I realized when looking through my last few posts that this blog was starting to sound a little preachy… like some kind of “How To” manual for Eating Disorder recovery. Which was definitely not the intention of this blog! Though I am a therapist, I am also a human (and a hot mess one a lot of the time). I am not an expert on eating disorders, life, or anything else, and I can really only speak about recovery based on my own experiences. Eating disorder recovery is not simple, and I don’t want to give off the impression that it is.
I’ve had victories in my recovery, and I’ve had setbacks. It’s often easier to talk about the victories because it feels safer and less vulnerable. (Definitely don’t want to look too “messy” on the internet for everyone to see! 😉 ) So in my last few posts, I’ve been speaking from a place of security and safety.
But I don’t want this blog to be safe. I want this blog to be real, relatable, and a place where I can be authentic and share my experiences with recovery- both good and bad. I don’t think there is any benefit to people reading only about my good days. There is just as much for us to learn by sharing our struggles and downfalls as well as our victories.
The truth is, I haven’t been in recovery for that long, and I don’t have all the answers. I certainly do not yet identify as “fully recovered,” and I still have bad days almost as frequently as I have good ones.
The other day, I was in a session with my nutritionist and she was praising me for how much progress I’d made in recovery. I shared with her about a time the day before when I bought a small bag of potato chips for a snack and didn’t feel guilty at all about it (a big WHOA! for me). Then I ate 1/2 of the bag, felt satisfied, and saved the rest for later (big WHOA #2). I left that appointment feeling confident and strong in my recovery. NEVER before would I have allowed myself to eat potato chips for a snack, then been able to feel satisfied without scarfing the whole bag.
I’ve GOT THIS. I thought to myself. Maybe I don’t really even need to keep seeing the nutritionist much longer! Maybe I’m almost recovered (ha!).
That night, I went out to meet a friend for drinks. We were out at the bar having a great time, until I saw a girl across the bar wearing a cute crop top and jeans. “OMG, I love her outfit!” I thought to myself. Which was immediately followed by, “Oh yeah, I’m too big to wear stuff like that anymore.” My mood immediately plummeted. I was sitting in the bar with my friends surrounded by fun and laughter…and I was on the verge of tears because I wasn’t as skinny as some stranger across the bar. Might sound ridiculous to some of you, but if you have struggled with an eating disorder, you likely know exactly what I’m talking about.
I barely had anything else to drink that night, and the next morning I woke up feeling both silly about my reaction to the girl in the bar, but also tempted to skip my breakfast. I was amazed by how quickly SO many disordered thoughts came pouring back into my mind, trying to convince me that being skinny was worth so much more than anything recovery had brought me.
I was able to reach out and talk to a friend about what was going on that day, and I made the decision to stick to my meal plan, despite the thoughts in my mind telling me not to. But there are other days still when I don’t. Recovery is not a linear process, and my recovery journey so far has been anything but perfect. The second I think “I’ve got it! Almost there!,” life throws me a curve ball, and I find myself taking one step back again. I still struggle to accept my body, and I still struggle to include certain types of foods into my diet. Some days I still feel moody, irritable, and consider giving up on all of it. Then other days, like in the photo above, I’m able to go out, relax, and have a beer with friends as if I’d never had an eating disorder at all.
Despite the ups and downs of recovery, I still feel that for every step back I take, I continue to take two steps forward, and that’s what keeps me convinced that it will be worth it in the end. I might not be there yet, but I know there IS an end in sight.
I am so appreciate to everyone who is taking the time to read this blog, and I hope that it will be helpful as I continue to share some of the ups and downs of this journey.