In 2011, I left the treatment center I was staying at in California. I was in a pretty good place, both mentally and physically.
I was following my meal plan.
I was abiding by exercise rules.
I was not restricting.
I was not bingeing.
I was not purging in any form – laxatives, vomiting, exercising.
Although this was an extremely better place than I had ever been in, as it was the first time I was in recovery without binging and purging, it was a very unpleasant, stagnant place.
Let me explain……
Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond grateful for this period of my recovery because it taught me that I can follow a meal plan and exercise plan, without binging and purging, and maintain my weight. This was critical for my recovery moving forward.
Prior to this treatment center, I never witnessed anyone fully recover from their eating disorder. At this center, there was one girl that was staying at the transitional living house that had a similar story to me, and she recovered. I held onto that with everything I had.
That is why blogging about my experience is so important to me. I wish I had someone to give me hope during my struggles. I felt so alone.
Eating disorders are a very lonely illness.
If I can give at least one person hope that full recovery is possible than I will be more than happy.
Before this I struggled with wondering if I could ever fully recover.
I didn’t think life without bingeing and purging would be worth it. It sounded terrible and torturous to me.
I thought maybe I could find a ‘happy’ medium where I could lessen the amount of binging and purging I engaged in, but still include it in my life.
The dietician at this treatment center showed me that I could follow a non-restrictive meal plan without gaining unnecessary weight.
It was the first time that I truly started to really trust my body.
It was a blessing to have this new ‘freedom’ with food. However, the longer I was out of treatment the more terrified I became to venture off of my meal plan and try new foods.
I would not deviate from the foods I had tried at the treatment center because I knew I could ‘trust’ them.
I knew my weight would stay the same with these foods. Once again, I became a slave to food, but in a different way than before. I was “in recovery,” but I was still living with a lot of fear.
It was only a matter of time until I relapsed.
I had about a year and a half without bingeing and purging, but I was miserable. If I ate one too many cookies than I obsessed over it for days.
Slowly, I ended up going backwards and restricting more frequently, but I did not consider this to be as big of a problem compared to my previous behaviors, which was a lie.
ALL EATING DISORDER BEHAVIORS ARE DANGEROUS.
Honestly, I did not even realize how often I started to restrict as I became numb to it.
The restricting is what eventually brought me back to my full-blown eating disorder cycle.
I never allowed myself a day without exercise, but I made sure not to over do it.
I was following my recovery plans so I was in recovery, right? Sure, but, I was still completely controlled.
I couldn’t travel because that involved spontaneity with food and exercise, which was too terrifying to fathom.
I stayed home. If I made plans with a friend it was only for a brief timeframe, like getting coffee, so I could get home and back to my routine.
I planned a flight to Los Angeles the following year to visit two of my friends. As soon as I booked the trip, which was months in advanced, I began obsessing about what food I would eat and how I would be able to work out.
I loved seeing my friends, but I was mentally distracted before the trip, during the trip, and after the trip.
I couldn’t stop thinking about my weight.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the food I was eating.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the calories I wasn’t burning through exercise.
There are so many different stages of recovery.
If you look back and reflect, I believe something valuable can always be learned.
Although, I was still a far cry from full recovery, this stage allowed me to start trusting my body with different foods.
I also learned that I can live a life without bingeing and purging.
If you are still struggling I think it’s important to know that there is more out there – there is a recovered stage, but embrace where you are right now.
Do not beat yourself up. You will get there.
Learn from your relapses and move forward.
Just know that you can trust your body with food.
You will survive without exercise excessively. In fact, life is more enjoyable with fun, balanced physical activities.
You will survive without restriction and bingeing and purging. In fact, you will thrive.
Trust the process.