my heart without completely ignoring my mind. I’ve learned how to let things go and not bottle up all of my emotions. To be open to new people and experiences; most of all, making those around me feel appreciated. With every loss, I’ve gained something new. I’m still young, I haven’t figured it all out. I’m still going to make stupid mistakes and life is still going to test my limits. That’s okay. I’m on a journey to be the best version of myself possible. A flower has to grow through dirt before all of its beauty is shown.
As always, you are worthy of love. Worthy of healing. You are needed.
The loud voices crashing like waves against a boat that’s just barely staying afloat. You’re inside me, Ana. You’re killing me, Mia. I have tried to starve the negative thoughts and feed my hungry heart but the purging took over after Ana was starved of her powers; they balance each other out in an unbalanced mind. And so back and forth I go, yo-yo-ing with recovery. They say it can’t rain forever but the thunder just gets louder, the lighting strikes a little harder, the rain falls a little faster, and the boat- it sways a little harder. They say “you’re depressed because you don’t go outside enough” but really, truly, it’s because I can’t escape my head. Then they follow with an unsolicited comment of “if you eat healthier, you’ll be fine” but what they really don’t know is that these voices in our heads are crashing against a boat that’s barely staying afloat …
Eating disorders are like fight club- we just don’t talk about it. paradoxically enough, the things you aren’t supposed to talk about are the things you want to talk about more than anything. What people don’t get is that skipping breakfast 2 mornings in a row or over exercising after a thanksgiving meal doesn’t mean you have an eating disorder. It is the loud tone-deaf voices in your head roaring in various volumes that “you’re not skinny enough, you’ll gain 10 pounds eating this breakfast, if you don’t exercise today then you can’t have dinner tonight” like a broken record player. All of this is going on while the individual with the eating disorder is trying to complete school work, get ready for work, or even enjoy time out with their friends / family. The only way to quiet the internal voices is by complying with the eating disorder. The individual thinks to themselves “if I just skip breakfast, then I can get through the day and I can run this meeting with a clear head”; again the cycle never ends because once they get to lunch they repeat the same statements to themselves that skipping the meal will quiet the commotion that goes on in their head. But one with an eating disorder will rarely ever speak about how bad they’re truly doing because in all fairness, we always think we aren’t “bad” enough. Also, most of us have had a negative experience or two when sharing about our eating disorder; negative facial expressions imply that the individual will think differently of the person with the eating disorder or even change their behavior toward them. More often than not, those with eating disorders don’t get help until it’s too late because they would rather suffer than open up about their struggles. The brain is a complicated, strong organ that will never be fully understood for an overwhelming amount of reasons. When does the skipping a few meals, purging, or binging become diagnosable as an eating disorder? It becomes an eating disorder when you are no longer able to function “normally” in your daily life. it basically becomes an eating disorder when your mind is no longer really your mind and the emotions, voices, and behaviors take full control. One thing you can do to help someone with an eating disorder is keeping the comments to yourself. You see someone eating that has anorexia, bulimia, or BED- save yourself and don’t fucking comment on what we are eating, how much, or the caloric value of our food. Those with anorexia still eat, those with bulimia don’t always purge, and those with BED don’t always binge.
Throughout my journey with recovery there have been multiple occasions when I wanted nothing but to give way to my disordered thoughts and behaviors. Typically, I was always able to reach out to a close friend or to my therapist and scramble out of that rut. Lately, things were different- the thoughts came but they never left; the behaviors shortly followed and they too, never left. It was almost as if I didn’t spend these last two years working through trauma, loss, and learning new coping skills. Almost as if none of that mattered to my disorder- none of the hard work and time I took off from college just to get better… only to get “bad” again. This time around I knew what I was doing, I knew that I was willingly picking my disorder over basically my whole life. Positive mantras and mindfulness will only get you so far- those disordered thoughts are sneaky. My therapist told me she wouldn’t let me give up and that meant the world to me (in the moment) but now, none of that mattered anymore- I just wanted my bones back. I had texted her that I was choosing my disorder over recovery and every hopeful, helpful, and caring message bubble that popped up was invisible to me. I was done, I was giving up for good this time and she knew that. I wanted to take back what I said and just keep the fact that I chose my disorder a secret; I was secretly hoping that continuing therapy would allow me to eventually find the pathway I was astray from, keeping me from mentioning anything to my therapist. As I sit here on day 2, denying my grumbling stomach of any food, I wholeheartedly wish that I could be skinny again. I appreciate my therapist more than I could explain- she is the only therapist I was able to open up to, along with being the only one who actually cared. Maybe when I am sick enough for treatment, I will come back.
Always remember that you are worthy of love, help, and happiness.
Love always, Claud
I like to call this phase “almost recovery”; the gray shaded area of you that wants to recover but can’t seem to put your whole heart into it. Logically it makes sense but emotionally, your heart can’t quite catch up yet. You’ve read and re-read all of the self-help books Barnes & Noble has to offer but you just can’t seem to let your heart follow your heads footsteps. You’ve watched people on your Instagram feed recover and watched years worth of videos on YouTube of vloggers posting about their recovery – yet you are still left wondering when your time will come. When will you finally make that decision to love yourself just enough to choose recovery, all of recovery and not just the bits and pieces that seem easy enough. Your life is worth fighting for. You are worth fighting for, but, nobody is going to do it for you. Everyday we are faced with choices and then comes a time we have to make a decision; will you decide to live your life in-between being happy and sad or will you buckle down for the ride of recovery and stick it through just to see the light and the end of the tunnel? I myself have, and still do have, the problem of being indecisive with recovery. It’s almost like I just want to dip a toe in and then pull it back out when things get too rough – essentially when the feelings get all too real. I have come a long way from where I started, but it is not where I want to stay; I am proud but not content. Fear is such an easy emotion to give into during recovery, it entices you with all the ‘what ifs’ and leaves you wondering if your decision was the right one. Regardless, recovery will always be here – especially for those that are willing to give their all to be unapologetically themselves.
You are worthy. You are loved. You are needed.