Life with Ed, Part 3: Recovery, or Something Like It.

Disclaimer: This is a series of posts about my experiences with anorexia and bulimia.  Many of the things I discuss could be extremely triggering if you are dealing with an eating disorder, so please read at your own risk. I am not a doctor or a therapist. I am simply telling you my story.

Just in case you’re tuning in for the first time, check out part 1 and part 2 of my story first. Otherwise you’ll have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. Last we left off, I had finished telling you the story of the past 11+ years I’ve spent suffering from anorexia and bulimia. Today’s post will talk about what recovery looks like for me today, the health issues I’ve suffered from as a result of my eating disorder, and some of the tools I use to try and encourage my recovery.

The Health Issues

When you’re an eating disorder patient, doctors, therapists, family, and friends spend a lot of time trying to educate you on the health issues that can result from anorexia and bulimia in an attempt to scare you straight. At the risk of sounding like an asshole, I’m going to tell you that I always thought this tactic was kind of funny because of the type of person I am. From where I am sitting, no one, no matter how stupid, can possibly think that starving themselves or purging all their food is healthy. That being said, it’s possible that people don’t realize how dangerous it really is, so that’s fine. I, on the other hand, knew exactly how dangerous it was because I am a compulsive researcher. I love to learn. I am fascinated by details, facts, etc, so I knew exactly what I was doing to my body and how damaging it was. And I absolutely did not care. Eating disorders aren’t a choice, so it’s not like I was picking to live a lifestyle I thought was healthy and then found out it wasn’t.

I really need to watch House more often. That's some good shit.
I really need to watch House more often. That’s some good shit.

Let me drop some knowledge on you for a second. Anorexia Nervosa, the medical name for anorexia, involves self-starvation. By depriving the body of nutrients required for bodily functions, the body is forced to “slow down” to conserve energy. When it slows down, this is what happens:

  • Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which mean that the heart muscle is changing.  The risk for heart failure rises as heart rate and blood pressure levels sink lower and lower.
  • Reduction of bone density (osteoporosis), which results in dry, brittle bones.
  • Muscle loss and weakness.
  • Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure.
  • Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness.
  • Dry hair and skin, hair loss is common.
  • Growth of a downy layer of hair called lanugo all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm.

Bulimia Nervosa, the medical name for bulimia, is characterized by binge-purge cycles, which can disrupt the entire body. The type of effects one suffers can depend on the method of purging used. Consequences include:

  • Electrolyte imbalances that can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death.  Electrolyte imbalance is caused by dehydration and loss of potassium and sodium from the body as a result of purging behaviors.
  • Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting.
  • Tooth decay and staining from stomach acids released during frequent vomiting.
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation as a result of laxative abuse.
  • Gastric rupture is an uncommon but possible side effect of binge eating.

Both of these conditions can lead to heart attack and death.

OK, sorry for all that technical stuff. Probably the most common question I get when people find out I am bulimic is about my teeth. For the record, my teeth are just fine. My dentist is actually consistently impressed by them, and he has never asked me if I am bulimic because he can’t tell. Danielle = 1, Bulimia= 0. But that’s pretty much where my victories end.

As those of you who have been readers of my blog for awhile now know, I have a heart condition called Paraxysmal Atrial Tachycardia. I started having heart problems about 6 years ago, when I noticed irregular heart beats, a racing pulse, and the feeling that my heart was pounding out of my chest. At the time, my doctor told me to cut caffeine out of my diet, and I did – I haven’t had caffeine since (yes, that means no coffee. Ever.) The condition has worsened over the years, and back in March, I got the full gamut of tests run on me and got my official diagnosis. Telling my cardiologist my whole medical history, anorexia, bulimia, and all, he told me in no uncertain terms that the electrolyte imbalances I’ve been causing myself for the past decade have disrupted the electrical impulses in my heart, causing my condition. My heart muscle has changed as a result, and I will likely always deal with this condition. So, my teeth made it out just fine, but my heart? Yeah, not so much. And that’s kind of a big one.

Fact
Fact

I’ve been asked by some people if my stomach problems and chronic reflux can be attributed to my bulimia, and the answer to that is a difficult one to answer. GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) runs in my family, so it’s no surprise that I suffer from it. That being said, bulimia can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (the thing that keeps your food inside your stomach) over time, so its highly possible that I have made my condition worse than it might have been otherwise as a result. It’s not hard to imagine that with the constant abuse of food coming back up, the sphincter just gave up trying. I don’t really blame it. In a way, my GERD has actually been a blessing. I am so sick from my reflux most of the time that I am throwing up unintentionally – I don’t have the compulsion to throw up intentionally as often because I’m always sick. It’s kind of strange, but it seems to be the case.

So basically, I’ve completely screwed up my heart and my stomach, and I have no one to blame by myself.  And let’s not forget the femoral neck stress fracture I gave myself back in 2010. I wanted to believe I was going to be one of the lucky ones who never suffered from any of the serious health consequences of eating disorders, but that was stupid. It’s pretty much a given that if you torture your body for as long as I have, you’re going to have serious effects. For a long time, I believed that I could blame other factors for my health issues, but the reality is, the majority of them have either been directly caused or clearly exacerbated by my eating disorder, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow – pun obviously intended.

The Recovery

As I mentioned in my most recent post in this series, my recovery process is a battle every single day.  Each time I eat a meal, I have an intense mental debate over whether or not I should throw it up. I always know that the answer is that I should not, but that’s not always the resulting behavior. Sitting at a table with other people, particularly people who know that I am bulimic, causes me a great deal of stress. “Alright, we just ate. I can’t go to the bathroom right now, they’ll know. No, I really shouldn’t throw up. But I have to. But I can’t. It’s bad. But I’m going to get fat. Who cares if they know? But I can’t…” and it just goes on and on. I’ve missed out on so many conversations thanks to this little argument. That being said, I’ve learned a lot over the course of many years of therapy, and I’ve come to be pretty good at identifying my triggers and figuring out what things I need to do to ensure a healthy day.  What you won’t hear me saying are things like “think kind thoughts” or “be nice to yourself.” Are those things important? Sure, but I’m a person who needs actual tasks in order to succeed. Nothing nebulous. So, here are some things that have helped me personally. They might not work for everyone, but I’m only the most hilarious blogger of all time, not a therapist. I can’t do everything.

1. Throw away the scale.

When I first started going to therapy and trying to get my handle on my eating disorder, I was told I had to get rid of my scale. Although it was extremely traumatic at first, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Seeing the number on the scale was a huge trigger, no matter what it was. A “high” number meant I was failing and had to try harder. A low number meant I was on the right track and had to keep going. For someone with an eating disorder, there is no “goal weight.” There is no number at which you are satisfied with your appearance. The “goal weight” just keeps getting lower and lower as you reach each one. I found that I often was the most disgusted with myself at my lowest weights, because this is when the eating disorder has the strongest grasp on my brain. Although I bought a scale about 6 months ago, I keep it behind a closed door now – out of sight, out of mind – and I rarely weigh myself. AJ uses it more than I do. When I go to the doctor, I turn around on the scale and ask the nurse not to tell me my weight, because scales vary dramatically and I don’t want to hear a “bad” number that will set me off. They usually laugh at me, but it’s something I’ve found that is super important.

Truer words have never been spoken.
Truer words have never been spoken.

2. Recognize your weaknesses.

One of the most important things in recovery is to be honest with yourself, and I’ve learned this the hard way. I’ve lied to myself a thousand times throughout this issue, and one of the things I have lied the most to myself about is that I can watch what I eat. I can’t. Any time I have tried to lose weight by going on a diet, however honorable my intentions are, I always end up becoming obsessed and going overboard. This happened just recently back in August when I felt that I had gained a bunch of weight and needed to lose it. This happened just months ago, and I’ve known this about myself for years. I joined Weight Watchers and started tracking my food on MyFitnessPal, and I lost 13 pounds in about a month. I do not have the ability to count calories, points, or anything else. As soon as I try to tell myself that I am going to eat in moderation, or that I “can’t” eat certain things, I immediately want to beat my calorie goal. MyFitnessPal tells me I should eat 1,200 calories a day plus whatever I burn off running? Forget that, I’m going to eat 900 total. I get so competitive and so focused that I just can’t stop myself. I’ve learned over the course of my recovery that it’s really just not possible for me to “diet” and lose a few pounds. I need to just maintain a healthy weight through exercise and just eat whatever I want, because as soon as I start to restrict, I freak out. I can’t promise I will never go down that path again, but admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right?

3. Identify body triggers.

Pretty much everyone has some part of their body that they are the most unhappy with. Eating disorder patients hate pretty much everything about themselves, and I’m no exception, but my thighs have always been the thing that makes me the most insecure. I feel physically ill every time I see my thighs in the mirror, with no exceptions. It’s stupid, but it’s true. As a result, as soon as I get out of the shower, I almost always immediately put on long shorts, sweatpants, etc to cover my thighs while I am blowdrying my hair. If I am forced to stare at them in the mirror for too long, I freak out. There’s something about seeing them bare that I just cannot handle. Maybe this isn’t the best tactic for ultimate body acceptance, but right now, it’s about survival for me, so I’m not going to pretend like I stand there and tell myself how fit and toned my thighs are and how proud I should be that they carry me through marathons, because I don’t. Maybe one day. Right now, I cover those suckers up and forget they exist.

4. Avoid the Golden Corral.

I love food. I’m not going to lie. As a runner, I am almost always hungry, which doesn’t exactly help my cause.  As much as running has helped my recovery in many ways, it has made it more challenging at times as well, because I feel so hungry most of the time. As someone who has a history of restricting calories and throwing up when I feel like I’ve eaten too much, feeling hungry all the time can be very dangerous, because the amount I need to eat to feel satisfied is a lot of food, which in turn can make me feel depressed, anxious, and like I need to purge. Therefore, it’s important for me not to put myself in situations where I have the ability to eat everything in the world, such as buffets. Trust me, I love a good buffet, but I just can’t do them anymore. I always eat too much and I always end up throwing up everything I eat. I do not have the self control I need in that environment, so I can’t go.

Golden Corral is the best/worst.
Golden Corral is the best/worst.

5. Find distractions.

I know that every time I eat, I’m going to have anxiety. It’s a given for me at this point in my recovery. That means that I have to come up with creative solutions to settle my nerves in the event that I eat a bigger meal than I should have or less healthy food than I should have. At work these days, I’m pretty busy, so I’m usually distracted enough to be ok. The problem is more at home after work or on the weekends, when I’m less distracted. A few things that work well to distract me are going for a walk, run, or bike ride, watching a favorite show (ok, it’s pretty much always SVU) with AJ, or doing a little online shopping. I don’t usually end up buying anything, but making myself believe that I might distracts me just enough to let some of the fullness pass. Of course, the thing I do to resolve the anxiety depends on the source of the anxiety. If I want to throw up because I ate too much, the solution is different than if I want to throw up because I had a bad day at work. Multiple solutions for resolving stress are key because it doesn’t make sense to stop myself from purging my food through vomiting if my alternative is purging through excessive exercise.

6. Identify food triggers.

Inevitably, some foods affect how we feel differently than others. Small amounts of some foods make us feel very full, while large quantities of other foods don’t. Eating a ton of vegetables isn’t likely to make you feel really bad about yourself. For me, the food that makes me feel worst about myself is typically dessert, but especially ice cream. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s ice cream or frozen yogurt, either – I think it has to do with the consistency and the way it sits in my stomach. Whatever the case, it is incredibly challenging for me to eat ice cream without throwing it back up. I absolutely love desserts and sweets, so that one is tough for me too. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but it really just depends on how much I have eaten before I eat dessert and what it is. I have been working really hard on waiting awhile after I eat dinner to decide if I feel well enough to eat dessert, but again, it’s a battle. The important thing is identifying problems and figuring out solutions before you’re faced with the situation.

I've never done this, but only because I always forget to buy Hershey's syrup.
I’ve never done this, but only because I always forget to buy Hershey’s syrup.

7. Find foods that make you happy.

Food doesn’t have to be the enemy. Just as there are foods that make you feel bad when you eat them, there are also foods out there that make you feel good, even if you aren’t in a place to believe that yet. Identifying these “safe” foods is just as important as identifying your trigger foods, because they are foods you can trust. For example, I drink hot chocolate every morning, made with skim milk, because it settles my stomach, never makes me feel like I ate too much,  and is delicious. I don’t feel bad after having it, so I rarely throw it up. I look forward to drinking it. I also eat a lot of rice, because unlike bread, it doesn’t make me feel too full when I eat it. I pick baked potato chips instead of fried. It’s not even necessarily about making healthy choices – a brownie is going to upset me mentally much less than ice cream. That doesn’t mean I don’t like ice cream, it just means that I’m going to try to pick the “safe” foods as often as I can. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but knowledge is power.

8. Cut the crap out of your life.

Ok, flame me if you want for quoting Nicole Richie, but I remember reading this quote in a magazine article about 7.5 years ago and thinking it made so much sense. She said: “A lot of times you have to separate yourself from the people who are still in [a negative place]. Hopefully when they come out of it, you can start a friendship with them. You have to cut out the people who are not good for your life.” As you’ve seen from this series of posts (or maybe have experienced yourself), many people joke about eating disorders, make insensitive comments, etc. without ever intending to cause harm to the people they are speaking to. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be held accountable for their words, but it’s challenging to be sensitive about something you don’t understand and are unaware of. Luckily, we have options. If you find yourself unable to be around someone who constantly obsesses about food or weight, says things that make you feel bad about yourself and your body (intentionally or unintentionally), whatever, cut that person out of your life. At the very least, stop talking to them about the topics that upset you. Change the subject. Ask them a question. Whatever. In an ideal world, you would explain to them why their behavior bothers you, but you might not be in a place yet where you feel strong enough to do that. And in reality, they still might not stop their behavior and you’re faced with a difficult choice. That’s ok. You have to do what is best for you and your recovery. This is something I continue to struggle with, but I’ve found to be extremely important.

I pretty much can't be friends with these people.
I pretty much can’t be friends with these people.

On that note, it’s not enough just to cut out people that make you feel badly about yourself. Are you obsessively reading “healthy living” blogs and being told that brownies are bad, while secretly harboring an undying love for brownies (like me)? Participating on weight loss message boards and being told your daily menu isn’t up to par? If something you are reading or doing is negatively affecting your self esteem, stop. No one can do this but you. This doesn’t mean that the actual content of what you are reading is necessarily bad or unhealthy. For some people, working out a million times a day and existing on salads and fruit might be totally healthy and not obsessive behavior at all, but I’m not one of those people. Reading about stuff like that makes me feel bad, so I don’t read it.

It’s for this reason that I actually don’t read many running blogs. Running blogs, particularly running blogs written by more talented athletes than me, make me feel bad about myself. I don’t eat the right things. I’m not as fast. I don’t do as many hill workouts as I should. I detest speed workouts. Well…so what? They aren’t inspirational to me, even if they should be, and it’s not the writer’s fault. They aren’t doing anything wrong, my brain is. If I’m reading something that makes me feel bad about myself, it’s my responsibility to stop.

Obviously, I hope my blog has never made you feel bad about yourself, but if it has, DON’T READ IT. I won’t be offended. Your mental health is far more important than my number of subscribers.

If you haven't seen this guy's interview, check it out here. It's worth your time.
If you haven’t seen this guy’s interview, check it out here. It’s worth your time.

And that’s pretty much life for me these days. It’s tricking myself. It’s being honest. It’s making the hard choices and trusting that the small victories will add up to a big win over time. My ideal recovery will be a world in which I never have negative thoughts about my body, I embrace my self worth, and I make healthy food choices most of the time but don’t feel guilty about treats enjoyed in moderation, but that’s not my reality yet. For now, it’s about the baby steps that I’m taking that will lead me there.

Tell me: How do you cope stress and problems in your life? If you’re recovering or recovered from an eating disorder, what helped you?

46 thoughts on “Life with Ed, Part 3: Recovery, or Something Like It.

  1. You are amazing! By writing this blog you have help so many us to understand this illness and its effects on the people it attacks! Praying everyday that you continue to have the strength to fight this illness, we love you so very much and are so very proud of you!

  2. Thank you for being so open about your experiences. I think it takes me one step closer to…well, not quite understanding since without going through it I don’t think I ever could…but as close as one can get….

    1. I hope you never truly understand, but getting as close as possible sounds good to me. I’ll be doing a Q&A session soon, so please let me know if you have any questions!

  3. Thank you for sharing your experiences so candidly. A dear friend has had anorexia in various stages of recovery and relapse for 30 years. It is such a difficult disorder to understand, and I’m not sure I ever will, but I see the anxiety that food causes for her (even though she is a master at hiding it). Here’s wishing for good health for you…

    1. I feel like pretty much everyone knows someone (whether they realize it or not) that has an eating disorder, and that’s exactly the point of this series. I really want people to be able to understand just a little bit of what we go through on a daily basis. I hope this helps you see a little bit of where your friend is coming from, even if it never completely makes sense. Thank you for reading!

  4. I just want to say thank you for being brave enough to write these posts. Its sounds like you are trying to stay in a good place most days. Take it day by day (isn’t that what we are all supposed to do? take it day by day) Some days if I am feeling stressed a good episode of Big Bang Theory or Friends helps me get away or reading a good book or hanging out with friends. Good Luck and keep taking everything day by day!

    1. Ahh Friends…I miss that show so much! I quote it way too often and AJ was just a little too young to have seen it, so he never knows what I’m talking about. Thanks for reading!

  5. Hi Danielle! I just wanted to say how proud I am of you for sharing your on going battle. I can only assume that AJ is a very supportive partner and is a strong shoulder to fall back on. Good luck with your up coming surgery! Our thoughts and prayers will always be with you!! Are you going to be close to Detroit in any of your planned Marathons this year?

    Uncle Lee

    1. Hey Uncle Lee! I will be in Kalamazoo, MI the first weekend in May. I’m not sure how far away that is from Monroe. The race is on Sunday, May 5. I would love to see y’all if I can!!

  6. I admire your courage for sharing these last few blog posts. You mentioned not reading many running blogs. If you’re interested in reading mine, which is pretty much only about the people I meet, and the actual race experiences (I did do one post about Gu and sports drinks), here’s the link: http://sandyruns.blogspot.com/

    I’ve been woefully behind in keeping the blog current, as you’ll see by my most recent post (September!). But you, and one other blogger, have recently inspired me to get back into the game, so expect some new posts soon.

    Hang in there. I may not see you at Myrtle Beach after all (still recovering from a stupid leg injury from slipping on ice…grrrrr).

    1. Girl, you need to get on the ball! I can’t wait 5 months for new reading material 🙂 I will definitely check your blog out if you promise to update it regularly. I’m so sorry to hear you got hurt! I hope you get better soon. Let me know if you end up coming after all!

  7. I always write and post and it disappears! I enjoyed hanging out this weekend and even told Matt I didn’t feel weird or really think about it much. I don’t want to be “fake” around you, don’t feel the need to, and shouldn’t. I’m going to support you in any way possible. You are beautiful and thin and have nice toned legs! Lets plan for Alaska!

    1. This weekend was great! I understand why you might feel weird, but you shouldn’t. I’m not any different now than I was when you met me, you just know more about me. I really appreciate your support and CAN’T WAIT FOR ALASKA!!

  8. Thank you for sharing your story. The turning point in recovery for me was a therapist asking me what I wanted to be for Halloween? Blank stare (me). She said “do you want to be steel or do you want to be human?” blank stare(me). She said “steel works hard but it can’t feel. Sure it is strong but it doesn’t have life. If you choose to be human – being human has feelings- and it is ok to feel. It’s ok not be to be perfect to everyone because you get to live and it is your life to live”. For what ever reason – it has stuck with me for the past 15 years. Sometimes I feel lke I might want to go down the’ dark road’ but I think to myself- I am not perfect and that is ok. I choose life. I choose to be human. I choose to feel.

    You are on the right track. God bless.

    1. Isn’t it strange the things that stick with us some times? I feel like what my therapist said to me was not even that enlightening when I look back, but for some reason it just clicked. Thanks for sharing part of your story!

  9. I love your writing and have been following your blog for about 4 months. I am not a runner (sister-in-law is a tri-athlete and follows you). I also have no experience with ED but have found this series to be extremely interesting and insightful. It always has fascinated me how people deal with their adversities. I am especially struck by your determination, and so I have faith that you will find your way down this difficult road successfully. Please blog on!
    As for ways to cope with stress, EFT, also called Tapping, is one tool that has worked for me. (www.eftuniverse.com) I like it because (a) it’s free to learn; (b) it is self-administered; (c) even though it has a tinfoil hat aspect it actually works to reduce my stress. Go figure / results may vary.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge and I wish you the best.

    1. Pete, thank you for the tip! I am definitely going to check it out. I really appreciate you reading my blog. I have often wondered if my writing appeals to people who are not runners (or members of my family) but I guess now I know.

      Love the tinfoil hat reference. Seriously, I love it. Thanks for reading and your comment!!

  10. Very well said and very well explained. You are amazing and very strong for sharing your story with thousands of people and I commend you for it, as if you needed my approval. 😉
    One day at a time, just like one step at a time – you will succeed in this marathon called life with all that comes with it.
    Thanks for sharing your story and I truly enjoy reading all of your blogs!

  11. Again, I think it’s really amazing that you’ve shared your story. You’re helping other people find the words to express their experiences, and hopefully helping a few people consider the impact their words might have on other people.

    I know this is an odd thing to focus on from this series of posts, but I totally hate speed workouts too! I’m actually glad to know I’m not alone in that. I’m much happier running far than running fast.

    Anyway, keep fighting. You’re totally worth the effort. 😀

    1. Hahaha this comment made me laugh because something random like hating speed workouts is EXACTLY what I would focus on if I read a post like this. I am always proud of myself when I finish a speed workout, but man, pushing myself out the door to do one borders on impossible some days. Maybe if I was naturally fast I would feel differently, but meh. Thanks for reading 🙂

  12. Thank you again for sharing your story, it’s been so insightful so far and I understand more about anorexia and bulimia than I did before I read your posts.

    What really struck a chord with me was your last sentence about taking baby steps. I suffer from OCD and although the conditions are in no way similar, not having OCD isn’t part of my reality either at the moment and it is all about taking the little victories and not trying to run before you can walk.

    Keep up the fight!

    1. Rosie, I don’t think the conditions are so far off as you think. My therapist(s) told me that the obsessions of OCD are comparable to the thoughts that constantly plague the mind of someone with an eating disorder, and the compulsive behavior OCD patients exhibit is not dissimilar to the ritualized behavior of a lot of eating disorder patients. Unfortunately, I think we have a lot in common!

      Side note: I bet you are really sick of people saying things like “Omg, I’m so OCD that I like have to organize my closet by color or I like die. I don’t even have OCD and I’m sick of the phrase being thrown around like that!

      1. No I suppose they aren’t that different when you think about it like that.

        Yeah, it is annoying, but as you mentioned I try to avoid people who say things like that. As you said in your first blog post though, people don’t mean it in a horrible way, they just don’t know what it’s really like.

  13. Danielle – thanks SO much for sharing this! I think we all spend our youth certain that everyone else is better/smarter/faster/stronger/better looking/etc than us, and that we are unique in being wrapped up in total self-doubt. How we deal with it all is different.

    I dealt with the emotional constipation of my home by eating my emotions, to the point that I graduated college at ~375 pounds. By 24 I was 185, and while I have fluctuated, I have spent the vast majority of the last 23 years around 200-ish pounds. But since having my thyroid fail and then moving from Mass to NY my weight slowly climbed until last year, when after hitting 275 (>250 for first time since 1989) I finally got it back together, and am now a marathoner and am in the best shape of my life.

    So … I am in my mid(ish) 40s and know that I will be dealing with food and eating issues for the rest of my life.

    I am glad that your therapist called you on having a baby as a ‘miracle cure’ … because that is about the worst thing you could do to yourself, AJ and a baby. Because, as she said, it wouldn’t work.

    As you say, one day at a time … and we are all pulling for you. Why? Because we all read your stuff by choice, because it is real, honest, genuine and unique. I have your RSS under ‘running’, because that is how I group things. But through following a few blogs, then a few people with interesting comments, I ended up with a load of same-ish blogs that all follow the same ‘my workout / my meals’ formula … and I trimmed 90% of those recently.

    Keep up the battle and the good work, and know that you have a bunch of people who think you are pretty OK even when you don’t 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for sharing some of your story with me! I did a little happy dance/gloat when I saw that I made your cut of running blogs. So many of them are exactly the same, and it doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable, just means they aren’t for everyone! Thanks for reading 🙂

  14. Hi T Rex, Your story is sad but compelling reading. You are fighting so hard to battle a behavior that you know makes no sense. No ED for me, but I have never been able to stop biting my nails my entire life and I’m 58. It’s not a health-threatening habit, but it makes no sense, either. In fact, since nail biting is ugly and potentially germy, it’s totally illogical. An ED, though destructive, has the illusory goal of beauty, which in a way, makes some sense.

    I do appreciate how strong you will need to be in your struggle. As I write this, I’ve decided to make a new effort to lay off the fingernails. No promises of success, but you should feel good that your writing can have unexpected consequences.

    As always, keep up the interesting writing.

    Regards, Mark Helmus, #5956

    1. It is HARD to stop biting your nails! I haven’t been able to do it yet, but I bet you can. I’m so glad you were inspired to make a change. Thank you for your comment!

  15. Thanks for sharing again. This series is wonderful. I’ve wanted to share my story, but I was never brave enough. You are changing your life and possibly helping others. Hugs!

  16. Hi there. Just wanted to de-lurk and let you know that I’ve really been enjoying your blog and this series in particular. I am a survivor of Anorexia – was treated for it about 10 years ago. I guess I was lucky it didn’t turn to bulimia, I sure tried but my body does not throw up easily. I just want you to know that I so appreciate your transparency. I read a lot of blogs these days of people who are so obviously struggling with EDs or disordered eating that are in complete denial. It does get easier, over time ED’s voice gets quieter. I’m a runner too, but something that has really helped me recently has been getting a personal trainer and getting serious about weight training. I’ve been lifting weights regularly for about 6 months and slowly letting go of the constant cardio (running). Just thought I’d mention it because I feel like gaining some muscle and feeling strong has been the missing piece in my recovery and body acceptance. I seriously think it should be included in recovery programs it’s made that much of a differernce for me. Email me if you have any questions. 🙂

    1. Hi Alissa! Thanks for de-lurking! I am a chronic blog lurker myself. I am so glad that you have had success with recovery and especially that you’ve found a tool that can help you even more. Weight lifting really, really, really scares me and that is a huge mental hurdle that I will have to face at some point. My body puts on muscle really easily and of course, with an eating disorder, I’m constantly worried about being “bulky,” even though I know in reality weight lifting doesn’t do that. I think there might be something to be said for getting off the cardio train, though. Thank you for sharing and for reading!! I hope you’ll keep chiming in on future posts in the series.

      1. I had the SAME worries about being bulky. I really did. I was really lucky to find a trainer that didn’t push too much on me too fast and let me ease into it to see how my body reacted. I mainly did it at first because I thought it might help me run faster and keep from getting injured. I only did it once a week for awhile until I was sure I wasn’t going to become the hulk (haha). After a month or two I got comfortable enough to do it 2x a week (but legs only once a week because I didn’t want big legs LOL). And then I somewhere in there after a month or so I decided to start doing the legs too on second day. Then about 6 weeks ago I got a running injury in my foot and haven’t been able to run since. At that point, I just thought of it as an experiment and went full boar into weight training and have been doing a full body routine 3x a week because it was the only workout I could really do. My trainer (a woman) keeps telling me that as women, we really don’t have the ability to bulk up because we don’t make a lot of testosterone (most female body builders LIVE in the gym and also take drugs). It helps that she’s really into weight training and has a similar body type as me and is definitely not bulky.

        I’m only one person, but here is what has happened to me: My lower half and my tummy has gotten noticeably smaller, my up upper half now appears more toned (but not bigger in my opinion) and the weight on the scale has remained the exact same. Basically, I’ve lost a lot of body fat, and gained muscle. 1 pound of muscle takes up a lot less space than 1 pound of fat, I’m living proof. I’m seriously wearing jeans today that I wore when I was 15 pounds (!) lighter (not a healthy weight for me), and now I’m working out a lot less (about 3 hours a week), and I’m enjoying food not restricting it. And the confidence and body image boost you get from feeling strong and lifting heavy weights is so awesome.

        Anyway, didn’t mean for this to come off as a total advertisement for weight training. I’ve just been so excited with the results that I had to share. This has been working for me, but of course everyone has to find what works for them. I wish you all the best in your recovery and I will continue to read and comment 🙂

  17. Danielle, I admire you so much for sharing your story! It is so important for the public to know about the struggles of anorexia and to be aware of what they can do to help people they know in that situation. I am an almost-15-year-old and my journey with anorexia started at 10 years old, and I had never even heard anorexia, let alone realized that I was hurting myself. Anorexia is increasingly common in young children, which is tragic. I have been anorexia-free for over 2 years now and do my best to keep it locked up in the back of my mind. I have moved since, and none of my friends know. Your blog has inspired me to slowly pull some of those memories out and reflect. Just like you mentioned denying saying the word “anorexia”, I don’t sat the word either. It feels like a curse, something that I don’t want to associate with myself
    . I have so much hope for you! Thank you for being brave 🙂

    1. Em, thank you so much! You are very brave too and I am so proud of you for fighting back against anorexia. I am so glad to hear that my blogs are helping you deal with all of the emotions that come along with this crazy disease. Keep fighting! Two years in recovery is amazing. Thank you for writing!!

  18. “I love food. I’m not going to lie. As a runner, I am almost always hungry, which doesn’t exactly help my cause. As much as running has helped my recovery in many ways, it has made it more challenging at times as well, because I feel so hungry most of the time. As someone who has a history of restricting calories and throwing up when I feel like I’ve eaten too much, feeling hungry all the time can be very dangerous, because the amount I need to eat to feel satisfied is a lot of food, which in turn can make me feel depressed, anxious, and like I need to purge.”
    I can totally relate to this! It’s good to know there’s someone out there who can express this…that way I don’t feel so “Crazy” as an always-hungry runner 😛

  19. Yoga has saved my life. It calms my anxiety and gives me a chance to “turn off” my brain for awhile. Thank you for writing so honestly- its very admirable!

    1. Thank you so much for reading! I’m glad you’ve found something that helps take the edge off. Running does that for me!

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