Twelve years ago I’d just finished my first stint in hospital treatment for Anorexia Nervosa. I was all eager to be a model of solid recovery. No relapse for me. I’m a smart and sensible person, I was determined to get well and to conquer this silly eating disorder thing. I didn’t know what I was up against. And I didn’t know how deep my troubles ran.
It was about four months that I spent in treatment that first time. For four weeks I was inpatient and then the rest in the day program, going at first five then three days a week. I put on about 8 kilos which felt awkward but okay. I think mostly I was pleased to be at a healthy weight. I was eating to the meal plan, which really seemed quite foreign, but I intended to continue with it. That’s called doing “Recovery” and I was going to succeed. I don’t fail at things.
But I really didn’t know what I was up against. Anorexia wasn’t my problem. It was a symptom. And I didn’t know at that point how deep my troubles ran, but I had to wade through fears and insecurities, hurts and griefs and I had to find my own right to exist and be well cared for, the same as anyone else. And that all really took some doing.
Twelve years ago, I wish I knew that it was okay to take time on this healing journey, that recovery isn’t a race we run to impress others.
I wish I knew years ago that anorexia causes real biochemical changes in the body that make recovery an immense battle. It’s really much like an addiction and so there’s a miserable withdrawal effect when you start refeeding and a strong pull back into the behaviours since they give a real high and have a real numbing, calming effect.
There are other biochemical processes going on that can create a lack of appetite which makes it harder to eat, or at other times a big increase in appetite which can feel scary. All sorts of hormones get disrupted in anorexia like serotonin, dopamine, leptin, cortisol, and more. No wonder we don’t feel like ourselves. It’s all a part of what makes recovery feel like an awful rollercoaster ride. If you want to read some good articles on that start with: this article at the Science of EDs Blog.
From under-eating you get depleted in all sorts of nutrients so then fatigue will kick in, or anxiety like out of nowhere, but it’s meal time and you really don’t feel like you can face it. Food can seem like a dreadful threat or like your worst enemy, a foreboding presence, but you’re supposed to eat it, because that’s what recovery is.
When I learnt these kinds of things, I was able to relax and stop blaming myself for why I was finding it so hard.
I was able to take a step back from it all, reassess, pray and form a strategy.
Above all, I want you to know that there is a way out of Anorexia. The very best thing that you can do is take a moment now to pray and ask Jesus to shed a little light onto the path ahead of you. He is the light of the world after all. Then we take the next step, trusting that the rest of the path, even though we can’t see it, leads to freedom.
With my love and blessings,
PS ~live.it.love.it~ give Jesus a fresh try today. He loves you so much.