Resisting.

I started doing something I promised myself many times I wouldn’t do again. How easily I forgot the tightness of its grip. How gently yet forcefully it started pushing me back down the rabbit hole.

I kept spinning the story about how far away from my eating disorder I’ve gotten. I talk about how hard the journey has been but how I now feel comfortable in the skin I’m in. And most days that’s true.

Most days I feel on top of the world. No matter how far behind myself I feel, no matter how much life knocks me down and drags me around, I still wake up with a smile in my heart, grateful for another day. Genuinely.

But then I had this idea to start calorie counting again. I’d been slowly shedding the unwanted weight so what better way to amplify my efforts, right? No. A million times no. Because no matter how much training I’ve done, how many books and articles I’ve read, and no matter how far gone I was in the past, it’s not enough to keep me from peeking behind the curtain of what once was: restricting.

Slowly I found myself dipping below normal, toeing a line, seeing how little I could get down to, and ignoring how, day by day, I was inching closer to madness. Once again I had convinced myself this was the way to do it. I had already shed the bad situation, and now I was wiling to do whatever it took to get rid of every last bit of it, every last reminder, every last pound I allowed it to stuff into my body. It wasn’t about the weight so much as it was erasing what got me into this space. I started to feel so desperate to get back to the place I was in before the world came crashing down around me.

The only way I knew how was control. Or rather, the facade of control. Soon it became about what was allowed. How much would I be allowed to consume at any given time during the day. How far would I allow my body to be pushed every day. How long would I allow myself to stare into the darkness before it would inevitably consume me.

My body soon began betraying me. In an effort to limit food consumption, I turned to increased amounts of coffee, three workouts a day, and forcing myself to go to bed hungry. How dare my body turn against me and want food. The thought stung. Why couldn’t I be obedient to my thoughts?

Mind you this all happened within the span of about two weeks. Because no matter how many years of recovery you have under your belt, there is always a little piece of you waiting to go backward. It doesn’t matter if, on a good day, you can’t imagine ever going back to that, because given a taste it is extremely hard to resist.

But then I got to a point where I couldn’t deny myself any longer. I was hungry and I was tired and I needed to wave my flag in resignation. Recovery, you win again. I will follow you peacefully.

I feel my best when I am listening to my body, not my eating disorder voice. I feel my best when I make a choice in the moment based on intuition and feeling good rather than what I hope might make me take up less space by morning. I feel my best when I sometimes eat a little extra candy or really only want a rich cup of coffee for breakfast. Because when I lie down at night, what makes me feel best is that I lived.

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Four Years.

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Left: Dec 2011 / Right: Feb 2016

It’s been four years. Four long, trying years of conquering, failing, rising, and failing again.

It wasn’t until I had been so far outside of the eye of my eating disorder storm that I could look back and recognize patterns that had been building over years and years. When it all came to a head I was in a panic stricken state of denial. Not me, I thought. I’m too old for this, I insisted. But I was wrong.

Dealing with an eating disorder in your mid- to late 20s is really rough. I had done so much research on the topic, and it was nearly impossible to find someone to whom I could relate. Eating disorders, and specifically anorexia, are often deemed an adolescent issue. Something born of wanting to fit in, look a certain way, gain attention, and be well thought of. All of which it is not.

My disease was exacerbated by the need for control. My outside world was in the brink of collapse. I had so much on my plate and so little know-how to handle it all. So I turned inward. I took control of the only thing I could think of, my food intake.

I was in deep denial as I whittled away, bones protruding, losing feeling in my leg, and having little energy to even breathe.

It wasn’t long after my 28th birthday when I knew it was ‘now or never.’ I either had to fight back or I had to accept that I wouldn’t be around much longer. It all happened so fast but I knew my life had to mean more than this.

And so after weeks of contemplation, I chose recovery.

A lot of people wrongly assume recovery equates to cured. It doesn’t. Recovery is such an individual experience, I’ve come to learn. Just when I think I have a grip on my own I am thrown for a major loop.

Everyday is a new day to choose recovery, and I choose it. Every single day.

I won’t say it is always ‘easy’ or comes as second nature. Some days the voice in my head is loud and torturous, and some days it is barely a whisper. But every day, with every meal, with every feeling with which I am faced, I have to make a conscious effort to choose recovery, to choose my health and my well being, to choose my life over my disorder.

I’m proud of myself. I don’t admit it often, but I am. And I acknowledge those who help keep me on track when I need it most. It isn’t easy to reach out when I need support. It isn’t easy to admit I suffer in my own little private hell most days. But I do.

This is my story. Albeit briefly.

This is who I am beneath the surface. I am learning to accept that.

And I will continue to share this story over and over again in hopes of it reaching the right person at the right time.

I will never say fighting your demons is easy but it is so important not to give up. I’ve struggled my entire life with feeling as though I wasn’t good enough – for people, for relationships, for jobs, for experiences. It is something I am still working through, four years into recovery and every single day of my life.

We all deserve to experience immense joy despite our pain.

We are all worthy.

 

If you or someone you know may be suffering from an eating disorder, please reach out. There are so many resources and so many people willing to help.
National Eating Disorders Association
Eating Disorders Hope
Nat’l Assoc of Anorexia & Associated Disorders