I went on sick leave in February 2009. I spent almost three months at home, eating more than triple the number of calories I was used to in order to gain weight recover from anorexia nervosa. I hated every minute of it, but in the end I reached my healthy weight and experienced a taste of recovery for about six months until I relapsed.
I have again – for the fourth time, I think — started the anorexia recovery process of eating and gaining weight. I have been at it less than two weeks, and I still hate it. Sometimes it feels it would be easier to give up and dive right back into the eating disorder. But I believe the only way to recover from an eating disorder is going through the process.
The only way out is through. For me, that means eating and dealing with the subsequent physical and psychological changes that occur throughout my body and mind. I become bloated and emotional each time I start giving my body the nutrients that I have deprived it of through anorexic behaviors. I cry at anything.
The Beginning Stages of Eating Disorders Recovery Can Be the Toughest
The weight gain also bothers me for several reasons. I can’t stand feeling of full, and right now I feel that way most of the time. I must eat almost continuously during the day to gain any weight. As a severe restrictor anorexic, my metabolism is so shot that I constantly plateau and have to keep adding calories to reach my healthy goal weight. Sometimes I become afraid I am eating too much and have to do a reality check with my doctor to assure myself I am eating in a healthy way.
I also became used to a very thin body and any weight gain immediately becomes a trigger. I try to tell myself that this is my goal — to reach a healthy weight. I am assured that once I do reach my healthy weight, the eating disorder symptoms and urges will start to subside and then go away. The thought of not being hounded 24/7 by thoughts of restricting and losing weight. . . It is indescribable to think I could be that free again!
Helping Yourself in Eating Disorders Recovery
For me, the hardest part is working through the emotions I experience while in the early stages of eating disorders recovery. I think that is common no matter which eating disorder you are trying to recover from. However, there are many things you can do to work through and stick with the process. These are a few things I’ve learned from my doctor, books I’ve read, and experience:
- First, acknowledge the feelings and work through them. Your voice has been silenced too long by your eating disorder. Now you can honor what you are feeling instead of suppressing it with eating disorder symptoms.
- Do something you enjoy doing to take your mind off of the uncomfortableness of the early stages of recovery. Reading, taking a leisurely walk, talking to friends, watching a good movie, and writing are just some of the things I do.
- Know that if you can get through the early stages of recovery, you are that much closer to being free of your eating disorder.
- Remember the freedom you will gain once you are fully recovered! Allow yourself to dream about life without your eating disorder. What will you do with your life once you are free? I dream of traveling to Ireland, and plan to get there one day. Dare to dream as wildly as you can!
- Finally, think about how life will be once you fully return to your true self. You will be you — unique and wonderful. There is no one else on earth like you!