I have shied away from talking about recovery for a long time because I’m ‘fine’, I’m recovered right? 11 years on from when this all started I’m just not sure my feelings valid. I mean, I eat now, when I once didn’t; I’m not so underweight that I’ll drop dead; and hey I've even had a couple of periods to show for my increase in physical health.
Having an eating disorder has become an accepted part of me and my day, almost like brushing my teeth; just who I am and what I think about. I can function pretty well with it, I’m an expert at plastering on a smile and my bubbly personality sees me through just about anything. I’m able to go to work, I can attend pretty much all social occasions and make it work, I can eat out… so whats the problem?
Well a few things.
Presence for one. Sometimes it feels as if I’m not there, almost like the past decade I’ve been on automatic, going through the motions. I zone out, I can’t connect, I’m on a different frequency.
And maybe thats not all that surprising, The Minnesota Starvation Experiment highlighted how even a small amount of restriction can impact us (read more HERE). It can cause a preoccupation with food resulting in everything else becoming background noise, and can cause us to put things off - not only as we wait to have a thinner body, but also because hunger might actually postpone living too. Well, I've been on a diet of sorts since I was 14.
And that restriction, that feeling I can always do more in some way, has bled into other parts of my life too - I never feel enough. I criticise my work, my social skills, my kindness, myself, I don't allow myself time off… because surely if I work harder; eat less, workout more, spend more time on my laptop, push and then push some more; I can make things work, I can fix everything - myself included.
This is what quasi recovery feels like for me, surviving, but not always that okay.
What I have come to realise is that there is more. I am allowed more. And so are you. My feelings are valid because I feel them. Eating disorders do not have a weight, they do not expire. So I have asked for help. As vulnerable as that makes me feel and as hard as it is to admit I am still not okay I have decided to be brave.
I hope you do too.
You deserve freedom too. Know that.