The Mighty Logo

How Eating Disorder Recovery Has Revealed My 'Broken Pair of Wings'

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Today I cried. I cried because I could feel the hard, solid, shell I have spent decades plastering around every inch of me, cracking, leaving me soft and vulnerable and revealing a very broken pair of wings.

The past week my anxiety levels skyrocketed in anticipation of a few changes and as my anxiety went up, my eating went down. I need recovery. I need it with every inch of my being — physically, mentally, psychologically, spiritually. My eating disorder weighs me down and impacts every aspect of my life. I can’t bear it. And I can’t bear to let it go.

I saw a dietitian yesterday. I had been resistant to visiting one for years and was not looking forward to it. Not one bit. I spent two hours with the most beautiful, empathetic lady, talking about every aspect of my eating disorder, stresses, emotional state and psychological issues. She listened, she heard me, then offered hints, tips and a generic plan to increase my nutritional intake.

Later I received the kindest email from a complete stranger and she said, “How can I help you? I want to support you in any way I can.” Isn’t that beautiful?! Someone who has been through bulimia, walked the torturous road of recovery and now reaches out to offer me a helping hand. 

But the thing that sent me into floods of tears, and made me feel my protective shell was being ripped from my naked flesh, was the first phone call in an eight-week online group course for recovery from bulimia and binge eating.

I said in a previous post, I sometimes feel my eating disorder is a solid, tangible, physical, separate part of me. And when I come across another piece of the recovery puzzle – something I believe is actually going to progress me a little further away from illness and propel me closer to wellness — my eating disorder panics. It flexes its muscles and says, “Look at me! I’m stronger than you! I’m not leaving!”

And as I listened in on that conference call today, with eight other women who intimately know the despair of bulimia, I felt my eating disorder panicking and reminding me if it goes, there is nothing left to protect me. I have learned no other way to cope with life, and I rarely cope well. I shed tears of grief, for behaviors I have clung to like a drowning woman all my life. I sobbed in fear of the emotions and the angst that will come flooding in when the cracks are wide enough and my protection is gone.

I have placed a lot of desperate hope into this course. I wonder if it is possible to ever recover if I can’t find the courage and commitment to practice the skills I desperately need to make long-term changes. And yet, as I spent 90 minutes on the phone with these wonderful women, I felt a glimmer of hope that maybe recovery is in my future. Perhaps it is not impossible.

I have no idea what recovery looks and feels like. And I certainly have no idea what will replace disordered eating and self-harm to allow me to cope with the inevitable stresses every one of us is subject to at different times. But I am hoping as the rest of my protective shell is ripped away, I can slowly unfurl those broken wings, and learn to fly again.

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.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Archv.

Originally published: April 21, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home