As I have transitioned to being in college, a new place where I need to reestablish my identity, I can’t help but wonder, am I still anorexic?
Sort of, kind of, maybe, yes, but also probably no.
Does that clear things up?
Yeah, not for me either.
When people see me today they would not know I had/have anorexia unless I tell them. I am weight restored. I don’t look like I did a year ago. I am thankful for this, but it also leaves me very confused about my identity. I am most definitely not fully recovered. I still have my hard days. Times where I don’t want to eat. Times where I feel fat when I do eat. Times where I restrict on desserts. So on and so forth.
I mean I still struggle with the mental aspect of my eating disorder, but am I still anorexic? I mean looking at the description of anorexia nervous on NEDA’s website I no longer have most of the symptoms. They were symptoms I experienced in the past, but are not present currently. I am not obsessed with food and weight. For the most part my self-esteem is not centered around how I am feeling about my body. I am not severely underweight. I try not to restrict. But then again sometimes I do. And sometimes feeling like I ate too much can really mess up my mood. Or I overthink what I am eating and keep thinking about it long after I should have stopped. Sometimes I catch myself planning what I will eat instead of being more intuitive and listening to what I am hungry for. Sometimes I don’t completely follow my meal plan. I had/have anorexia.
I am in the awkward middle phase. The only way to reach full recovery is to get through it. But if I am not careful I could still fall back to my old habits. I have spent far too long already fighting my own mind, so I know deep down I do not want to relapse. It’s all in my mind at this point and it is up to me to stay strong. I know too much to just fall victim to anorexia. I can tell in myself when I want to use my old habits to cope. And I know better than to do so.
The best way I can describe it is this: when I entered recovery I was embarking on a journey to cross a bottomless pit, one that I could easily fall into. Slowly I built a bridge on this cliff, even though I couldn’t see the other side. I did not know what I was working towards and how long it would take me to get there. I was going blindly, hoping that something better was out there. There were times where I broke parts of the bridge and would have to rebuild them. Gradually a bridge formed, arching over the cliff and keeping me safe from the pit. Now I am at a place where I can see the other side of the pit, and I can almost reach it, but I am not quite there yet. I still need to put a few more pieces into place for the bridge to be complete. And then there is the single hardest step of all: jumping off the bridge, walking away, and leaving it behind me.
Right now my eating disorder still feels like part of who I am in some weird way. It will always be part of who I am because it is something I have gone through, but for now it is still a piece of my mind. As much as I hate it, there is still a piece of me that wants it. Yesterday I had my first blind weight done since I have arrived at college. It made me kind of happy, in a disordered way. Like, I still am not healthy. I can hold onto this piece of me. If felt like old times where I was weighed every week. There is a piece of me that cannot take the final jump to let go of my ED. I have felt like this for a while now. I can’t seem to relinquish the reigns completely. I still want that control, however small it has become now. I had/have anorexia.
If I tell people about my story, I naturally say I had anorexia. This is in part because I feel like they would be confused when they look at me and think She doesn’t look anorexic. Yeah, I don’t because I am weight restored. But I don’t really want to explain all of that. Also, I want to make it seem like I am okay now. Like I had anorexia, but am fine now. I am not completely fine now, though. I still have an eating disorder. When my professor brought cookies in my gut reaction was Ugh! not Yay! like a normal college student’s would be. Mentally I am not normal. Yet I am not really anorexic either.
This middle is terrible. So is every stage of recovery though. It is easy to forget that. I mean, I am doing better than I was during most of recovery. Yet, it still takes a toll on me from time to time. I am not fully recovered and I know that. I have days where I do great with eating and being positive about my body. I have days where the opposite is true. I have days somewhere in the middle. I have days where it depends on the hour, the minute even, how I am doing. That’s just the way recovery works.
So am I anorexic? Not really. I had anorexia. I still have an eating disorder. But overall I would say the part of me that was anorexic is just about gone. There are those spare thoughts that pop up, but I don’t think I can describe myself, where I am at right now, as being anorexic. I am a disordered eater. I am a recovering anorexic. But anorexia does not define me.
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