Going Back to Therapy for My Eating Disorder
At work there is nothing more frustrating to me than when I have to re-do something. That means sometimes I have problems delegating tasks to other people, and it definitely means if Microsoft Word crashes unexpectedly and I loose my content I am crabby the rest of the day… maybe even the rest of the week.
Right now I’m feeling frustrated because I have gone back to therapy for my eating disorder again. Sure, I feel relief, because hearing someone else say, “I think you need help” makes getting help a little easier, or at least it does in my case. However, I also feel a strong sense of frustration in that I’ve gone through therapy multiple times over the last couple of years and I have to go back yet again.
I take a lot of pride in having cultivated a good life. I have an amazing partner in Adam who is the smartest person I know, I have a job that I think I’m really good at, I make enough money to afford not only the things I need but also most of the things I want, I have a body that allows me to run distances that most people will never even attempt to run… there’s really not a lot for me to complain about.
Most importantly, I believe I have achieved most of this by being a person who works hard. There’s no doubt that I got a boost in life from having a pretty privileged upbringing. My family isn’t mega rich, both of my parents worked when I was growing up, but I went to private school the majority of my life and I always knew I would go to college and grad school.
That being said, I worked a full time (paid) internship my junior and senior year of undergrad and I worked multiple jobs during grad school; I worked my full-time job as a marketing manager, I taught a section of Public Speaking to undergraduates and I freelanced to get additional work experience.
All of this has allowed me to get to a pretty comfortable place in life before the age of 30. I’m not saying any of this to brag, I’m telling you because through hard work I’ve almost always achieved the result I want – this is especially true when it comes to the big things.
The one thing I’ve yet to get a handle on, despite being a fairly smart person with a good work ethic, is my eating disorder. I’m a million percent better than I was a few years ago, but I’ve still got a ways to go. My behavior is still impacting the lives of people around me and I have to try to fix that.
A question that recently popped up into my mind is, “how do you know someone is struggling with a mental disorder?” You don’t.
It’s not like a physical disorder where a bruise, a broken bone or a cough will be an outside indicator. A mental disorder can manifest itself in ways that you can see – someone talking to themselves, cutting themselves, etc. but sometimes people suffering from mental disorders seem pretty normal.
I think I seem pretty normal. I bet most people have no idea that I’ve had an eating disorder or might still struggle with some of those demons. I’m fully functioning in my day-to-day life, I have goals and dreams (aka I’m not depressed) and I’m not obsessed with calories in/calories out.
I would say I’m recovered from all of the major negative attributes that make up an eating disorder.
Now I’m struggling with the big picture: I know I need to loose weight but I can’t do it. I’m scared of “watching what I eat” because that was such a HUGE part of what made me sick. It’s something I so closely associate with the worst days in my life and I never want to go down that rabbit hole again.
Theoretically I know how to lose weight. In practice I can’t do it because I’m terrified that as soon as I start watching what I eat I’m going to get obsessed again. That fear has led me to just sit in this state of purgatory, but now I’ve received the push and the professional help I need to help me move on.
Many of the people who read here know my eating disorder history – starvation, bulimia and then binging without purging. This awful cycle led me from my lowest weight all the way up to my highest weight. When I first went through recovery I dropped a bit of weight just because I was no longer binging. Since then I’ve basically maintained the same weight, give or take 10lbs here or there depending on how much running I’m doing.
At the beginning of my recovery, eating whatever I wanted was a good thing. It meant I wasn’t counting calories or wondering how I was going to get rid of them. By this point though, I should be beyond that and moved on to getting down to a healthy weight. That’s the struggle for me now, and it has been for a while.
I thought I could get over the hump myself. I’m used to relying on myself and through hard work getting the result I want, but that’s not working for me now.
This admission is really hard for me to share because I feel like I’ve failed myself. Adam has reminded me that there is no shame in asking for help, but you know what, the truth is that there is SO much shame associated with having had an eating disorder that makes asking for help feel like a shameful act.
Most of the time I would just like to pretend that I never had an eating disorder and I don’t even know what one is.
You know what is the top thing that has helped me feel less ashamed? Connecting with other people who have struggled with eating disorders too. I don’t know anyone in my real life who has been through what I’ve been through. That can make me feel alone, like I’m the only person in the world who can’t cope with the very basic act of eating well.
Through blogging I’ve connected with some really strong, amazing women who have also had an eating disorder. Seeing them come out of the other end of recovery happy and healthy makes me feel so much less alone in my journey. I hardly look down on them or see their struggles as failures, which means I shouldn’t count my own struggles as failures either.
I also feel a strong sense of obligation in writing about my recovery every so often because I hope that it will help someone else reading this. I’ve received several emails over time from women sharing their stories with me and those emails mean a lot to me. If sharing my story can help someone else feel less alone in their recovery, then it’s worth doing. I know that’s true because when other bloggers write about their recovery it does the same for me.
And finally, I think open discussion about mental disorders is important because they are so often trivialized.
Eating disorders in particular are not very well understood by the public. Honestly, one of the main reasons that I don’t like talking about my disorder openly off the blog is because I feel like people will judge me.
When I say “eating disorder” I feel like 8 out of 10 people automatically think of anorexia. When it comes to eating disorders that lead to weight gain, the tendency of the general public is to think the person has no self control, is lazy or doesn’t care. It’s also impossible for most people to comprehend that one person can go from one end of the spectrum to the other like I have, and my story certainly isn’t unique. I’ve been both underweight and overweight, one time I was both all in the same year.
I’m writing this post today because I think it has the potential to impact someone else at some point in time. Maybe not today, but maybe someday. Maybe it encourages someone with an eating disorder to ask for help or maybe it encourages a friend or family member to broach a difficult subject with someone struggling.
Thanks for reading and thank you for your support over the years! I mean that in the most sincerest way.
PS: If you are currently struggling with an eating disorder, I encourage you to reach out for help. I am always happy to answer emails about recovery, but I cannot talk about your daily struggles with you as that is not healthy for you or I. Apologies in advance <3.