It took me a whole day to reply.
This point in my own recovery hasn't really been one I've openly talked about for a couple of reasons, but the main on being, I was ashamed.
I was ashamed because I had gone through treatment and everyone thought I was doing better, yet I had a completely new battle going on in my head. It was as though my "discipline" I had for so long had jumped off a cliff and died. I felt like I really couldn't control my eating.
I felt like my disorder switched gears and I was now binging, without the purging. Yet, I really wasn't because my calories were still low. However, ED will play tricks on you, making you believe something that isn't true.
I would wake up every morning, eat some pepperoni slices and hope I could control myself until lunch time, yet I found myself in the kitchen all morning looking for more food to eat. Eventually, I just decided that since I couldn't wait for each meal, I'd just eat everything for the whole day, at one time.
I binged on all the food until lunch time and then completely stopped. I wouldn't have a single thing for the rest of the day.
Talking about this now, still brings shame and embarrassment.
Yet this is a natural part of recovery. The part between starving yourself and learning how to eat normally.
Eating normally was not something I understood, ever. Because I had been living with anorexia for over eight years, I had completely forgotten how this concept worked.
I was jealous of other people who didn't even have to think twice about eating, it just happened! It was natural.
For people with eating disorders, eating does not come naturally. It's hard work, whether we're engulfed in the eating disorder or not.
For me, the goal was normal eating, intuitive eating, but what I wasn't able to grasp, was that it didn't happen instantly. It wasn't going to be smooth sailing. It was going to take determination and a daily commitment to try again tomorrow.
I struggled for a long time with this whole eating-all-my-food-before-lunch-time thing, until I slowly was able to graduate to eating three meals normally. The key was to stay busy and distract myself until the next meal time. But the battle didn't stop there.
My first semester in college, I don't wanna say I let myself go, but I stopped caring so much about what I was eating. I would go to the grocery store every day and get Chinese food, jelly beans, chocolate, etc. and sit in my dorm room and eat and eat.
It wasn't like I didn't feel guilty about it either. Oh, I felt beyond guilty. But I couldn't control myself anymore, just in the opposite way of the anorexia. I had a new voice in my head that whispered, 'go ahead, have what you want, you deserve it'. But I still had ED's voice saying, 'you shouldn't eat that, you're going to gain weight!'
The difference now was that I could ignore ED's voice. And this was a good thing! Don't get me wrong, I was healing. It just felt awful.
After the jelly beans and chocolate, I would go to Ben's school to have dinner consisting of pizza and cookies, ice cream sandwiches and more chocolate. I didn't dare count calories because I was scared at what the number would be.
And then one day, I looked in the mirror, and when I realized I couldn't see my ribs anymore, I panicked, started bawling hysterically, and made a plan.
I wish, now, that I had continued down this eating-whatever-I-wanted path because I think it would have evened out and led to the 'normal eating' goal I was originally searching for. But I didn't. I relapsed.
I relapsed because I couldn't take the pains of recovery.
I think sometimes people assume recovery is all butterflies and pretty rainbows, but it's not. It hurts. It's down right painful. And it lasts for, what seems like, forever. You have to constantly feel uncomfortable, anxious, disgusting, miserable, etc., but it is the only path to freedom. There's no other way but the hard way. It's not easy.
There are all kinds of detours in recovery, some people may not experience what I'm talking about here, but may go through something completely different. It's still the same, you have to go through tough times to get to the other side.
I responded to this girl with a shorter version of my story, and also tried to make it clear that if you are coming out of anorexia, what the body is going to need most is nutrients, fuel, energy, and food is those things. Like it or not, food is what keeps us alive, and in the beginning it may feel like you won't ever stop eating, but it is truly what your body needs.
Your body never lies. It's always right, and it always lets you know what it needs. If you are willing to listen to it, even through hard times, and uncomfortable feelings, you'll gain something magnificent.