Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

100% “real” recovery

the full-length mirror I used to avoid like the plague

A discussion was taking place on a facebook page about whether or not “real”, 100% recovery from an eating disorder is possible.

The old belief, professionally, was that no,  you could never recover.  The eating disorder would always be there, and, hopefully, you would manage it.

Guess what?  That’s not the belief anymore.  I am recovered.  Fully recovered.  I have friends who have recovered.  Fully recovered.  No obsession with food, no fears of food, no more letting the number on the scale dictate how you feel and what you eat and how you act.  Most of my friends who used to have eating disorders don’t own scales.  And don’t miss them.

I will confess I own a scale and that I keep a record of my weights.  I also keep a record of my blood pressure, my pulse, any dizzy spells, and any tachycardia spells.  I email these to my cardiologist once a month, more often if the tachycardia is prominent, because I have a genetic degenerative heart condition.  My weight is one of the ways my cardiologist can see how my heart is functioning.

But I no longer weight myself in the same exact outfit every day.  Or at the same exact time.  And regardless of the number, I don’t change what I’m going to eat that day.  It gets written down in my daily log and then I put it away.

Why do I have “real” in quotation marks? Because I also have friends who are at a stage in recovery where they are functioning at 100% but do have to make sure they are eating enough or some days they are tempted to not eat as much or they don’t own a scale because it would become another obsession or they still have fear foods.

Is their recovery any less real than mine?  Absolutely not.  They have moved beyond managing symptoms but aren’t quite at the “free completely” stage.  There’s really no linguistic term for it.  They are living full lives.  And they will say that all that effort, all that work, to get to a point where everything is managed and they can live a full life again was totally worth it.

I used to not have a mirror in my apartment.  Now I do.  And I no longer want to tear it from the wall when I stand in front of it.  I wear clothes that fit me and not someone twice my size.  I dress up, something I never used to do because then people might look at me.  I’ll go out to eat now, and choose my meal based on what I want not on what has the fewest calories.  I put creamer in my coffee.  I wear makeup.  I do my hair in snazzy ways sometimes.  I look people in the eye when I talk to them.

These are just some of the things that are different.  The biggest thing that is different is that I feel free. No longer does the eating disorder decide what I eat, drink and what I do to exercise.  Those things are decided by me, and each day is different because I feel different each day.  If I’m exhausted and have spiked a fever (from my heart condition) I don’t go for a walk. When I had the eating disorder, I still would have walked, as if I didn’t have a fever.  I allow myself to be human now.  And being human is so much better than trying to be this perfect machine.  And being human can be fun, another thing that I never really experienced while I was anorexic.  Oh, I smiled for people to make them think I was fine, but I was too obsessed with food and drink and exercise to really be anything other than faking it.

Recovery is a hell of a lot of hard work.  But yes, it is possible.  And yes, it is worth it.

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April 10, 2011 Posted by | Eating Disorders, identity, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments