Chances are if you’ve stumbled upon this page, you’re like me. Searching for answers, help, validation, recovery from an unhealthy relationship with food, body image. Other wise you would not be here. Maybe you still tell yourself , you’re fine and don’t have a problem, but looking for recovery blogs/ sites is not normal. Or, perhaps you know you have a problem with food, exercise, restriction, body image and you want to RECOVER.
There is no shame in asking for support…
Whether you are contemplating seeking help for starting recovery or just needing extra support in recovery, there is NO shame in this.
My mother in-law reminded me of this just this week. I just came off nights. ( I am a doctor). During those nights I received a nightly text from her “ have you stopped and snacked yet, it’s very important munchkin” I am incredibly grateful for this, this love and support really helped in moments where it could have been easy to listen to the ED voice. There are times like nights, times of stress and busyness where I need a little support and I’m not ashamed. On these days I celebrate little victories and focus on gratitude, like how grateful I am to have this person rooting for me.
Eating disorder recovery is hard. It is the hardest thing I have ever done, likely the hardest thing I will ever do.
Anorexia crept into my life slowly and in a surreptitious manner. It took me a long time before I saw it there and I remained in denial for even longer.
I became a hollow shell of myself. My eating disorder overshadowed my entire being.
I started running when I was 11, this was my happy place. I had always been a happy, bubbly easy going child. I first recall feeling uncomfortable in my skin when I was mid teens, following comments from some boys at school about my ‘muscled arms’. It didn’t lead to me doing anything about it and I also didn’t really care about being thin at this time. I suppose the comment began to chip away at my subconscious and wear me down. Eventually athletics training became a way I could hide my disorder.
I remember becoming very health conscious and cutting food groups out of my diet as early as 14, I deemed bread and chips to be “unhealthy” and I cut them out of my diet. I was confused at the time why I was doing this, but I passionately believed this was the right thing to do and I remember telling my parents I no longer ate bread or chips because “I didn’t like them”. The first time I noticed my rigidity was a family holiday and instead of enjoying these foods I refused them despite my best friend at the time and parents trying to persuade me otherwise and I remember feeling “clean” and “good” for refusing. It became an addiction. Restriction became my drug.
This would become my norm and increasing rules and rituals cemented.
I was tired all of the time, I underwent extensive medical tests, yet my eating disorder at this time remained hidden from the spot light. I was diagnosed with a bone marrow disorder and this further overshadowed my eating disorder and fueled my need to control.
I would force myself to attend athletics training sessions despite feeling exhausted. I would eat right before training, knowing full well it would make me sick during the practice, and I would be praised for working hard.
No one could have stopped it happening. And the shitty thing about eating disorders by the time they are recognized they are already entrenched.
It wasn’t until almost a decade later when my eating disorder had robbed me of my personality and my health, I was forced to confront my demons. By now I was working as a medical doctor and there were times where in order to make important patient decisions it would take up any remaining energy I had left.
There were times where my vision would blur when I stood, if I stood for long periods or too fast I would pass out. Still I refused to acknowledge the eating disorder’s presence.
No matter the appointments I attended, the eating disorder was so entrenched in me by this time I was still losing weight. The eating disorder would gaslight me, telling me I didn’t actually have a problem, it wasn’t a big deal. My mental state was deteriorating. The smaller I got, the narrower and more warped my view of the world became.
Threatened with being sectioned I knew I needed to fight for something.
My husband was incredibly supportive and so determined to help me get better. I wanted so much to make him happy and give him back a life, and so I fought. I fought for him until I had the motivation to fight for myself.
Everything goes on hold when you are battling an eating disorder or supporting a loved one.
My husband would leave work at the drop of a hat to attend appointments and support me at meal times.
Life paused because of my eating disorder. The shame and guilt of this is insurmountable and weighs heavy. The only way I could improve this, was to fight for my recovery and get better. And so I fought. Sometimes I fought bite by bite, meal by meal. Eventually it becomes less of a battle.
Sadly there is very little in my history that is unique because those of us that have been through an eating disorder share many similarities.
One thing I am aware of, was my privilege to seek help, when so many others are not so fortunate. It was through seeing this I found a new motivation of recovery, to give back. To use what I had learnt in a productive way to help others. This is one of the reasons I started this blog. Reading other people’s lived experience has been so instrumental in my own recovery.
I was so buried in my eating disorder I believed that was my brain. It’s a brain that goes against everything you believe in and convinces you it’s the only thing that matters. It convinced me my life’s purpose was to count numbers, control my intake, shrink my body and my worth was measured solely on rigidly following these. It made me believe there was no life beyond this.
There were times where, I was terrified of carbs, which became dairy, which became fats and ultimately food. Literally every food group became terrifying. Thank you diet culture, I say with upmost venom behind that.
One of the ways of overcoming my eating disorder misconceptions was learning why I needed each food group. Removing any vocabulary that demonized any food. Seeing all food as equal. Bite by bite this became easier. There are still times where my eating disorder tries to complicate things, to lure me back to believe the fears. I remind myself of my truth and my reason for fighting in these moments. I reject diet culture in all forms.
Developing confidence in my own decisions around food and body and knowing what I am doing has been huge in my recovery. I am no longer being reliant on a team. I am trusting myself more with each day.
Our lives have gradually returned to “normal” if not more enriched for the struggle we have overcome. Life holds so much value to me now, having nearly lost it I’m incredibly grateful to be here.
One of the worst parts of starting recovery was telling my parents. It took me so long to muster up the courage to talk to them about it. I was so afraid of their disappointment, they wouldn’t understand and would make me feel I had done something wrong. One thing I have learned is you don’t need people to understand, because, realistically very few can unless they have walked the path of an eating disorder. Support and love & compassion are qualities that really assist you. Learning to forgive yourself and set boundaries to build your close support network is something I have worked on during the recovery process.
Finding my voice in recovery has taken away much of the eating disorder’s power. It felt like each person I told I regained power. It forced the darkness of the eating disorder into the light. Removing a lot of the secrecy, shame and associated isolation. Having the eating disorder out in the open has forced me to be accountable. Sharing my struggle has given me the biggest gift of connecting with others.
I feel thankful to be here.
There is nothing about recovery I regret other than I didn’t choose it sooner. I promise it is worth the work and you won’t regret recovering.