Have you ever heard the phrase: “I’m not where I need to be, but at least I’m not where I was.”?
That’s the current definition of my life in recovery from an eating disorder. And it’s really tough!
Last year my food restriction was the worst it’s ever been, my thoughts were incredibly distorted and my weight was the lowest yet. I was truly in the grips of my battle with anorexia.
I was losing around a kilo every week, too underweight to legally drive, having bi-weekly appointments and calls with the ED team and supported meals with a wonderful eating disorder organisation in my city. It was intense but it was necessary to turn things around and stop me getting into dangerous territory – hospital.
Fast forward a year – and a crazy year at that – I receive less support and am no longer in the danger zone weight wise. My relationship with food is better, I can manage three meals on certain days, I exercise less obsessively and don’t feel as tired and weak. On paper I’m doing much better.
But that only tells half of the story. The rest isn’t so rosy.
One of the most difficult things about trying to beat an eating disorder is quasi recovery – a limbo-like state where you aren’t relapsing into your illness but you aren’t experiencing the benefits of true recovery either.
My weight may be higher, but my thoughts are still plagued with food and exercise routines, awful body image and the daily longing to be back in the driving seat – restricting my intake and feeling less heavy!
It’s pretty exhausting and can make me feel very hopeless. Like having an angel and a devil on each shoulder.
Each time I feel motivated enough to improve, it’s accompanied by an awful sense of guilt for defying the disordered voice in my head and desperately unhappy about my increasing size. I then revert to compensating by reinstating some of my old rules and curse myself for thinking I could ditch them.
It’s like the physical progress is not matching the mental progress leading me to feel that my weight is spiralling out of control and my head isn’t catching up. I’m still over a stone away from my healthy weight but I worry I’ll reside in a weight-restored body yet keep my disordered mind which frightens me.
I know it’s common and I have been told by both professionals and fellow ED sufferers that the discomfort of progress can be drawn-out and unpleasant. I have been supported to find coping strategies and distractions which, whilst helpful, don’t always mask the torment.
I guess I have to keep going in order to get to a point where the daily stresses around food loosen their tight grip on me and I find a way to make peace with my body again.
I tell myself:
It’s like pulling a plaster off – peel it back slowly and you drag out the pain, but rip it off and whilst it hurts more at least it’s over quicker.
I’ll keep going, because I didn’t come this far to only come this far, but it’s a huge challenge and I have great sympathy for others who are in the same boat.
We’re all in this together x