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I’m ‘Nostalgic’ for the ‘High’ My Eating Disorder Gave Me

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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.

I often find myself wanting to relapse into my eating disorder. There’s a certain nostalgia. Sure, my eating disorder caused some of the worst times of my life, but it was also there for me.

When you’re going through it, they’ll tell you just eat, just stop throwing up, it’s not hard. It comes down to these being coping mechanisms. We all have our different coping mechanisms — my brain was just wired in a way that this is mine. And yes, I know, it’s not healthy, but it’s not something I can just stop.

I often hear people talk about how they could never stop eating, or dieting isn’t worth it. And they often compare it to an eating disorder — “how do they have that self-control?!” — but that’s just it; it’s not self-control.

So, when I feel nostalgic for my eating disorder these days, I get it — even though I’m three years into recovery. My eating disorder numbed me. When I was deep within it, nothing else mattered. Literally nothing. Nothing could hurt me because nothing else mattered besides it. People think about how terrible it must be. I’m not going to lie, it was. But it was also intoxicating. I got a high off the drama that surrounded my eating disorder.

“How many calories can I eat today? OK, what am I going to eat? If I eat that now, I won’t have enough for dinner later. What lie am I going to tell people to get away with not eating with them? Do I have the energy for the gym?”

And then the greatest high of them all — the scale. Seeing the number drop. It’s sad to say, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier than when I saw my goal weight on the scale. But like a drug high, that high dissipates and it dissipates fast.

You might look in the mirror, turn to the side, grab the fat on your stomach, frown. Turn to the other side — maybe it’s just that angle? Nope. You feel a lump in your throat. It’s not enough. You quickly open your laptop to Google your new BMI. You realize you’re in the anorexic BMI range. This has never happened before. You always told yourself you’d stop there. So, you wonder, “why am I still ‘fat?’”

So, your brain starts turning some more — do I go to the gym? Buy some diet pills? Am I even capable of dropping my calories more?

You get up from your bed and everything goes black for a second. The room spins. You’re not fazed; this happens every time you get up. You secretly get a high from it.

After a while, it all starts to get exhausting. No matter what, it’s never enough. No matter what, the happiness doesn’t stick.

I know all of this; I’ve relapsed many times. I know my eating disorder will never be what leads me to happiness. Yet, the nostalgia still rushes over me several times a year.

I’ve been feeling particularly nostalgic lately. I feel guilty about it… but honestly, not that guilty. Today, though, that changed. I scrolled through Instagram and saw two separate posts announcing the deaths of two separate people. Both had died from their eating disorders. Both were young.

I developed an eating disorder 11 years ago. I didn’t start feeling physical effects until the last time I relapsed — when I was 21. Without a doubt, if I relapsed again, it would be worse. I would put myself in danger. It’s scary to think about.

Most of all though, I’m heartbroken for the girls who didn’t make it. In their honor, I’m going to fight even harder to maintain recovery. This is already such a deadly mental illness, so don’t sink in nostalgia’s quicksand.

Photo by A L L E F . V I N I C I U S Δ on Unsplash

Originally published: March 21, 2019
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