TRIGGER WARNING: Weight is mentioned and the inner thoughts of recovery are spilled out onto this page. It’s a raw account of how I feel right now and I do not want this to trigger others in recovery. I’d rather if you read it, you do so just to know that you are not alone.
Now I get it. I don’t remember this from recovery in the inpatient facility; perhaps it was too long ago to recall. Perhaps doing this alone is just a totally new experience and this is what makes it somewhat different.
I haven’t thought much about my ED because I was under the impression it was gone, or under control, or that I had overcome the relapse. Seems I was wrong. Seems that one can be so in the grip of it that one does not even know it is there. This is when the ED has gained complete control. I mean…how on earth did I not know it was still so prominent, working away in the background so efficiently that I did not even suspect it. Sneaky bitch.
It started during the Christmas season. I was slowly trying to increase my intake and working with a naturopath to heal my completely mangled gut. The digestive enzymes helped me immensely and took away a lot of the stuck, bloated-to-bursting feeling. The probiotics and gut support were helping with the feeling of inflammation. And together they seemed to cut down my flares noticeably. However I was still eating little and wasn’t really feeling hunger. Every morning I was drinking my smoothie filled with double cream yoghurt, banana, Superfood powders, protein powder and even started adding a raw egg. You’d think this would freak out anyone with an ED but I was fine with this. The smoothies were super filling and I still felt happy in my skin. I started having more energy and felt kind of sexy in a bikini. I was feeling healthy and it felt good. I was imagining, now that I could start working out, how lovely and toned I would look.
But somewhere along the line, eating that mouthful extra each time stretched my stomach and suddenly one day I was ravenous. I figured it was just because I hadn’t eaten enough the day before. This happens with restrictive eating. It’s all good. I will just make sure I eat properly today. But the next day I felt the same. And the next. And the next. Today I had an IBS flare up again due to drinking a cappuccino for breakfast. I was just craving one and I’m not sure if this was actually my mind craving it as a form of self sabotage or not. So I didn’t eat a lot to start off with. Normally during a flare up I go the whole day with very very little to eat as I am just too sore and feel too sick. But not today. It’s like I cannot help eating. I saw the time and thought, “hmm, I really should eat something today. My body needs it and I will feel worse if I don’t. I am already suffering lack of sleep and lack of food will mean I am unable to function at work.” So I nibbled small bits. But I feel like all these small bits added up to a whole big bit. And I swore I wasn’t hungry and didn’t need supper but around 8:30pm I needed food. So I ate a whole small bowl of fries with lashings of tomato sauce and salt. Beginning of December I couldn’t even eat half of one of those without feeling full or sick to my stomach…now look. It’s now 11pm and I could honestly eat more.
The last week and a half have been hell. I am walking around with what I call my “food baby”…a bloat that makes me look 3 months pregnant. I have a tiny frame. This is hideous and noticeable. My thighs feel more wobbly. I have more fat rolls when I sit down or bend over, I was trying to gain weight after I hit the lowest I have ever been at 52kg/114lb and was actually quite scared that even with eating all of this fat and the smoothies I was still losing. Then I put on 1kg/2lb over the last bit of December and I felt so proud. No really, I didn’t feel so scared. I felt in control of my body again. Then in the next week I gained another kg. I am now 54kg/119lb and want it to stop.
I don’t want to eat so much! I am terrified of this hunger! I read that this is all normal in recovery but reading it and experiencing it are two totally different things. Like, worlds-apart different. Suddenly Ana is there again and I hear “fatfatfat. Glutton. Where is your self control? You are so weak. Look what you’ve done now.” She is nasty. Where on earth was she hiding! I am able to ignore her mostly, but she is there again, even if just faintly whispering this poison. That’s how it starts. I can’t believe I feel hungry right now. I cannot possibly eat again. This is ridiculous. I spoke to my partner about it a bit and he actually listened and gave me some feedback. I didn’t say it in so many words but I did say I was struggling a bit. That I feel so uncomfortable in my skin. His mum overhead me say something about my food baby tonight and she said softly that it will pass. That my body will adjust again and I must be strong and push through it. My partner doesn’t quite get it but he listened and he said that I do need to put on a bit. Then in his ever logical manner he said I must look up what the ideal weight for my height is and aim for that. I said I am that. But he then looked and told me I should be at around 55kg/121lb minimum for my height so I don’t have far to go and then I can just maintain and be healthy.
How could I even begin to explain how awful it felt to hear that I was nearly at 55kg? That it made me feel terrified and a failure at the same time. How could I explain that it isn’t as simple as typing numbers into an online calculator. Or as simple as hitting a healthy weight and then ‘just being healthy’. What the hell is healthy? Even with eating clean and my stomach getting better…I look back and realise that it is also an obsession. Granted it’s a less dangerous one and at least being health conscious is a sight better than being restrictive. I have however started chewing and spitting again. This fear of throwing up may just be a blessing in disguise as it stops any form of bulimia setting in. But spitting and chewing is my form of it. I can stuff whole biscuits into my mouth and chewchewchew only to spit it out just before it can get down my throat. I can guzzle spoons of ice cream or a slice of bread (any foods I am not allowed because I know it sets off my IBS) and I will spit it out before it can hurt me.
Working with my naturopath, the next step was to cut out all grains and sugars but so far it’s been a disaster. Every day I slip up. Every day I say today will be the last piece of rye bread, the last sugar in my tea, the last bite of chocolate or the last biscuit. And every day I know it’s a lie. I feel this fat bloated food baby, I feel this ravenous hunger. I feel the guilt and the loathing. I try ignore it. I exercise so that perhaps I can become toned and fit instead of fat and lumpy. So that I don’t feel like this big lump of lard. I like being little. Is there anything so wrong with that? I like not feeling hungry because it means I am not a slave to food. It means I can say no. it means I choose when to eat not because I am hungry as such, but because I know I need to put fuel in to my body. And then I can choose totally clean foods because I am not driven by anything other than the knowledge that I need the right fuel for the vehicle.
This post is all probably quite over the top. I don’t think it’s this consuming. But I haven’t allowed myself to go here until now, so it’s all spilling out at once in to thousands of words that ramble on. I am at a crossroads. I know this. I know this is the part in recovery that they talk about, where my mind says that it’s nonsense. Where denial sets in. But it’s not denial…is it? It’s ridiculous. My body was doing so much better and suddenly this switch flipped. How do I flip it the other way?? I can’t do this. I’m terrified. I want to turn back. Make it stop. I don’t want to rely on food. But I also cannot go backwards. I want to go to university next year, I need to work hard this year to get in and I cannot do that if I go backwards. I don’t know who to talk to and I feel so trapped. Think it’s time to see my therapist again.