I guess today’s post is to help me think through the concept of recovery from atypical anorexia although it can probably be applied to many other situations, not just eating disorders.
The thing is…. my current situation isn’t really about the food. Sure, the thought of food, how to avoid it, how I’m going to knock off another pound consumes almost every waking moment but things like eating disorders, alcoholism, self-harm and OCD are just the outward behavioural signs of inner turmoil.
As I’ve eluded before, I ‘get’ the logic about my situation as it links to being a carer. Focusing intently on my weight loss takes up a lot of mental space and helps me avoid focusing on the harder things. So, it serves a purpose. What I’m going to do is to look at the pros and cons of recovery. Even as I write that, I’m thinking “Erika, why wouldn’t you want to recover?!!!!” but let’s see how I get on with these lists.
The pros of recovery
- I can become physically healthy again. I hope this is possible as I know that my organs are starting to be affected but I could possibly prevent them from at least deteriorating further
- I can reclaim the mental space this is taking up
- I can then refocus on adopting healthy eating patterns and fully embrace how I’ve lost over 160 lbs
- I can stop panicking at the thought of meeting up with friends over meals as I love being with people!
- I can take on the physical demands of things I’ve been looking forward to (which I don’t feel I can right now) like abseiling, adrenalin-filled rib boat experiences, etc.
- I can get on with the therapeutic work that I’m mentally partly trying to avoid
The cons of recovery
- It’s scary! If I don’t have this intent focus on all things food-related, I’m more likely to think about the painful stuff
- I’m worried about increasing my calories in case I then can’t stop eating
- If I can’t stop eating, I could put on all the weight
- I don’t know how to recover
So, let’s challenge those cons:
It’s scary! If I don’t have this intent focus on all things food-related, I’m more likely to think about the painful stuff
Yes, it is scary and that’s understandable Erika. Thing is that those feelings about being a carer need to be processed and masking them isn’t going to make them go away. Talking about this stuff might be really hard but you’ve an amazing psychotherapist in place who you know you can tell anything to. Just think back to what it’s like when your mind feels free and you don’t feel trapped. You can do it, girl!
I’m worried about increasing my calories in case I then can’t stop eating
Isn’t that understandable?! You’ve lost all this weight, you’ve got a new body (including the excess skin but, meh, a small niggle). But you’ve also been doing the Noom program for 4 months and actually, despite the anorexia, you’ve been learning lots about healthy eating even if you’ve not been able to put it into practice. You’ve actually got a mental tool kit of strategies to now use. Yes, when you recovered from atypical anorexia 10 years ago, you did then put on a lot of weight but this time feels different. Apart from the carer issues, you’re in a good space overall.
If I can’t stop eating, I could put on all the weight
Check out what you wrote above, Erika. You can choose a healthy range to stay between which allows for normal fluctuations. You’ve already set this up as your body weight is 2 lbs away from being in the healthy range but you’d like to lose another 9 lbs overall so that you have some wriggle room.
I don’t know how to recover
And you don’t have to know. ‘Just eat more’ might sound SO simple but you don’t have to do this alone. You know that things have been escalated by your therapist and GP because of their concerns over physical risk so you need to pass over the control. You can’t do this any more. Keep an open mind. Listen to the eating disorder service people who have their area of expertise and work ‘with’ them. Don’t see support as something being done ‘to’ you but work with them like you’ve done with other professionals in the past. They’re just part of Team Erika and will want you to rediscover your true self.
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Gosh, that felt quite intense to write but I hope the above helps at least one person reading this, whatever their situation. In fact, the structure of pros, cons and how to challenge cons is perhaps a format for a range of ‘What shall I do?’ situations. I’m going to record myself reading the above in the next couple of days and then play it back… because I’ll then be able to hear an external voice talking to me which can feel very different to the inner one. Well, let’s see how that goes.
I’ll be back on Friday or Saturday but, until then, take care
Love Erika xx