When You Miss Your Eating Disorder While in 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 “NEDA” to 741-741.
After so much hard work, I still miss my eating disorder.
It is frustrating and makes very little sense. Nobody ever says, “I miss my broken leg.”
But if recovery has taught me anything, it’s that I don’t miss the disorder itself, even though it may feel that way. Eating disorders are a package deal. Negative thoughts drive unhealthy behaviors and unhealthy behaviors bring about physical detriment. It’s not as simple as a broken leg, but imagine you’re addicted to the pain of walking on that leg. That’s an eating disorder.
For someone predisposed to have anorexia, my first skipped meal wasn’t all that different from what I imagine an alcoholic’s first drink is like. I remember it being like a high, well aware of the all the health implications, but unable to resist the pull.
At 21, I spoke to a counselor. She likened my behaviors to a comfort blanket. Comfort! What was comforting about it? But in hindsight, I understand. There is something oddly reassuring about the predictability of such torment, knowing a certain number of calories meant a certain amount of weight dropped.
When life gets to be too much, I miss the feelings those behaviors create. Is it worth it though? Do I miss the cold, the boredom, the panic attacks? There are times I feel I need my eating disorder, but I don’t. I need control and there are other ways I can obtain that. I need a distraction from all the things I don’t think I can deal with – but I can deal with them.
“If you can do this,” the counselor said, “you can do anything.”
To this day, I have trouble believing that 100 percent of the time. But life isn’t about being 100 percent all the time. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I can struggle some days and cope on others and that’s OK.
I will not let this illness pull me under. It won’t become my comfort blanket, my identity or my friend. My achievements will not be weighed in pounds. My health and happiness is worth more than nostalgia. I will never forget the hell I went through, but I refuse to miss it. Instead I will remind myself of the strength it takes to recover. It’s strength I have fought for and I won’t relinquish it any time soon.
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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Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure.