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Recovering from Your Eating Disorder When You Want to Quit

February 10, 2015 Jessica Hudgens

My anorexic brain is positively screaming at me not to write the next sentence of this because it is so shameful. I have gained weight. Don’t be mistaken – I have been maintaining a healthy weight for my body for almost a year so this weight is extra, unnecessary, too much. My brain is shouting, “Fat!” at me almost 24 hours a day. Right now, more than anything, I’d love to scrap my recovery and throw myself headlong into eating disorder behaviors. But I have to focus on recovering from my eating disorder even when I want to quit.

That is, of course, an always an option, but the bigger, more rational, part of my mind knows that the eating disorder offers only more pain and suffering. So I am left with the uncomfortable task of continuing to choose my recovery from anorexia when I would really, really like to quit. This is certainly not the first time this has come up, so I have some idea what to do at this point.

There Will Be Days You Want To Quit Recovering from Your Eating Disorder

When I was early in my recovery, I came to this “I want to quit!” point quite often, and one time, having hit my breaking point at around 10:00 a.m., I texted a friend. She was, herself, in recovery and had been for a good number of years longer than I had. Her response? Take the day off. If at all possible, take the day off from work or school and treat yourself to a movie (at the theatres), then relax with a cup of tea and a bubble bath (or however you might relax at home). Recovering from anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or any other eating disorder can be exhausting, even without the extra stress of life. Give yourself a day where all you have to do is work on eating disorder recovery. It’s a bit like putting blinders on for me – when it seems impossible to do work, school, meals, snacks, friendships and whatever else, focusing just on the eating disorder recovery tasks for one day makes things seem manageable.

[caption id="attachment_3544" align="alignright" width="295"]Recovering from your eating disorder is hard and it's even harder to recovering from your eating disorder when you want to quit. Read these tips to keep going. While the sentiment is abundantly true, it may also be true that my art borders (at times) on the melodramatic.[/caption]

(Note: I am far enough in my recovery that sitting alone in my apartment with a book is generally low stress, but this was not always the case. Earlier in my eating disorder recovery, hours alone by myself was a recipe for disaster which is, no doubt, why my friend suggested I go to the movies. Be smart with how you choose to spend your day off and make sure it is done in a way that is safe and conducive to your own recovery.)

In the event that a “day off” isn’t enough to get you back in a good groove, here are some other things I do to recover from my eating disorder even when I want to quit:

  • Remind yourself of why you chose recovery in the first place. – For me, it is reasons like having energy, laughing, going on hikes with friends, and watching my friends’ children grow up and staying in school. That’s not to say I couldn’t do some of these things while engaging in my anorexia, but the reality is that life is far more enjoyable when I’m healthy. Furthermore, I have no desire to go through the early stages of recovery (such as weight gain and fighting constant urges) all over again.
  • Have coping skills ready. – Make sure you know what you have available to cope. If going to 12-step meetings works for you, write down where and when the meetings are each day. If you need something to keep your hands busy, carry around play-doh or a pack of crayons for coloring. Whatever your eating disorder recovery coping skills are, make sure they are easy to find and easily accessible. You’ll be needing them.
  • Reach out for encouragement. – Depending on how much your eating disorder recovery support system knows about your struggles, this can be as simple as, “I’m having a rough day,” to, “I really want to engage in x, y, or z behavior right now. Help!” I was lucky enough to get a text message last week from a friend who shared that I was the topic of the short essay she had to write for her Spanish class about someone who has inspired them. That certainly cheered me up enough to talk back to my eating disorder when it was whispering in my ear.
  • Tie yourself to the mast and hang on. – The urge to return to your eating disorder will dissipate eventually. In the meantime, I have this image of Odysseus in my head, who was so determined to hear the beautiful siren call but not be shipwrecked like all the rest who came before him. He had his crew tie him to the mast while they plugged their own ears with wax – they stayed the course, even when he begged them to follow the beautiful songs. What does this look like in real life? It might bes etting up dates to have meals and snacks with people and not allowing yourself to use behaviors before, during or after. Or it might be having someone text you when you should be eating and not listening to your excuses about why you “can’t.” Or it could be going to the gym with someone who will drag you out when your prescribed 20 minutes are up. Stay the course, any way you can. And if you can’t, have people around who will.

What about you? Have you ever reached an “I want to quit!” moment in your eating disorder recovery? If so, how did you keep moving forward?

Jess can also be found on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

APA Reference
Hudgens, J. (2015, February 10). Recovering from Your Eating Disorder When You Want to Quit, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivinged/2015/02/recovering-from-your-eating-disorder-when-you-want-to-quit



Author: Jessica Hudgens

BONNIE MARVIN
says:
November, 4 2018 at 9:59 am
I want to quit eating. I didn't choose recovery. God chose it 4 me and from there my caregiver controls most of my life. I was still fairly happy at 95 lbs and even 102 lbs. but now at 118.25 lbs my body looks grotesskly out of control fat. My thighs r 21.5 in'. They r so humungess and blubbery and so out of proportion w/rest of my legs. They r too close to my pregnancy size when I weighed 185 lbs. My caregiver does not allow me any $ except 4 what she approves and I must give her receipts. I have no way of getting my hands on laxatives. Everyone at my pharmacy knows me and would not hesitate to tell my CG anything I buy there. My problem was extreme laxative abuse. 30 to 40 ducolax pills, 4-5 servings of miralax, 1-2 doses colon cleanse + extra magnesium. That is a form of bulimia. I wouldn't really binge. I would chew food and spit most of it out. I would get just enuf food and plenty of supplements to have pretty normal lab tests. Anyway I don't want to go back to that But I do need extra magnesium + the 3 doses of miralax that Dr. prescribed to have normal bowel movements. I don't know why my tummy dr. won't up the dose of magnesium from 1000 mg to 4000 mg and wean me off very slowly like maybe down by 100 mg per week. With all the research I've done on extreme laxative abuse, I believe that that would help me tremendously and in a healthy way. So since that is not happening now(hopefully when I c my Dr. he will up the magnesium), and I can't be as active as I would like due to severe R.A. I just want to consume just enuf to lose at least 10 lbs. I will still be in the normal range 4 my height and body frame. Now I'm over by 4.25 lbs and look disgustingly fat. If u believe in Jesus Christ as your personal saviour and Lord, PLEASE pray 4 me. Thank u and God Bless You Big Time!!!!!!!
Again, thank u 4 this info. It really helps.
December, 23 2018 at 1:55 pm
Hi there, Bonnie. Thank you for reaching out. I am so sorry that you feel discontent in your own body, and that you are struggling to much physically. My heart goes out to you, but I can guarantee that weight loss through laxative use—or any form of purging—is not a healthy or sustainable solution for regaining your confidence. You are not "disgustingly fat," as you typed in your comment. Your body is the weight it needs to be in order to sustain your life. I am saddened to hear you sound so miserable and hopeless, but backsliding into ED behaviors will not offer the comfort you're seeking. I recommend visiting the HealthyPlace Eating Disorder resource page as a reference point for finding support and community (https://www.healthyplace.com/eating-disorders). Be courageous and dare to love yourself—I promise, you are worth it!
Susan
says:
November, 27 2015 at 10:21 am
This is so great. It really is important to emphasize that it's on the person that's struggling with the disorder on when recovery begins. Very well written piece.
Rache Angel
says:
November, 4 2015 at 6:01 pm
One of the saddest things that I've ever experienced, was sitting at a womens table at AA, and a young girl my age {both in our late twenties at the time} stopped herself in mid sentence to admit she was jealous of MY body. I have never until then or since that day cried so hard when i grabbed her by the shoulders and sobbed "Do you HAVE ANY IDEA what i do to myself to look this way???" And i looked in her eyes and pleaded with her "I am KILLING MYSELF to look this way and every night I pray to God and all the Angels to take me in my sleep to make this stop, dont you EVER be jealous if this HELL!!!"
SHe had a little post baby weight left but was still around a perfect size 7 for her age and height. It was the first time I realized how warped and dillusional and ILL my mind had become and it was taking my body with it one pound at a time.
I wish I could say it ended there, but unfortunately it took many many more years to recover, and in a way, i suppose I'll always be recovering. Other people have got to STOP determining our self worth!!! ANd what is even crazier is usually they are total strangers plastered on magazines or billboards. And as for the parent who destroyed my self esteem as a child, I'm an intelligent woman total, and I realize he was just in his own world of hurt and his sick solution was to lash out and hurt others who were most vulnerable around him.
I dont look in the mirror today and see a supermodel, i'm 40 and that is laughable, but I did do everything in my power and take every suggestion that was offered to learn to little by little raise my self esteem and LOVE myself. We are beautiful women and men who see something VERY different from reality when we look in the mirror, and this must be realized, accepted, and changed, or else i would have ruined my "Cougar" decage with my loving husband by just missing it all. DONT miss out on another day!!!
lucie
says:
July, 2 2015 at 1:07 am
Where are you now lovely? Hope you are well on the way to recovery...
Janine
says:
April, 4 2015 at 4:42 pm
Hi Jess,

I really identify with you. Just started a blog, please have a look if you feel like it. Im suffering from EDNOS and a part of it is anorexia. I believe speaking about the disease is good and taking part of other peoples views and how they get on in their recovery.I also strongly believe that recovery is always better than being in the disease. Being sick makes you unhappy and lack of energy, friendships, love. For me its about getting well no matter what and winning over the addictive brain that wants to kill you/ hurt you.
jess
says:
March, 28 2015 at 4:10 am
This article was very helpful for me. I am at two months of recovery after struggling with an eating disorder of twenty years. I was horrified at the weight gain I have been experiencing. I know that what I see and experience related to my body image is not accurate. My eating disorder self has been beckoning me back. I have had thoughts so often of how easily I could shed this weight and feel glorious in my body again ...then I remember what those feelings of thin Euphoria were accompanied with. The euphoria was always lined with self hatred, struggle and suffering. The super thin me was not my natural me. I did not accept that I could be me as I am. I felt that I must restrict my life to behavior that I felt would result in me being what I should be. WHAT I SHOULD BE. At my more healthy weight now I realize the there is nothing that I should be that I am not already. When I look in the mirror now there are curves and softness where before there were straight lines, hard little muscles, and bone. Now when I exercise and eat it doesn't take up all my time. My body is functioning better in every way. It is so wonderful to be eating with friends/family and not to make every one suffer because of my food restrictions. Still so frequently ED calls to me asking to engage. I think of giving in, how lovely it seems it could be. But then I choose recovery from ED and I will have to choose it daily, from moment to moment if I wish to remain in a place of true peace. As I continue to work through this recovery period and the challenge of accepting my genetic makeup I will use all my resources to recover. I love the idea of just tying myself to mast of recovery and sailing through and past the sirens call of ED. Thank you for this article.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

BONNIE MARVIN
says:
September, 4 2018 at 11:07 am
i AM STRUGGLING BIG TIME W/GAINING WEIGHT AND MORE INCHES THAN I SHOULD BE FOR THE WEIGHT I AM AT. I LOOK SUPER FAT AND MY CHI CHIS R AS BIG AS WHEN I WEIGHED 140 LBS. I'M 5'5" AND I WEIGH ABOUT 103 LBS. MY WAIST IS ABOUT 271/2 IN. FROM MY KNEES UP I'M MUCH BIGGER THAN I SHOULD BE 4 THIS WEIGHT. WHEN I THINK ABOUT WEIGHTING 80 TO 90 LBS AGAIN, I WISH I WAS THERE. I NEVER LOST ANY OF MY HAIR EVEN AT 61 LBS. WHEN MY WEIGHT DROPPED BELOW 70 LBS I WAS SCARED. AND AT 61LBS I WENT TO HOSPITAL. THAT IS WHEN I WAS VERY AFRAID. I KNEW I WAS PROBABLY GONNA BE DEAD THE NEXT DAY. I COULDN'T EAT FOR A WEEK. I HATED HOW THIN I LOOKED. I CRIED SO MUCH WHEN THEY TOLD ME HOW MUCH I WEIGHED. IT WAS VERY SCARY 4 ME. BUT GOD BLESSED ME W/A BIG APPETITE. I OVER USED LAXATIVES. THAT WAS MY MAIN PROBLEM. SO I WAS VERY CONSTIPATED MOST OF THE TIME ESPECIALLY IN REHAB. BUT GOD STILL BLESSED ME W/AN APPETITIE. I GAINED 34 LBS IN 17 DAYS. I FOUND OUT THAT WAS TOO FAST. I'VE SLOWED DOWN SOME SINCE I'VE BEEN HOME. BUT STILL GAINING A LITTLE TOO FAST. I'M GRATEFUL 4 PROGRESS I'VE MADE, BUT AT SAME TIME I WISH I WOLD HAVE MUCH SMALLER CHIS CHIS AND MUCH THINNER LOOKING. I'M UNABLE TO EXERCISE MUCH DO TO SEVERE RHEAUMATOID ARTHRITIS AND DUE TO AN INJURY I GOT DURING EXERCISE W/IN HOME P.T. IT HAS AFFECTED MY FRONT AND SIDE HIP JOINTS, WRISTS, HANDS, SHOULDER AND LOTS OF UPPER MUSCLES AND IT'S BEEN ABOUT 7 WEEKS SINCE THIS HAPPENED. I DON'T KNOW WHY IT IS TAKING SO LONG TO HEAL. ANY WAY I'M VERY DISCOURAGED. BUT VERY THANKFUL 4 THIS BLOG OR INFO. IT HELPS.
Maha
says:
February, 13 2015 at 11:46 pm
Eating Disorders are a growing problem especially in the Muslim world which should be resolved and it is possible If we spread awareness. For more information visit <a href="https://waragainsteatingdisorder.wordpress.com" rel="nofollow">our blog</a>.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Jessica Hudgens
says:
February, 23 2015 at 3:26 pm
Maha,

Thanks so much for your comment! I am sure there are a lot of issues that come up around the Muslim faith when it comes to recovery (as they do with most religions/spiritual practices) and I am not a Muslim, so unable to speak to any of that. I'm so glad there is a resource out there for Muslim men and women with EDs.

Jess

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