Recovery from an eating disorder comes with a lot of twists and turns, some more expected than others.
All along I have known the journey would entail ups and downs, challenges, more tangible things such as the dreaded weight gain, etc. but there has been one aspect I never really anticipated.
I had been unaware of how one might sometimes find themselves thinking “I miss my eating disorder. I miss being sick.”
Honestly, the first occurrences of these feelings really unsettled me. I felt ashamed because I worried it meant I was not doing well in recovery, that I was strange for desiring to return to the most miserable time in my life. Maybe it meant I was even heading towards a relapse.
Speaking to others in recovery as well as my therapist helped me see that these worries and thoughts are very common during the recovery process. My peers reminded me that I am not alone in navigating a journey that is confusing.
Despite all the self-help books in the world, this process does not come with a map, and there is no one way to recover. The path looks different for everyone.
My therapist helped me dissect the “why” behind what I was feeling. Together we worked to figure out what it was about being sick that I was longing for. We went deeper than weight or a number.
I spoke of how my eating disorder and its effects lent a sense of predictability and routine to my life. I found that speaking about it helped lessen the feelings on nostalgia because I understood the reason behind the complicated emotions.
Day to day, I woke up with one singular goal in mind- the size of my body and the amount of food I consumed.
Beyond that, I knew behaviors led to admittance to treatment. I knew what treatment was like, and so on. While treatment was never fun, it was also extraordinarily structured. That lent a sense of comfort to me. Every day was predictable and very little felt up to chance or like there might be any surprises.
Real life is not like that.
There are so many options and choices and decisions to make. From the choice of what to eat in the day to what to do, it can feel overwhelming!
Exploring these feelings with my therapist helped me understand that I don’t actually miss being sick or want to return to treatment.
Rather, factors of my current life are causing some anxiety, and my eating disorder is how I coped for many years.
Instead of using behaviors I can try and find healthier ways to gain the same feelings I ‘m longing for more constructively.
I realized that creating more structure can help lower my anxiety. Simple things like eating at the same time of day and scheduling activities can be helpful.
And, I can also remind myself that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed sometimes. I can handle feeling overwhelmed, even if my thoughts try to argue otherwise.
I have learned through these past few years working on recovery that there is no clear right or wrong way to recover.