Eating Disorders

Surviving Relapse

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I would be lying if I sat here and told you that my recovery has been perfect and wonderful and I have always been right on track with everything, so I won’t. To be honest, my recovery has been full of ups and downs like you wouldn’t believe – as I’m sure it is for most in recovery from an eating disorder. I find that some days I feel as though I am on top of the world and I am so motivated, then other days I am stuck in a rut of depression and hopelessness not knowing where to turn. I believe this is natural and actually is needed in order to completely heal.

My relapse started when I entered into my first year of college. I was doing relatively well before I left – I was trying new foods and questioning ED more than ever – but the thought of the dreaded “freshman 15” scared the hell out of me, so I was determined not to let it happen.

When I finally arrived at school, nothing went as planned, and I found myself gaining weight. I wasn’t adjusting to the dorm living atmosphere or to the college schedule and it seemed hard to figure out a time to go to the gym and stick to my healthy eating habits. I felt myself losing control and I hated what I saw in the mirror, so I began to fall back into ED and followed his instructions.

I began losing weight, and even though I seemed to feel better about my body, my thoughts were beginning to kill me. I couldn’t focus on anything but calories and burning them, so naturally school work was put on the back burner and I became more and more irritable and annoyed with everything. I cried a lot more too, and started becoming very depressed – feeling there was no way out, and that I’d be stuck in this illness for the rest of my life.

I couldn’t see what the point of life was anymore and I couldn’t figure out if recovery was really possible.

I thought ED would save me and so I clung to him like a teddy bear. He made me think that losing weight was the only thing I was good at, which just confirmed the fact that I was worthless and would never go anywhere in life. I got to the point where I seriously considered ending everything…this is something I had thought about before as well, but this was the first time I really thought about it.

One night I lay in bed and cried for hours until it finally hit me: I was ruining my life. I was listening to ED and it was going to kill me.

But wasn’t this what I wanted anyway?

Then I started thinking about what would happen if I were no longer here and the tears just wouldn’t stop. I realized that I would be missing out on my life, the life I once had big dreams for, the life I desperately fought for just two years before, the life I thought I would live to the fullest, the life that included a loving family with my future husband and the children we would have. I wanted this life again.

I didn’t want to continue down the destructive road I was on and knew I wanted to change for good, but how? – This is where motivation comes in and, oh boy, did I need some!

During the relapse it seemed I had forgotten all my motivations for recovery and a happy life, so now I needed to find them again. A conversation with my fiance jumbled them back into view. My biggest dream in life was to marry the man I loved and raise a loving family with him – one that I could come home to and instantly be happy, one that I could cook dinner for every night, one that I could laugh with and love with everything I had, and all this started with me getting back on track and taking care of myself. I knew that if I didn’t start getting back to a healthy and strong place both weight wise and thought wise, I would surely ruin all chances of ever being able to get pregnant and thus half of my dream was gone – Just like that.

I needed to change in order to see my dreams come true.

I also learned that people around me stopped liking me as much when I was consumed by ED; I had become a grumpy, irritable, isolated girl, and someone who was rarely happy – basically, I’d become someone that people didn’t want to be around.

Now I had the determination, so it was time to put it to action.

I began searching online for recovery blogs and more motivation when I stumbled across something called “What I Ate Wednesday”, where countless bloggers take photos of what they ate for a day and post it on their blog as a way to share their healthy and sometimes not so healthy eats with others. It’s all about non-judgmental eating. I was fascinated by this. I started reading through blog after blog and ended up finding all kinds of people who had similar stories and experiences as me. This made me realize that I wasn’t alone in my struggles and it also gave me hope for recovery because other people were writing and living proof of their own freedom. I was motivated more than ever.

As I sit here and write this I am still recovering from the relapse, as it takes time and I know that I have to take it one day at a time.  It’s been about two weeks since I started reading these healthy blogs and I have made countless positive changes, including buying new foods that were previously fear foods such as nut butters and granola, and I have incorporated weight lifting into my exercise routine, which has helped wonders . I kept reading how strength training was helpful for recovery and was doing some before, but as I began to add it in more I noticed how amazing I started to fee l(and it helps regain any bone density I may have lost). It’s awesome knowing that I am building my muscles so I can be strong again, and in order to do this I need to feed and nourish my body with the right amount of calories and nutrients. I have learned to look at food for what it can do for my mind and body as opposed to just what I thought it was doing to my body.

I have also begun to separate the ED voice from my heart voice and am trying to notice when he is lying to me, which is all of the time. In a recent book on recovery it stressed thinking about ED as a real identity and how I need to “divorce” him in order to be free, which was very helpful. It’s easier to picture ED as a real person because this way it is easier to disobey his ruling and painful commands.

Overall, I believe that this experience has been truly rewarding because it has made me focus on my future and the dreams I still want to fight for. It has opened my eyes to new and exciting things and I can’t wait to one day finally see the light in all of this and be free.

Free like the butterflies.

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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