Topic Tuesday: Recovery
“Will Recovery Ever Get Easier?” (By: Emily Murray)
Recovering from an eating disorder is one of the most difficult things in the world.
If you have lived with an eating disorder (or even disordered eating patterns), your body has been through trauma-physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually.
As most of you know, there is so much more to recovery than food, body image, and a scale.
Although eating disorders are first and foremost psychological disorders, eating disorders are very hard on the body, whether you struggle with anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, or otherwise specified feeding & eating disorder (OSFED).
Some of you, like me, have become physically ill because of your eating disorder, plagued by amenorrhea, an assortment of GI related issues, metabolic shifts, insomnia, weakened hunger and fullness cues, weight fluctuations, quick fatigue, compromised immunity, anxiety attacks, and an overall decrease in your quality of life.
Others experience fainting, refeeding syndrome, tooth decay, osteoporosis, dehydration, infertility, electrolyte imbalances, high blood pressure, peptic ulcers, pancreatitis, kidney failure, and even death.
Even still, there are those who don’t seem to have any physical consequences…yet. Don’t be mistaken, if you follow disordered eating patterns for a period of time your body will start to send you physiological signals indicating that something is wrong.
The only form of medicine that can help us escape this form of bondage is food. In recovery, food is your medicine, whether that be a grilled turkey burger or a slice of chocolate cake. Consistent, adequate nourishment is the only way to correct some of the things I talked about above.
If only it was as simple as “just eat.”
Many of you probably experience early satiety (premature fullness) because your bodies aren’t used to having a normal amount of food in them at one time. You are forced to eat when you aren’t hungry, or at least you think you’re aren’t. Not to be gross, but constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and indigestion are all very real parts of getting back on a consistent food schedule. What makes it all worse is that there is no timeline as to how long it will take to actually feel better again. If you regularly restriction, binging, & purging tendencies, it will take even longer. Psychologically, many people who develop an eating disorder also struggle with a body image component, whether or not that was present when the disordered eating patterns first began. Body dysmorphia, the scale, fear of gaining weight, & societal pressures and emphasis on appearance can also be big barriers.
If all of this weren’t enough to make you quit, you also have to start dealing with the root of it all: the psychological and emotional issues that have been pushed aside and suppressed by your eating disorder. The physical trauma that your body has been through didn’t happen overnight; likewise, the psychological, emotional, and spiritual trauma also won’t heal overnight.
Learning how to acknowledge, observe (without judgement), interpret, and coop with unwanted emotions or feelings is a very difficult thing to do. Therapy is exhausting and pricey (as is every aspect of recovery), but the psychological and emotional healing is what will keep you practicing good recovery for a lifetime; food alone isn’t enough.
Coming from someone who has walked through it all: It will feel worse before it feels better, but it does get easier, it does get better, & if you stick with it, you will recover.
It’s painful…oh so painful, but it’s worth it. A part of the recovery process is learning to let go of control and trusting your friends, family, and recovery team to lean on during this really difficult process.
Every bite, meal, & every moment you choose to practice good recovery is a step towards an easier tomorrow.
It’s becomes easier to eat (both physically and emotionally).
Your body will start to rejoice with every ounce of food that is used to restore your body and bring it back to life.
You will be able to eat a “normal” amount of food again.
Your metabolism and abnormal lab values will start moving back into place.
Your weight will stabilize and stay in the range that God designed for it to be.
You will be able to go out to eat with friends without looking up the menu beforehand and calculating your calorie intake for the day.
You will be able to say “yes” to the ice-cream served at a family gathering and “no” to the small voice that encourages you to binge on it after a long day.
You will survive.
You will be restored.
You will be recovered.
Free from bondage.
Free to live.
Keep fighting friends, coming from someone who has
won many battles with ED, it’s worth it.
About the Author
Emily Murray is currently a Nutrition and Dietetics student at Tennessee Technological University. She is a lover of Jesus, who believes her purpose in life is to love God and love people. She enjoys spending time with her friends and family, writing, hiking, learning, and playing with her dog Maddie. Upon graduation, she hopes to attain a dietetic internship in order to fulfill her goal of becoming a Registered Dietician. Her goal is to learn how to best take care of herself so that in the future she can help others find peace and healing in their relationship with food. She hopes that sharing her story will inspire others on their own journey, and encourage them not to give up.