I am angry. And as far as emotions go, I hate anger. But I’m gonna share because maybe someone, somewhere, can relate.
A piece of me feels like I need to put a disclaimer here- so here it is. I am in no way trying to be a dickhead to anyone.
I am not trying to shame anyone actively working on recovery that struggles with restricting, bingeing, over exercise or other ED behaviors. I am also not trying to guilt people that are not in recovery that post triggering content. Shit I’m not even trying to be hurtful to the people in quasi recovery that claim they are better yet stand crutched up on a diet, people that live within the diet mentality, that believe controlling there weight X way is okay because at least there not doing Y or Z.
I’m not shaming anyone, I don’t want to make people feel guilty, and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I actually am so proud of anyone working hard on beating their eating disorder, or even thinking about it. But even when I feel proud and happy for you, I still go through my range of emotions on a day to day basis. And today I feel angry, because I worked really hard to get here and I don’t think it’s just some game or trendy. For me it is recover or die.
It makes me angry. And I don’t think I can possibly be the only one. I’m angry when I see influencers on social media selling a workout that cured their eating disorder or body image problems. I’m angry at people that proudly proclaim recovery but denounce cookies as “bad.” I’m angry at people that are counting the days when sometimes I’m counting the hours or minutes. I’m angry at people that call coffee breakfast. I’m angry at all these people that hide behind societies accepted disordered eating and the diet culture mentality that think they have any place in talking to me about our shared struggles because it’s not fair.
We are not struggling together when you are taking the easier softer way. You are not telling yourself it is okay that you ate a Kit Kat, reminding yourself it is just food and it has no moral values, you are not working through the emotions of your eating disorder. You are taking the easy way out. There is no Kit Kat.
And I have been there and let me tell you how it goes because I don’t know if anyone else has let you know.
In 2015-2019 I was recovered. If you asked me, I was better. I just “got over it” and everyone else should too. That is really how I felt. I went to IOP and asked my therapist to let me step down to OP or even just seeing her once a week and my nutritionist once a month, because I was literally fine. My eating disorder disappeared over night. Well, kind of, not really like at all.
I think, truly, that in my heart I thought I was better at that time, I know now that my Anorexia put on a mask and a hat and continued to stick by my side under a new identity. See, my eating disorder was a shape shifter and I was not as privy to my disease back then. I compare it a lot to people that are addicted to heroin that believe they can just smoke pot. Eventually you will return to heroin just like I did my Anorexia. But anyway I’m getting ahead of myself here, where was I?
2015-2018 my eating disorder shifted and I dedicated my time, energy, money, and sacrificed relationships in the name of health and wellness. It did not look bad at first. It looked like me running and eating oatmeal.
(Trigger warning I am going to discuss foods and this may be difficult for those in recovery please be advised)
Oatmeal and egg whites and bland chicken and the fastest mile times I have ever been able to run. I saw an influencer post about Dave’s killer bread and forget it, all other bread belonged in the trash. But I was still eating bread!!! It was not that bad because I was still eating bread. And only 98% dark chocolate squares, but just a bite! But still it was a bite!!! But I could run an easy ten miles!! People asked me what my workouts were! I didn’t want to be skinny I wanted to be fit. Then, eventually I’d crack and binge eat a giant jersey mikes sub, but I didn’t vomit so my purging did not count! I was healthy!! But god forbid I couldn’t run that day, bless anyone that spent time with me during these times, I am so sorry.
My life and identity were entangled with diet culture.
Eventually, somewhere along the way, through this three year span, I always got to a place where my health and wellness was an obsession. I tried counting macros instead of calories. I tried 80/20. I tried cutting out sugar. All to no prevail because guess what, I still hated myself and hated my body. The biggest piece of this story is 2018 to 2019.
I gave up on health and wellness and decided it was best to just deny a relapse because I looked “healthy.” (This word makes my skin crawl.) I was drinking milk of magnesia and living off of quest bars, mozzarella cheese balls, and bland chicken. If someone had donuts or offered me food, all bets were off, balls to walls, binging in front of anyone around because
I stopped caring. And guess what- I told people I was in recovery and they believed me. This was my lowest point mentally that my ED has ever taken me. I went to bed every night hoping my heart would stop. But I was too proud to ask for help because I told everyone I was fine and doing “the best I ever have!”
I remember vividly eating chic-fil-a with new friends (shout-out Sarah Wilson) and thinking in my head how much of my laxative juice and exercise would be needed to “work this off.” She asked me about being in recovery from an eating disorder and my heart sank. I felt like a fraud. This woman I barely knew was asking me about something I didn’t know anything about because I had never actually been in recovery. I wondered what people that were struggling saw. Did they ever think that if I can be in recovery and be a raw vegan they could too? I felt guilty for my lies.
I had a flashback in that moment of all the people I saw on social media that I attempted to “recover” like, and all the people I met that I was jealous of for “recovering prettier” than me. I thought about if it was all lies. I wondered if they were stuck in the diet culture quasi recovery I had been in since 2015.
I thought about the young people I shared my story with that saw my recovery and thought it was attainable. I thought about how I knew it wasn’t because I knew it wasn’t recovery. It was just a softer, nicer way to have an eating disorder.
Shortly after that conversation with that new friend was when I first actually tried to get better. It did not work the first couple of months, I’d have set backs and bad weeks. But I was honest.
I started by counting hours and sometimes still do. I did not start counting days, weeks, months. And I also did not start counting even my minutes until I was completely free of ALL behaviors, not just the ugly ones, but the socially acceptable ones too.
I guess it makes me angry because I did it and I know that it’s harmful. I guess it makes me angry because I know how much work goes into it and I’m like yo what the hell.
I guess I am saying all of this to say it makes me angry when all we do is claim recovery but we don’t claim any of the work.
We don’t claim the struggle. We don’t claim the bad days.
And I guess I’m just saying it’s really hard to ask for help when you pretend you don’t need it. When you pretend you are better but you are really crying over a slice of pizza. And if you pretend for long enough you eventually believe all your own bullshit and make up some weird pizza intolerance and will just go on living like this.
Well this is me hitting you upside the head and hoping you realize that this ain’t it.
That it can be so much more.