Struggles from the Home Front

I’m feeling like a warrior stuck in the trenches: can’t move forward, but won’t regress back.

Why am I afraid of full recovery?

I don’t know. I’m hoping to find out through this blog post.

at-war

Yesterday I was talking to someone from my dorm on the way back from dinner. She said how I seemed to really have my life together because I am very organized and get stuff done. I have been told similar things many times, but I still do not really know how to respond. I said something along the lines of, “Well it’s nice of you to say that, but it’s not really that simple.” She didn’t think much of my response, but I knew what I meant. I definitely seem like I have my life together from the outside. I am going to a great college, I am a successful cellist, I am a hard worker, I am a caring person. Yet, from my perspective I don’t really “have my life together,” even though I do a good job of making it seem like I do. I mean I have months and months of practice. I am practically an expert at making it seem like things are going well, even when they are not. How I present myself in social situations is not usually a good gauge for how my life is actually going. I have stayed in school throughout my treatment for anorexia. I am good at making it seem like everything is just fine, even though I am still working towards full recovery.

Clearly I am functional, so why do I have to be fully recovered? Because not being fully recovered is absolutely dreadful. I have a disordered mind and don’t even have the skinny body to show for it. I want to live a normal life where I can be happy and not think about my body and food constantly. I know I want to be free. It’s just not that simple and takes so much time and effort. I recently read this blog post and it was a good reminder of what a recovered life can be like. Maybe not all sunshine, rainbows, donuts, and candy without ED thoughts, but overall a much better life to be living. A life where I am free. I do want that.

But part of my own mind is still fighting me. And let me tell you, it’s just so tiring. People who have never had a mental illness can’t truly understand what it is like. I have not gone a single day, maybe even a single hour without thinking about food or my body in close to two years. I have obviously learned to fight it to be where I am today, but it still can be so frustrating. Sometimes my ED thoughts catch me off guard and before I am cognizant of them, they have consumed me for much longer than is healthy. I know that I must continue to fight back, but there still is this piece left that is not giving up.

Part of have an eating disorder is that it is a coping mechanism. For me it is something to fall back on when I am not feeling good enough or am uncertain. When I am feeling inadequate, my body is what takes the brunt of my feelings. That is how my brain is wired at the moment, so I have to continuously try and change this. It is just so hard and does not happen overnight. And I am not sure that I would want it to. ED still feels like a piece of who I am. I feel like it is part of my identity. I couldn’t go from just having it to not having it. I need to be weaned off of it. So that not having it is not so much of a shock. And I mean I have come so far.  I do not have many rules about what I can and cannot eat any more. I try and eat intuitively and follow my meal plan, some days more successfully than others. It is still hard when I have an off day and cannot follow my meal plan normally. My brain feels uncomfortable with that. But normal eating means not always having a rigid schedule, so I want to be flexible.

I think the worst thing right now is thinking that I could just go back to being anorexic. I know that shouldn’t even be an option, but ED tells me it is. ED tells me You are not skinny enough, you need to look like you did before treatment. I don’t really want to look anorexic, but part of me does. I know it’s not worth it. And when I spot other anorexics on campus (I have an uncanny talent for this), I realize they do not look good. Really they don’t. But disordered minds reinforce unhealthy bodies.

I mean at this point I am one tired out recovery warrior because I have been fighting my own mind for so long. But I also know that it will be a lot easier to continue on my path towards full recovery in comparison to becoming fully anorexic again and having to start all over. Plus, I now know being skinny won’t make me happy. Only accepting myself fully can do that.

I am so hesitant to relinquish the “control” I have over what I am eating (even though the disorder is controlling me). It seems like I could just stop at this point in my recovery, but I know I would not be living up to my fullest potential then. Some people in the field say once an anorexic always an anorexic, but I am a believer that full recovery is possible. Most of my life I had a healthy relationship with food. I don’t see why I cannot again. I have to be willing to let go of my eating disorder in order for it to stop. Part of me wants to keep this piece of me. I think that ultimately is what is holding me back: feeling like my eating disorder is what gives me worth. That it’s what makes me different. It just seems so daunting to not have it, even though it is also scary to think about having to keep living with it. I must keep battling. With each bite. With each thought. With each minute I waste on my disorder. I do NOT want to stay half-way recovered. Yes, I am physically healthy, but I want to reach full mental health now as well. I deserve to live a life where my ED is EnDED.

dinner-table-battlefield

Photos via Pinterest

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