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The Ups and Downs of Eating Disorder Recovery


Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

The ups and downs of recovery are palpable. Every day, I feel the effects of the “eating disorder voice”: the body checking, the questioning about food, the fear of weight gain. This doesn’t mean I’m stopping my recovery; it means that even though it feels difficult every day, I still have to believe it’s worth it. The thoughts remain, and they alternate between quiet and loud depending on my state of mind and how I feel about myself. In the midst of all the chaos that recovery can be, I can either feel “fine” or totally terrible, and there is often not an in-between.

I’m generally not feeling amazing. This may partially be attributed to the fact that I got on the scale the other day. The dreaded scale. My frenemy. Now that I’m in recovery, definitely my enemy.

When I was restricting, I could convince myself he was my friend more so than enemy. I guess he was really only my friend when it suited me. So much value has been placed on this object — my feelings, my thoughts, and my worth. The less I go on it, the better I feel about myself, which I know is the point. But I also believe if I’m doing recovery “right,” I shouldn’t be gaining weight, or it should have stopped by now. I have gained almost 17 pounds now. Which feels like an insane amount of weight for me to carry. I know some of it could be muscle. But it is also probably fat.

These are thoughts that are with me all day. Am I doing this right? Am I eating too much? Am I eating mindfully? Am I full for a restriction-based person or am I actually full? Why do I want that extra piece of pizza if I’m full? Am I sure I’m full? How can I be healthy and fit while recovering from an eating disorder? Do I really have an eating disorder? How can I deal with my weight gain? Do people notice? Why do I care if people notice? I don’t care if other people gain weight or lose weight, so it’s likely no one else cares. But still, the thoughts remain.

Ultimately, losing weight and trying to lose weight has felt like my life goal. I know how ridiculous that might sound, but it’s what it was. In some ways, I don’t know how to be me without this goal in mind. What do I do without this constant desire and constant thought to continue to shrink myself? Am I OK being the way I am? What if I want to lose weight in the future? I know this may be obsessive and my OCD likely launched itself into my eating disorder. But the truth is, sometimes I don’t know how to be without it. It was me for what felt like an eternity. How can I be without it? Do I want to be without it?

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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