Recovery isn’t always laughing as you pose for a photo with a cake, triumphantly tackling a fear food. Sometimes, recovery just plain sucks.
Recovery is a sluggish as hell digestive system which leaves you in pain and makes eating the last thing that you want to do. It’s waking up in the night covered in sweat as your metabolism speeds up. It’s sleeping for 10 hours, and then napping multiple times during the day as your body makes repairs (fantastic, but massively inconvenient in your final year of university). It’s the constant bloating and feeling like a whale. It’s learning how to deal with menstruation again, because you haven’t had one in so long, you forgot quite how awful your PMS and cramps are. It’s having to give up physical activity that you love for a period of time, because it’s harmful for your body and mind. It’s feeling mentally exhausted (in my case) because you have to hold yourself entirely accountable for eating food, and enough of it. Taking care of yourself is exhausting. Sometimes, I wish that inpatient were a possibility for me.
Recovery is the overwhelming anxiety that you have to overcome when trying out new foods, new restaurants, new portion sizes. It’s all of the conflicting information that you come across online. It’s feeling as though you’re moving from one food obsession to another: how to avoid food to how to ensure you’re eating enough in order to ensure weight restoration. It’s eating when you’re not hungry because your hunger cues are still messed up, and you need to start bringing structure back into your life. It’s eating everything in sight and still wanting more when extreme hunger hits.
Recovery is feeling like you’re too much for your loved ones. Sometimes you fear that your entire identity is your recovery, and that’s something that they don’t want to deal with. It’s becoming paranoid about your health as a result of the damage you’ve inflicted on your body: what does that chest pain mean? Have I completely ruined my bones and joints? Will my body ever recover from the damage that I’ve done?
Recovery is having to deal with your eating disorder tell you that you’re not sick enough for recovery. You’re not sick enough to be eating this much. Oh my god, why are you eating that chocolate bar? You’re not sick enough to deserve that. You’re not sick enough, even though your body’s physical reactions to consuming enough food for recovery prove the exact opposite of what anorexia’s voice tells you. You’re not sick enough. It’s the fear that you’re going to have to live with this gremlin in your head for the rest of your life.
Recovery is sometimes feeling angry with yourself for what you’ve done. It’s mourning the experiences that you lost, the friendships that you damaged. It’s wishing that you could go back and stop it in its tracks so that you wouldn’t have to go through this process. It’s having to face your emotions again now that you no longer have the crutch of starving and exercise to hide them. It’s having to learn new, healthy coping mechanisms, and that shit is hard.
Recovery is cringing every time your friend makes a comment about how much they ‘need’ to lose weight, how x food is bad, how they’ve gone on a run this morning. It’s that sinking feeling you get when they say this because you have to keep eating and resting. It’s knowing that you’ll never be able to fully avoid diet culture, but you wish that you could block it all out for the sake of your mental health. It’s learning to become comfortable with your growing body while everyone else hates theirs.
Yes, there are magical, amazing moments in recovery. But so often, recovery plain old sucks.
- What keeps you going when recovery gets hard?
- What are your best tips for dealing with digestive issues in recovery?