The Life You Save May Be Your Own

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Define Your Terms January 9, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 6:08 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

I thought I’d recovered from my eating disorder. I really thought I had, and I’m generally not into self-deception. But I think I was either lying to myself or I misunderstood the concept of recovery. Probably some of both.

I think I was defining “recovery” as “my ED is no longer the only thing I think, feel, or do.” See, my last bad relapse, the one that got me sent to Riggs, that relapse was all-consuming. Before that, I’d always still been functional alongside my ED. That time, though, it was my whole life. It was also the first ED episode anyone noticed (despite years of suffering before that), so I thought it was the only one that counted as a real eating disorder.

So when the ED stopped being my entire existence, I called that Recovery. I thought I’d found the holy grail of treatment: I was Fully Recovered. I was weight-restored, ate what I wanted when I wanted without a bunch of ugly feelings, and didn’t spend all day and night purging. I was Recovered.

Only I wasn’t. You can still be symptomatic even if that’s not your whole life. When I really hated myself, I restricted, even if it was only for a few days at a time. When anxiety and stress overwhelmed me, I purged. I had a full-blown bulimia relapse in Boston, but I discounted it because I pulled myself out of it after four or five mo this, without external intervention. When I moved to Northampton, I was purging a fair bit. It was intermittent, mostly in reaction to the stress of my relationship with Ex, and no one ever even knew. So that didn’t count either. I was still Recovered.

I’m not sure what exactly triggered the current restrictive relapse. Part of it was getting my back treated, being able to exercise again after six years, and the weight loss that resulted naturally from that. Part of it was having to cut dairy out of my diet. A large part of it was feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with life. And yes, a small part was my discomfort with being overweight–but only a small part.

This feels more like a “real” relapse to me. Probably in part because restriction = weight loss = attention = validation. People are worried, so that must mean my pain is real. I also have the numerical validation of dropping numbers on the scale. At least you can do THIS right, Sara. You’ve always been a prodigy at self-destruction.

Maybe I wasn’t vigilant enough when I should’ve been eternally guarding against relapse–but then where’s the time and space for living? Maybe I never had a solid enough definition of recovery to accurately define relapse. I don’t know.

I just know I need help, and in the morning I probably won’t even know that.


3 Responses to “Define Your Terms”

  1. Recovery is very personal and looks different for everyone. I prefer to use the word management because recovery feels like I can’t screw up ever again, and the fact of the matter is, I will. People hold me to that also and it’s not fair.

    • weordmyndum Says:

      That makes sense.

      I do know that, at least for eating disorders, full recovery does happen. I had this wonderful therapist in Birmingham, the one who sent me to Riggs. She’d had a crappy childhood and nearly died from her ED. She was also one one of the smartest, kindest, sanest people I’ve ever known. I’ve never told her, but she’s still my inspiration/aspiration even though I haven’t talked to her in almost five years. She’s the only reason I believe true, full recovery exists.

      With other issues, though, I do believe it will always be management for me. My depression, C-PTSD, and DID will probably never go away, but I can learn and heal enough to coexist peacefully with them. And that’s okay with me–I actually think my illnesses give me certain advantages that normal people don’t have. (But that’s probably a whole other post.)

      • I agree that they probably give you an advantage 😛 I feel the same about mine.

        Two of my close girl friends have ED’s. They have told me that it is something you either recover from or die from. You may always have a thing with food, especially in times of stress, but it’s something you can recover from.

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