Recovery From Eating Disorders Is Possible — At Any Age
As a 45-year-old woman struggling to recover from anorexia, I often wonder if this is going to be part of my life forever. Will I be like the 76-year-old client of my psychiatrist, hands gripping her walker as she gingerly takes each step forward up to the front window, looking as if a slight wind would blow her over and the common flu would kill her? I try hard to believe she is not my future, and I want to stress that she doesn't have to be your future. Recovery from eating disorders is possible at any age.
Eating Disorders Recovery: It's Easy to Get Derailed
The long road of recovery from eating disorders is not the post I had originally planned to write this week. I was going to rage against People magazine for its exploitative article about actress Portia de Rossi's struggles with anorexia and bulimia splashed on this week's front page. I found the article very triggering, and in fact began to struggle with my body image and started restricting after seeing the pictures of an emaciated de Rossi. I felt an almost physical ache to dive back into anorexia, even though I should know better.
Then I received this comment on my first post introducing me as a new HealthyPlace blogger:
I have had anorexia since age 14. I am now 56. I am also in relapse, which I have been since leaving treatment after five months. I am at the point where I no longer believe that recovery is possible. I have finally found a job, but it is only part time, and I now realize how much the eating disorder has stolen from my life.
Any feedback you wish to give would be welcome. I thank you for your honesty and courage in sharing your story.
My Anorexia Nervosa Story
I was very moved by Cindy's comments. I have had anorexia nervosa since I was 41. I can't even imagine losing one's entire adolescence to this destructive disease.
No other illness or life event has impacted me as having anorexia. This disease has tried to take almost everything away from me, including my ability to write and think and care about the world around me. It almost destroyed my marriage, and my husband and I did briefly separate this fall because he felt that was the only thing that would motivate me to try and recover.
That was because I also was at the point that I believed recovery from anorexia was not possible. I had decided I was going to live out the rest of my life as an anorexic. I decided I was going to give up everything else, including my marriage and my dream of being a writer.
But I didn't give up, and neither should you. I truly believe that eating disorders recovery is possible at any age. It will be a long road, one each of us travels in fits and spurts until we finally become healthy and free of our eating disorders.
Gambrel, A. (2010, November 13). Recovery From Eating Disorders Is Possible — At Any Age, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, September 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivinged/2010/11/recovery-from-eating-disorders-is-possible-at-any-age
Author: Angela E. Gambrel
I have also had an eating disorder since a young age. I am 48 years old. My first memory of restricting was when I was 5 years old and an aunt told me I should work on sucking my stomach in. I was hospitalized at 13 years old, just told to eat, as back then, anorexia wasn't a hot topic. I had a major relapse in my early 40's, with multiple hospitalizations. I still visit my therapist regularly. I still have periods of restricting. When I see an article or TV show on eating disorders, it is very triggering. I do long for that control I once had... however, my life is better at a healthy weight. My relationships are more substantial and fulfilling.
I must remind myself that recovery isn't concrete. Recovery is a process. Some days are easier than others. Thin people aren't living better lives because their scale reveals a lower number than my scale. I remind myself that when I was at my thinnest and hospitalized, I was not in control of my life. Other people were making decisions for me. I was unable to work. My children were worried about my health and being alive to make them school lunches. I continue to focus on health and fitness, my children and new husband who love me for who I am, and not how much I weigh.
Angela, I went through a similar thing. My anorexia started from a medical illness when I was 29. I lost about 20 pounds and my fiance at the time commented on how good I looked. Something must have kicked in because I kept losing weight. He left me a year later and I spiraled downward until I was hospitalized almost 2 years later. My parents put me in a treatment center for 3 months and I spent another 6 months in intensive outpatient therapy.
I can say that I am a lot better, but I still have to fight the good fight at times. I can see that it's easy to get dragged back in. After all, doing nothing about your thoughts and feelings is a lot less effort than battling them.
Great blog, Angela. Welcome to HealthyPlace!