Being in recovery doesn’t mean you never have really bad days.
Being weight restored doesn’t mean your mind is healed.
The past few days, I have wanted to choose my eating disorder over everything. It started with a change of plans one day that didn’t allow me to go to yoga. Although I’m no longer a compulsive over-exerciser, I still struggle with the lie that I HAVE to exercise to be “allowed” to eat. For me, exercise is a security blanket for eating. Going out with friends for dinner? Having a glass of wine? Eating ice cream? Totally cool- as long as I’ve been to a power hot yoga class or taken my dog on a long walk. I’ve functioned this way for so long, and it is a hard habit to break.
My therapist said it best a few months back: “Just because you body isn’t anorexic anymore doesn’t mean your mind isn’t.” So true. Despite the weight gained, the fear foods challenged, and the food rules broken; my brain is still somewhat sick. I look fine on the outside, but it does not always match what is going on inside. My mind can be the worst enemy I have ever known. The past few days I’ve been consumed with anxiety about my body, food, exercise, etc. Thoughts to restrict, lie to my support people and treatment team, and sneak in extra exercise have been strong.
“Today I want to choose anorexia,” I told my husband in a text the other day. “Today that seems like it will feel better. I know that’s not true.”
Yes, my brain is still somewhat sick. But, it is also healthy too, for the first time in a long time. I know what choosing anorexia means. It doesn’t just mean losing weight, numbing grief, and fitting into smaller clothes. Relapse means losing what matters to me; a list that I could go on and on about. I don’t want to be sick. I think a turning point in recovery is deciding you want to be well more than you want to be sick. Being sick, honestly, it’s more comfortable. It feels like shit but dang is it familiar. Being sick is miserable, and I used to live in fear that I would NEVER ever get better. It was terrifying. My first morning in day treatment, the therapist made us journal. “I would rather die than live the rest of my life with an eating disorder,” I wrote.
So the really bad days- I’ll take them. I’ll take them over threats of residential treatment and crying over meals and almost passing out in yoga and drinking freaking Boost three times a day. In the moment, it is easy to forget that the bad days are better than what being trapped in my eating disorder feels like.
I have to constantly remind myself that although there are bad days, there are also good days. And the good days are so so worth it. Being healthy is hard, but it is also amazing. It means my relationships are genuine. It means my body is strong enough to attend yoga teacher training. It means I can love and support my husband fully. It means traveling and being present and living life in COLOR. Being healthy means much more than being sick ever did.
When you want to choose your eating disorder, give yourself some grace. It happens. Maybe some days you make the wrong choice. But you KEEP choosing life and choosing health. And believe that one day, it won’t be a choice any more. Healthy will be the normal.