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 an doctor or a therapist. I am simply telling you my story. Please click here if you are interested in reading the other posts in this series.
I had a weird moment last week. I was sitting on my couch and I happened to think about my eating disorder. Mostly, I thought about how much I was not thinking about it, and how, for the first time in my life, it is normally pretty far from my mind. “Maybe I’m actually recovered now,” I thought. “Maybe this is what it feels like to finally be better.”
Two hours later, it seemed like the world had come crashing down thanks to various disasters at each of my jobs. I felt overwhelmed by feelings of self-doubt and anxiety, and everything felt like it was spinning out of control. I sat in my car on the way to teach a class at the barre studio and tried to think of a way to ease my anxiety and solve the problem. My very first thought was “Ok, I’m going to lose weight. Ugh, I’m disgusting – Danielle, you know you should have already lost those ten pounds. Ok, we can do this. I’ll sign up for MyFitnessPal again and I’m going to stop eating sugar and I’m going to run every day and…”
A light bulb went on. I couldn’t believe it. As soon as I realized what I was doing, I felt so ashamed and so disgusted. Literally two hours beforehand, I had been tooting my own horn about how “recovered,” I am, and then one little thing goes wrong and my ONE IDEA about how to deal with it is to lose ten pounds immediately? I sat in my car absolutely stunned, shocked, and grateful for the years of work I’ve put into therapy, recovery, and self-awareness that led me to even realize what was happening. Three years ago, weight loss would have not only seemed like the first solution, it would have seemed like the only solution. And I would have followed through on that plan.
I go back and forth on how I feel about my weight these days, mostly hovering somewhere between “I really would like to lose five pounds, but it’s not the end of the world” to “I’m never giving up sugar and those five pounds can go to hell.” I have plenty of trouble spots, moments of insecurity, and wishes for the occasional stomach flu before a big event, but mostly, I find myself in a place of being more or less at peace with my body how it is – perhaps because I’m too busy to spend much time thinking about it. Still, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think “I really need to run more” every time I see a picture of myself…but I don’t care enough to actually do it, if that makes sense. It no longer seems like the most important thing (or the only thing) on the planet. For me, that’s progress.
Thankfully, I’ve learned other coping mechanisms besides weight loss over the years that I’ve been working on recovery, but I guess “Old Faithful” is still the first one I turn to when I don’t know where else to turn. I’m just glad that I recognized what was happening before I started to take action. I firmly believe that it’s ok to want to lose weight if you’re uncomfortable with how you look. It’s not ok to lose weight because you don’t know how or refuse to learn how to deal with stressful situations. Recognizing this is a huge step in the right direction and away from unhealthy coping mechanisms. It’s only a matter of time before those thoughts go away entirely – at least, I hope!
In my most recent post for the Life with Ed series (written almost 2 years ago!) I said of complete recovery, “Maybe not today, but one day.” I am getting closer and closer to “one day.” Today, it seems possible.