I’ve never been that good at listening to my body. Luckily, it was never afraid to shout at me when it wanted something (whether that was good, rest or movement). But when I developed an eating disorder even that wasn’t enough. It felt like all my signals were dulled, or had disappeared completely. I barely ever felt real hunger and would feel sickeningly full after eating the smallest portion.
It was a real struggle for me. Lately, though, it’s been getting a lot better. I’ve started to remember what hunger feels like. I’ve started to acknowledge when my body is physically tired and needs to rest, and when it’s agitated and needs to move.
But just because I’m getting better at hearing what my body is saying, that doesn’t mean I’ve gotten any better at really listening to it. Eating disorders can make you numb to a lot—including the signals your body is screaming at you. In the same way you can hear people’s concern without listening to it, living with an ED can mean hearing what your body needs but not listening or doing anything about it. I think this is a real tragedy, because there is something beautiful about truly listening to your body.
It became clear to me a couple of weeks ago when I got sick. I’ve been lucky in my eating disorder recovery not to have been ill very often, but the dreaded tummy bug finally got me! On the positive side, it was a chance to hear from my body. I heard it tell me it wanted to rest (on the lounge with movies), and it wanted toast and tea. Simple, right? Maybe even a little nice? Not according to the ED. And unfortunately I chose to listen to it, rather than my body. I continued to exercise, I fled from bread and went for safe salads, and I pushed through and went to work. The result? I ended up feeling worse and being sick for longer than I would have if I’d just listened to my body!
I hate that I ignored my body and I hate that I still struggle so much with dealing with things that are outside my control. But despite never enjoying a bout of the tummy bug, I’m glad I went through it. It was a reminder to remain active in my recovery, to stay on top of things and keep challenging myself. As I’ve gotten further along in my recovery journey, Matt and I have been focused on addressing my issues around control and right now that means getting better at letting my body—not my mind—run the show!