What It Feels Like To Recover From An Eating Disorder


It feels like someone is ripping your insides out and taking away you identity.

Everything that feels natural is suddenly explained to you as wrong to do. You want to starve and crave the feeling of an empty stomach. Food is still the enemy. Every meal is a war against yourself — a war that you want so badly to win, but some days, it’s just too hard.

Your friends don’t understand why picking up a fork is so hard to do. They say just eat — if only it were that easy. You miss the things that one point in life you loved, but now recovery has become your full time job. A job you hate.

You start to gain weight, and people begin to tell you how “healthy” you look. They don’t understand that in your mind, healthy means fat. Clothes begin to get tight and you are forced to go up a size or two. Instead of being glad to make the transition from the kids section to the adult section that your peers made years and years ago, you are dismayed and embarrassed. Being a “normal” size sucks. Your weight and clothing size no longer makes you superior to everyone else. You are now an equal.

If only your mind could understand that sometimes being normal is healthy. The sad truth is starving to death isn’t nearly as original or admirable as you let yourself believe. Instead of trying on clothes that are your new size, you try on clothes that are two sizes too big. This way you don’t have to worry about something not fitting.

Looking in the mirror has become a tortuous game of which body part has become the fattest.

You are forced to find a new purpose in life. For so many years, your whole purpose was to starve. Now that starving is no longer an option, you have to figure out what you — not the eating disorder — are passionate about. You are reluctant to do this because the true thing you want in life is to never eat another piece of food yet be happy. This you are told is impossible although you are still unsure whether you believe that or not.

You slip up, skip a meal, skip two meals, then three, then several days, but are expected to get back up and start eating again. Your biggest fear is to slip back into the welcoming arms of anorexia. The problem is your other biggest fear is to live a life full of eating meals. You want to be thin. You wish slipping back was a long term option; unfortunately with every day you succeed at eating three balanced meals a day, you know that you are capable of successfully meeting you meal plan. Suddenly, you feel like more of a failure everyday you fail to meet it.

Despite trying to recover when people ask were you see yourself in ten years, the only answer you can come up with is dead. Life is so excruciating when you have to eat, that whole death thing doesn’t really faze you. The thought of dying never even crossed your mind before recovery. It’s not that you’re suicidal or that you have any interest in killing yourself. It’s just that you want to starve, and now that you know and have experienced the damage starving does to your body, you realize the ultimate result of not eating will be death — and that’s okay as long as you die thin.

Every night before you go to bed you write down three reasons you want to recover. The hope is this will give you the motivation to keep fighting. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s worth doing for the days it does. No matter how many times you slip up or how many days you just want to give up, deep down you know that you won’t because you are a fighter. You fight for the one or two good days a week you now have that you didn’t before. You fight for the amazing person you know is waiting to shine through. And on the days you can’t fight for yourself you fight for those who love and support you. Ultimately you fight because you know you can win.

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