I promised when I started this blog that I would be honest and raw about what it is like to be in recovery from an eating disorder…so here it goes!
This past week has been terrible. I feel constantly exhausted and my body is so swollen and puffy that I feel like I am walking around like the michelin man. It feels like I’m waterlogged and heavy and I have no idea whats going on.
This healing process has been hard on my body. I pretty much live in a constant state of Edema. I swell a LOT. It’s swelling that hurts and makes me think something is very wrong. (I’ve had about a million tests and it continues to narrow down to just recovery healing). I shy away from hugs because my skin feels like it will snap if someone squeezes too hard. Touch feels like a million needles stabbing my skin. I live in leggings and baggy sweaters because my body swells up and down so much that anything else would be uncomfortable.
I know that swelling in recovery is a pretty normal thing. I mean after all, if you break your ankle, it swells up so it can be protected while it heals. I have damaged my bones, organs, cells, hormones, digestive track and who knows what else, so my ENTIRE BODY is doing the same thing.
As a person who is in recovery from an eating disorder, the fear of weight gain is extreme. I’ve already gained a substantial amount of weight during recovery. (ugh). Throw in massive amounts of swelling and it’s basically my worst nightmare.
When I feel huge and swollen a bazillion E.D. thoughts pop in my head about my weight and food.
“See, I knew if I ate I would get huge.”
“If you don’t eat lunch the swelling will go away.”
“Don’t leave the house, you are huge and disgusting…it’s embarrasing”
“Life was better when I was anorexic, this is SO much worse.”
“Maybe my team doesn’t know what they are talking about.”
“The swelling will NEVER go away, I will be stuck like this forever.”
“You should hit the gym HARD and get rid of all this fat…because that’s what it is..it isn’t swelling, it is fat, and it won’t ever stop until you stop eating all this food and get back to the gym.”
“Take a diuretic, you will feel better.”
The problem with the swelling, other then the thoughts and the physical annoyance, is that it makes it VERY difficult to eat.
How do I eat when I feel huge? My eating disorder is telling me that if I keep eating I will just get bigger and bigger. It is telling me that if I stop eating I will feel better. It is telling me that the food is what is causing the swelling and if I could just figure out which foods to cut back out I will go back to being ok.
I KNOW that these things are not true. Eating Disorders LIE. The truth is that eating is the only way the swelling will eventually stop. It is the only way my body will get the nutrients it needs in order to heal as fast as it can. I ruined my digestive track and my body was starved of nutrients for years. It has to relearn how to break down food and process it in a way that makes my body work right again. I know that if I stop eating it will make it worse. It will slow down the process. It will ruin my recovery. It will let my eating disorder win.
If there is one thing I know about myself, it is that when I put my mind to something I do NOT lose. The perfectionism in me that helped me maintain my anorexia is also the same perfectionism that will help me get out of it. I may be heavy and swollen and tired, but I WILL continue to eat. Not because I like it. Not because it tastes good. Not because it feels good, but because I must. Because even though my eating disorder is screaming at me to stop, there is still that little voice of my own saying, no, keep going. Keep eating. Trust the process. Trust your team. Trust in the God that renews and heals. Just keep eating. This WILL go away. It WILL get better. I WILL be free.
- Sara -
"If you're going through hell, keep going" - Winston Churchill