"This right here, has been my breakfast for the past two weeks. Well, truthfully, it's been my breakfast and lunch. I wake up every morning convincing myself that this is enough. That this will sustain me through two meals. But let's be honest here... this is barely two choices (for those who know TGH lingo... you know what I mean). Two choices (aka 200 calories) is what I ate for breakfast during my first three days of treatment. It's been two years. How did I find myself back here? Well, I have some ideas. It didn't start out this way, but it never does. It started out by me, or should I say, my eating disorder, convincing me that I should have brunch instead of breakfast and lunch. Is that okay? I mean, sure... If you're having ENOUGH to actually call it a brunch. Then before I knew it, or really... before anyone with an eating disorder knows it, you have less and less.
"You're not doing anything in quarantine, you don't want to GAIN weight."
"At least I'm eating something."
"This is a HEALTHY breakfast. Everyone does this."
"This could be way worse".
"I'm recovered now, I don't have a problem anymore".
These are dangerous statements. These are statements that allow your eating disorder to come creeping in because you believe that you don't have a problem anymore. You believe you are invincible. Well, tough luck. You're not invincible. I'm not invincible. My eating disorder wanted me to believe that restricting would not trigger a whole load of other symptoms. My eating disorder wanted me to believe that I was recovered because it knew that the second my defences were down, the second it could come back into my life. And it did. Full force. Monday came the heavy restriction. Tuesday came the purging. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday (today), came the obsession. Obsession with my body. Obsession with the mirror. Obsession with food. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN SO QUICKLY? Like I said earlier, I have some ideas.
1. Lack of control... This world is unpredictable, especially with COVID-19. Folks with eating disorders turn to food as a means to feel in control, when their life is out of control, or at least, appears to be. Somehow, magically, stress becomes reduced and you feel better. Feeling this false sense of control is a coping mechanism.
2. I don't want to feel feelings... An eating disorder has always helped numb my emotions. Helped numb my trauma, so I wouldn't have to feel so deeply. In real life, I often distracted myself and kept myself busy in order to avoid drowning in my own thoughts and emotions. With COVID-19, we all have a lot of time to think. This can be especially dangerous for some people.
3. I miss it... "ARE YOU CRAZY?". I'm sure this is what some people will think after reading that. "I UNDERSTAND". I'm sure this is what folks in recovery will think after reading that. Did my eating disorder take everything away from me? Basically. Did my eating disorder make me hate every aspect of my life? Yes. So what could I possibly miss from it? Well, like Marya Hornbacher describes so eloquently;
"This is the pitiful stage where you do not qualify as an eating disordered
person. And you feel bad about this. You feel like you ought to still merit
worry, still have the power to summon a flurry of nurses, their disdain
It is incredibly invalidating to live in the brain of an eating disordered person, but to not live in the body of one. So... what now? Continue with restricting, purging, overexercising, and obsession in which ultimately leads to death? Or, get back on track. Well, we all know the latter is the "right decision". It is also the "harder decision". The decision that takes the most courage and strength. The decision that says a big fuck you to ED. The one that shows ED they are no longer welcome. I am lucky to be in a place of recovery where I can catch myself slipping and think critically about self-destruction, before committing to it. That doesn't make my decision any more easier, trust me. But what choice do I have? If I do not pick recovery then I am picking starvation, obsession, pain, regret, shame, heart break, isolation, and death. I refuse to pick that. I refuse to go back.
"If this illness feels right now like a cage, please try to hear me: it isn't locked. It has been open all along. You are free to go." - Hornbacher.