I’ve never written a post whilst “in the thick of it” before. But one of my values is authenticity. We often forget our struggles when we come out the other side and often some of the biggest lessons are lost if not shared when we are truly at our most vulnerable. I’m out of alignment and stuck. That’s basically an eating disorder summed up.
The last few months have been hard. I let small ED things creep back in and before I knew I was back under anorexia’s grip. I didn’t think they were a big deal. Individually they probably weren’t but if like me, you have a history of an eating disorder, we have to be vigilant of these things because one slip can become a landslide before we even realise. It’s a lot easier to deal with when it’s small and early. My aim of this is to reach someone, perhaps you’ve noticed a couple of things slipping, shut this down before it becomes an uphill battle.
The best way I can truly describe being amidst a relapse of an eating disorder is “Smoke and Mirrors”. I could kind of see it happening, but the smoke just kept coming.
The eating disorder serves as an obscurer. It’s made it near impossible for me to accept/ see I am in a relapse, I have a problem, I need help or that I’m not making my eating disorder up. It confuses my brain on a daily basis. It will have me believe I’m fine when everything and everyone I care about tells me the contrary.
All of this is the smoke that has kept me in the grips of anorexia, it’s made me hard to “reach”. How do you solve a problem when someone doesn’t believe there’s one to be solved? It’s taking me time to figure this out. It can’t be unless I decided to trust the people telling me I’m on fire. Some days I believe it, other days I can’t see past the smoke.
This is the main reason for wanting to share this, because I forget this feeling when I get back on track and yet it’s a feeling I can guarantee anyone who’s lived an eating disorder has or will feel at some point. When this started a few months back, I didn’t talk about how things were slipping, instead I isolated and went to anorexia’s open arms. Anorexia and eating disorders thrive on this secrecy, isolation and vulnerability.
Talking might have pulled me out of this faster and so I urge you, if you can feel things slipping, don’t wait for it to get worse before you ask for help. “It’s no big deal” may well be a big deal. It gets harder to ask for help the longer you wait and the eating disorder will do anything to trick you into believing you have this “shit in control”.
It’s a scary and lonely place to sit in. When your brain doesn’t allow you to see through the smoke. Everyone around you might be trying to pour water over the fire, but you struggle to even feel the burn. Occasionally the smoke clears for a moment and you might get glimpses of the situation and it’s suffocating. Realistically it comes back to putting one foot in front of the other to pull yourself back out. Because I only I can pull myself out, just like only YOU can pull yourself out. BUT*** We don’t have to do it alone. Which is something I’m yet again grappling with.
My goals are to go back to basics.
What does that mean?
– Attempting acceptance and when it’s not there trying, to trust my support team because I sure can’t trust my brain right now. If people are telling you they are worried, try to listen to them even if the eating disorder doesn’t believe it. It may never believe it, but one thing I do know is, I can trust people that care about me.
– Try and be honest. There’s no point saying you ‘want’ to recover when you don’t, but that doesn’t mean we can’t commit to recovering or at least trying. It’s a very strange concept to explain to someone who has never lived an eating disorder, why on earth wouldn’t someone want to recover from something that was harming them. For me the work here is coming from “unpacking what my beliefs around what the eating disorder does for me“ It’s hard for me to say I want to recover when in the short term recovery makes me feel shit but I know that long term it’s short term pain for freedom.
Again being honest about what’s realistic for you to challenge now. Only you can really know this. Recovery is meant to feel hard. But I know if I over commit and I can’t meet that goal it only fuels the critical voice of anorexia. Everyone’s recovery is different. Your goals will be not be the same as the next person. Whilst we are at it, releasing comparison full stop.
– Going back to basics. Trying to re-establish the healthy routines.
– Trying to re-establish things like regular eating.
– Using tools that I have learned in treatment or that have helped me in the past- such as dialoguing (as much as I dislike this exercise) because I know it helps to bring my healthy self to the foreground. Dialoguing is something I have let slip, yet it’s a tool that has always helped me see my eating disorder thoughts and healthy self more clearly and allowed me to reinforce that healthy side of me in moments of difficulty. (For anyone who is unaware; dialoguing is an exercise where you write out eating disordered thoughts and counter them with your healthy self (non disordered brain) to try and separate yourself from your disordered thoughts and strengthen your healthy self, you should always end on a healthy self point)
– Connecting not isolating or withdrawing. For me this looks like: keeping appointments with my team, talking to friends and family and even writing this blog because it’s connecting with my authenticity. This is something that I’m finding hard right now because the eating disorder wants me to be quiet an secretive. I’m also having a tough time saying eating disorder or anorexia and so I’m being deliberate in using it. Calling it what it is. Connecting with reality, truth and people. All the things the eating disorder tries to stop me from doing.
So where am I going with this…
Am I motivated to recover at every waking minute at the moment HELL no, But I am COMMITTED to keep trying every day. You don’t have to want to recover. But first step is to meet yourself where you are and work with that.
Eating disorders will distort and hide the truth of your suffering from you. Making it hard to accept or see your reality.
But no matter where you find yourself, even in times of relapse it’s important to remind yourself you’re never starting at square one, even if you feel like you’re starting again. You’re starting with more knowledge and resilience than you did at the beginning. Recovery is not linear. It’s ok to not be ok.