A Letter for the Bad Days in 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 “NEDA” to 741-741.
Today is a day where you tug on your jeans and notice they’re a tad too snug. You hear whispers about how to nip that in the bud. Today is a day where you feel too big as you move through the world, as though you take too much space. You hear your eating disorder calling your name, and it sounds like home. Today is a day where you stand in front of the mirror and pick yourself apart until you are in pieces on the bathroom floor. Today is a day where you pass the fridge, you ignore your hunger pangs, you push yourself too hard during your workout, you binge/purge/come apart at the seams. Today is a day where you hear your eating disorder screaming, and this time you don’t tune it out; today, you listen.
It’s OK to have these days. It’s OK to have these weeks, even. It’s OK. You don’t have to be “on” all the time. You don’t have to be the picture of recovery, smiling every second of every day. You are allowed to fall apart. You are allowed to feel weak. You are allowed to hate how you look. You are allowed to fall down, and you don’t always have to get back up immediately. You don’t have to be so hard on yourself. You don’t have to be perfect. Breathe.
Take off your eating disorder glasses. You aren’t fat. Really, you aren’t. You probably haven’t gained weight — and if you have, why is that such a bad thing? It isn’t the end of the world. Your body changes all the time. It’s natural. It’s normal, I promise. Your body is allowed to grow and move and look different. It isn’t going to look the same after eating as it does first thing in the morning. That’s normal, relax.
Don’t worry about your friends eating “better” than you, or working out more, or being skinnier or doing a cleanse. Don’t worry about them. Focus on you. Stop comparing your body to the bodies around you. The comparison will eat you alive. It’s a waste of time and energy and headspace.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.
Remember that kid you were before you got sick, who loved pancakes and didn’t think about how their tummy looked in a bathing suit, — they were too busy having fun. Remember. Think back to how you felt when you were sick. Think long and hard about how you felt inside, how terrible it was, how much you hated yourself, how much it hurt. Remember. Think about why you decided to fight your eating disorder. Think about brunch with friends, exploring, lazy weekends, the sunshine on your skin. Think about all of the things you would miss if you got sick again. Think about it. Write it down, sing it out loud, scream it if you have to. Remember. Remember all of the reasons you chose to fight for your life. Hold on to them.
You are alive. You made it through the fire, the hurricane, the drought — you made it through recovery and now you’re here. Think of the good days. Think of the days when you love what your body does for you. It can get so hard and dark and bleak, I know. But remember the days that don’t feel that way. Remember the reasons you love yourself; you’re funny, kind, smart, adventurous, witty. Remember the reasons you love your body, too. Even if you can only think of one. Maybe you like your eyes, your smile, your hair, your legs, your nails. Think of just one thing. I promise you can. Hold on to it.
This too shall pass. It’s cliche because it’s true. You have lived through a hundred days like this one. It feels like the pain won’t go away and you’re alone and you’re incredibly insecure. It will pass. Maybe not right now, or even tomorrow, but it will pass. Today is a day you want to give in and run back to your eating disorder. Remember why you fought to recover in the first place. Remember. Hold on to it. Breathe.
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Thinkstock photo via m-gucci.