Eating Disorders

My Early Relapse Signs

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Relapse always scared me when I first went into residential treatment for my eating disorder. I remember there was a group just for preventing it, and I dreaded going because I was so adamant about how I would never relapse and didn’t need to go over ways to prevent it.

I was pretty stubborn.

Anyways I learned about relapse the hard way when I took a complete step backward about nine months ago. I was in the first year of college and the stress of making friends was too overwhelming. I felt like the only thing I could control was my weight and losing it was the only thing I was good at. My grades were slipping and so was my weight but I didn’t care. I foolishly thought that being smaller would make everything better.

I was wrong. Everything fell apart and to make a long story short, I dropped out of school and went home. It wasn’t until I was home and started reading some healthy living blogs that I finally realized I needed help. I am glad to say, after a lot of hard work, I am back in a good place and on my way to full recovery.

Throughout my struggles, I have learned how to notice the signs of relapse and how to prevent them from spiraling totally out of control.

Early Relapse Signs:

1) Lowering calories: this is an obvious one. When I start thinking about ways to restrict my intake, I know I am in trouble.

2) Lying: this was a huge part of my eating disorder when I was really sick. I would lie about not being hungry or that I already ate,  so when I notice myself doing these things, I need to catch myself and just face the truth.

3) More irritable, angry and anxious: these were the first symptoms I experienced at the beginning of the lapse. I was short with people and didn’t want anything to do with them and my anxiety was out of control. I became fearful of food and situations again.

4) Avoiding social situations: this is something I tend to do anyways but I found myself doing it more and more, especially any gatherings that involved food in some way. I would to refuse to go anywhere where I knew there would be a lot of people and food.

5) Denying my hunger: even if I felt hungry and my stomach was growling, I would put off eating until I literally felt like I was going to throw up.

6) Exercising more: this was huge. When I started reducing my calories, I made a plan to walk two hours every day without a single day of rest. I would exercise even if I was sick, the weather was bad, or I was exhausted and if I didn’t get a certain amount every day I would freak out and be a grouch.

7) Eating low-calorie foods: I would consume a lot of pickles, sparkling water, and gum in order to fill myself up so I didn’t have to eat real foods.

8) Not wanting to be touched: I would become irritable and angry if my fiance hugged me or put his arms around my waist. I hated my body so much that I didn’t want anyone else to have to see or feel it either.

9) Unable to sit still: this has always been a problem for me, but it worsened a lot more. I had a really hard time sitting through my classes and was unable to go a day without moving around and walking.

10) Feeling hopeless: I would lay awake at night and cry until my eyes hurt just because I felt like a failure. If something went wrong or not my way, I would think it was immediately all my fault and that no one loved me and that everyone would be better off if I wasn’t here. It was awful.

Those are just a couple of my early relapse signs so now if I recognize myself doing any of those, I will be able to catch myself before things get too out of hand. I feel good in my recovery and although there are days were things just really suck, I am able to remember why I want to be free and I am able to push through.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Living my life is so much better than surviving it.



Tayla is recovering from anorexia. She hopes to major in Culinary Arts/Business one day. She writes about eating disorder recovery and anxiety.

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1 Comment

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  • What a great, and very important, post! As you were, I am also pretty terrified of a relapse. I had a small one a month or so ago where I binged like crazy because I just didn't know how to handle my emotions. I was scared out of my mind because I didn't know how to stop.

    It's great that you have something like a "checklist" that helps you to recognize the signs that you may be in trouble. I think that is key. Great job!