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What to Know About Having a Coronavirus Diagnosis in Eating Disorder Recovery

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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 741741.

In my last 12 days of searching for answers, or anything to grasp onto, I realized: there are a lot of articles about quarantine and eating disorders but no information about actually navigating a coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnosis and an eating disorder at the same time.

Maybe there’s not a lot of us out there. I hope that’s the case. And yet, I have to believe there is someone out there who has simultaneously struggled with both COVID-19 and an eating disorder.

So here is my story, in hopes that someone else might benefit from knowing they aren’t alone in such a unique and scary situation.

My eating disorder has a long history and I won’t go into all of the details here. But after about four years and nine different treatment stays, I finally found my path to recovery. I was doing twice-weekly therapy, meeting with a dietitian, working on my trauma and following a meal plan for the first time. Was my recovery journey perfect? Absolutely not. I stumbled and I struggled and I was, and very much am, right in the messy middle. My meal plan felt like too much, my body felt like too much, my needs felt like too much. And I had to rekindle my motivation daily.

A banner promoting The Mighty's new Navigating Coronavirus Together group on The Mighty mobile app. The banner reads, Want to connect with others who are managing their health during the pandemic? Join Navigating Coronavirus Together now. Click to join.

And then it happened. It was a Tuesday when I received my positive COVID-19 results. I was in shock. I had read all of the articles about how devastating isolation can be when you are in eating disorder recovery, and now it was me. I was naive, or maybe my brain was protecting me, but I never thought about how the physical symptoms of COVID-19 could affect my recovery. By day two, I had lost all sense of smell and taste. An interesting symptom, to say the least. The fatigue was getting pretty bad as well, but I stocked up on fluids and tried to stick to the schedule I had made for myself. Day three started with the dreaded gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms that really put a damper on my meal planning. I had an emergency session with my dietitian and therapist and came up with a bland diet that could help. The next eight days were a blur of virtual appointments, toast, sleep and the bathroom. I was in survival mode. It wasn’t until day 11 when I met with my therapist that I realized how far I had been forced to stray from my meal plan and how much work it was going to take, physically and mentally, to get back to where I was pre-coronavirus diagnosis.

And that is where I am today. Gradually working on getting my health back. The challenge of not having any sense of taste and some lingering GI symptoms has proven to be difficult. However, I’m lucky to have a great team supporting me through this.

If you are someone who actively has an eating disorder, or has had a history of disordered eating, getting a COVID-19 diagnosis can be very triggering. You are not alone. My best advice would be to do the best you can, give yourself grace, and make sure you have a support system, whether that be friends, professionals or both. I know it’s so hard not to feel like a burden and asking for help sometimes feels impossible. But now is the time to channel your inner strength and reach out. Ask for help. Let someone deliver your groceries. Let your friends check in on you daily. And allow your body to heal, in whatever way that may look like for you!

For more on the coronavirus, check out the following stories from our community:

Photo by Susanna Marsiglia on Unsplash

Originally published: August 7, 2020
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