I’m learning throughout my recovery process just how sneaky EDs can be. One minute you think you’re rolling along quite smoothly, smashing goals left, right and centre, then all of sudden you’re stopped in your tracks.
A few months ago I was raving to my psychologist about how well I was doing. I told her how good I felt and how positive my outlook had been lately.
She told me that while that was fantastic to hear, I should be aware that the hard times weren’t over and there would still be moments (if not entire days) when I would feel like I was being suffocated by the ED. I heard what she said, but I wasn’t really listening. Deep down I thought, “Yeah, but that won’t happen to me. I’m doing so great!”
Oh, how wrong I was.
Since that day in my psychologist’s office, the ED has been almost relentless in its attempts to knock me off balance and send my spiralling back into its control. The good news is the only reason its so loud is because I’ve been so committed to challenging its rules and orders—unfortunately that doesn’t make it any easier to live with.
If you’re following my progress on Instagram you’ll know I’ve been working through a list of recovery goals. This has been such a positive way for me to ditch some long-held ED beliefs and behaviours around food (and satisfy my deep love of checking off lists). However, after successfully challenging so many goals I had become complacent. Without realising it had actually stopped challenging any more. Yikes! For those of us trying to recover that is definitely not a place we ever want to find ourselves!
My complacency drew the ED like a moth to a flame, and before I knew it I found a whole bunch of new rules springing up around me:
- I’d challenged the rule that told me I wasn’t allowed to enjoy a coffee at work, but now the ED was telling me I could only have a certain number per week.
- I’d proved to myself that eating dessert wouldn’t mean the end of the world, but now the ED had started to tell me only certain desserts were acceptable.
I had allowed the ED to set up new rules, corrupting the freedom I’d fought so hard to achieve!
But it wasn’t until last week that I really became aware of just how much control the ED was exerting over my decision. While I’ve made huge wins in my recovery journey so far (especially in areas that were affecting my physical health) while I was celebrating, the ED had regrouped and come back with a vengeance, taking aim at a new target: my mental wellbeing.
It really hit me about a month ago. For weeks I was in a state of sadness. I didn’t feel like myself because I wasn’t being honest with myself; I wasn’t listening to my intuition. I’d started holding things in instead of being open with my support group. Bursting into tears after another exhausting day of mind battles was becoming way too common.
Eventually I couldn’t deny it any longer—I had to acknowledge what Matt and my support team already knew: something was very wrong. Matt sat me down and made me talk through everything that was going on in my head. We decided it was time to go back to the basics. (Even though I’ve made so much progress in my recovery journey, I realised that doesn’t mean I’m invulnerable to the ED’s attacks, and those tools I used early in recovery can be just as powerful now.)
We started checking in every night to discuss the day’s struggles and recovery wins. I began journalling regularly again, booked in appointments with my dietitian and psychologist and wrote a new list that better reflected the battles I really needed to focus on (and addressed the new rules the ED had created during my complacency).
I’ve come to learn the ED will use any excuse to get a foothold. I want so badly to be fully recovered that I can sometimes try to convince myself I’m further along in my journey than I really am. But to have the best chance of achieving true recovery I need to be honest with myself, trust my support team and deal with the issues I’m facing now—not pretend they don’t exist (no matter how much I wish they didn’t).
Taking the time to realign myself with where I’m honestly at in my recovery journey, and where I want to go, has refreshed me and given me the energy I need to keep on fighting. The ED voice is still there (seemingly louder than it’s ever been sometimes) and I can truly say that recovering from this eating disorder has been and still is the hardest thing I’ve ever faced. I have so much respect for everyone who’s recovered or is going through this process now. They can all tell you, it’s not for the faint-hearted.
But I can see already that despite the pain I’m experiencing now, the outcome is worth every second. So I thank God every day for the beautiful people I’ve met and the opportunity I have now through mindfoodly to make recovery a little easier for others.