ED 101: Recovery isn’t Linear

I’m sitting here on this lovely Monday afternoon rattled with thoughts. I have an increasingly strong desire to eat some ice-cream only to purge. Honestly I’ve been planning it for the last 24 hours.

One of my top recovery wins has been trying ice-cream again after 5 or so years and holy shit ice-cream is amazing. How did I ever live without it?

So yes- I love ice-cream. Recovery win! But it’s not that simple.

Yes I’ve started to eat ice-cream, but allowing a fear food opens the flood gates of my eating disorder. Guilt when eating it. Guilt for craving it. Guilt for enjoying it. Boat loads of shame and anxiety. At one point these thoughts were so loud that I straight up didn’t eat ice-cream- I didn’t really eat anything outside almonds, broccoli, sweet potato and boiled chicken.

The last 2 years of treatment have taught me to build strength, use coping skills and quiet these voices, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still there- they just aren’t on loud speaker.

This past weekend I went camping with friends. I felt empowered- at one point in my life I would have passed this opportunity up because the thought of not getting a gym workout in was so anxiety inducing. I even wore a bathing suit!

But still, I couldn’t help but notice my body conscious thoughts. How did I let myself go so much? I compared myself to nearby woman constantly. I kept trying to calculate the miles we hiked and the calories we probably burned. I scolded myself for eating so many “bad” foods like PB & J’s , beer and chips.

That being said, I still had fun. I was 500% more ‘in the moment’ than I ever had been a year ago. But recovery takes time, a long fricken time. Treatment doesn’t necessarily eliminate an eating disorder as you would a virus. It’s more about learning how to overpower the eating disorder voice using tools we learn in treatment.

My point being, recovery isn’t simply like an exorcism of the eating disorder out of someone. It’s still there, it always is. It’s just practicing tools, having awareness and gaining more insight as to why the eating disorder is acting out.

Perhaps its easy to think about it like this: Many people told me they were so happy I was feeling better when I got out of treatment.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. You don’t just “feel better”, at least for a fair amount of time. It’s still there, the ED voice is still there, recovery is about being strong enough to overcome that voice, to not listen to it, to choose health.

So sometimes, we slip up. We fall back into a trap and slip into our old ways. This could result in a bad week or perhaps another round of treatment, but either way, we come out stronger and more aware- ready for another push toward Recovery.

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