One year ago today I made one very good choice. I made the decision to give my all in Recovery for the first time ever. A very smart man told me to mark the date in my calendar, because I am stubborn and would be less likely to give up if I could look at that number when it felt hard.
A lot of people don’t really understand eating disorders. Just eat. So simple. I wish. I wish I knew what was wrong with my brain that makes just eating so freaking hard. I wish I knew what was wrong with my brain that causes my, more than distorted, body image. I wish I knew what was wrong with my brain that made me this way, because trust me I would have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to have fixed it by now.
When I was using drugs it was really easy for me to just stop, because I did not like the consequences of using drugs. They sucked. Nothing good came out of me smoking crack. But I liked the consequences of my eating disorder, I liked to look sick and I liked the false confidence and feeling of self control. I liked feeling like I had more time to do everything else, if I spent less time eating.
When I say I have been “in recovery” for a year a lot of people get confused, because I’ve been vocal about eating disorders for way longer than that and I also went to treatment last in like 2014/2015.
It’s not that I wasn’t trying to get better since then, but I definitely wasn’t trying my hardest and I definitely didn’t do most of what I knew I should do. I would go a month or two doing “okay” only to decide this wasn’t worth it and revert back to old behaviors. And it was tiring.
I thought I had so much self control, living in pseudo recovery. Because weighing myself multiple times per day and eating five saltines for dinner is self control, right?
I could be just sick enough to not tip anyone off (so I thought) to warrant residential treatment, but not well enough to live any sort of life. But that isn’t what this post is about, this is about this past year.
This year has been, without a doubt, hard. I have had to check myself multiple times. Am I running because I want to or because I feel like I need to “burn something off.” Am I eating this because I want to or am I picking a safe option.
I have thought about going on diets. I have cried in frustration when people wouldn’t shut the fuck up about their diets. I have had to actually feel things.
I’ve had to be honest about how I’m feeling and use words instead of my eating disorder. I have cried a lot about not liking my body. Some days I wake up and literally the only thing I can say to myself is yikes, you let yourself go. Which is insane, I know, but welcome to my brain.
I know I couldn’t have done this without the support I had from people that love them. I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t have a friend I could text crazy shit to without judgement at literally any time of day or night. I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t have a boyfriend that told me that he couldn’t invite my chaos into this life and he wouldn’t watch me relapse.
I think the past few months have been the hardest. Besides the quarantine, I’ve had to deal with a lot of unresolved emotions being brought back up, trying to deal with trauma in therapy, working like 50/60 hours per week on top of being a grad student, and the lingering thought of “after one year you can give up.”
I still have bad moments. Sometimes I am reminded that my brain is sick, when my brain starts adding up calories, when I see my weight at a doctors office and begin to go down a rabbit hole, when I have a moment of panic when I don’t have time to run. Sometimes it is quiet and sometimes it is loud. I do my best to ignore it.
If I’m being honest the one thing that made this year different was that I didn’t act on any behaviors and did my best to make positive changes. It wasn’t like magical, it was just hard. I did not suddenly feel so body positive and amazing and fully recovered and wonderful. I felt uncomfortable, I have learned about body neutral and attempt to accept where I am at.
So anyway. I have been wishing to magically get this far for like six years. I have been hoping to one day wake up and be better. And after one year I recognize that, that’s not how it works. It takes time and resilience and work. And so that’s what I’ve been trying my hardest to do. For 365 days. I don’t want a medal or anything, but I want anyone that is struggling to know if I can do this, you can.