If you read my last blog then you are aware that the past month or so has been a bit difficult. In the world of recovery, things are not always perfect. I can go a long time doing really well, and then when life happens in a pretty brutal way, my eating disorder sneaks back in like my long lost best friend ready to comfort me. I forget that it’s not my friend and in fact it makes things a million times worse.
I had a short little relapse. By relapse I mean, restricting food, being hard on myself about exercise, weighing myself (a BIG no no), obsessing about how and when I will lose all the recovery weight, living in depression, anxiety and self loathing. It was an ugly week. BUT, I’ve come out of it and I’m doing a LOT better!
I’d like to credit my ability to come out of a short relapse to my own incredible determination and pure will power (sarcasm implied), but the truth is, recovery takes a village. I can’t do it all on my own.
Yes, there is a part of it that is my determination to overcome anorexia and all the nasty things that come along with it, but honestly, it’s a combination of my personal strength and resilience as well as my deep faith, an incredible team of doctors and the support of family, friends, fellow recoverers (is that a word?) and even blog readers!
I think the first step of coming out of a relapse is realizing the relapse is happening. It’s paying attention to what is going on, how I’m eating, how sluggish and fatigued I feel, the amount of ED thoughts that are all of a sudden there, as well as the increase in my desire to sleep, cry and lash out about pretty much anything. I can sometimes see these things on my own, but often they need to be pointed out to me before I even notice. (Thus the reason I’ve said over and over again in my blogs, that people that suffer from eating disorders, don’t always see it!) In my case, this is exactly what happened. The person to say something was my dietician. She noticed my food intake drastically dropping and I think I cried through an entire appointment. (That must have been a joy for her….). Once she pointed out what was happening I became aware of it, and thanks to previous years of treatment, I have an entire toolbox of coping skills to get me back on track, and I know how to use them.
I immediately got back on a meal plan. Rested my body. Took time to soak myself in truth about diet, exercise, health, recovery, what my body is doing, etc, and I REACHED OUT FOR SUPPORT to get back on track.
A lot of times in recovery it is easy to feel shame about having an eating disorder and ESPECIALLY about relapsing and struggling when everyone seems to think you have it all together. But, as we all know, pride comes before the fall, so it’s best to humble myself, realize I need support, and just ask for it.
I told my husband I was struggling BAD. I shared with my mom what was going on. I reached out to some of my siblings to let them know I needed prayer, help and to talk. I called a couple of close friends and shared that I was failing. I opened up to my bible study leader that I felt lost and broken. All of these people rallied behind me and helped me to get back on track. They prayed over me, encouraged me, made me snacks, texted to check if I ate my lunch, made me feel beautiful and poured their hope over me so I was able to become full of it when I was unable to find the hope myself.
I decided to buck up and finally write a truthful blog about what was happening. The amount of support that I have received from those of you that read my blog has been incredible. I’m serious. Being honest about how I was struggling lead to a huge amount of support that I didn’t realize I even had. People wrote me really kind emails and messages. They validated how hard things are, and encouraged me to keep going. There were many people who invited me to get together! If I’m honest, I’m still so anxious about seeing people because of my weight, but just the invitations made me realize that they don’t care, so why should I? I had ladies from my support group call and talk to me for hours. The phone calls were such a blessing. NOTHING is better then talking through all of this with people that 10000% relate and have been there and done that. This sounds so archaic, but I even received a few things in the mail to boost my spirits and help me get it together. A sweet friend of mine from my support group in DC sent me a book about belonging and how to feel like I belong in a new place. Another person sent me a beautiful bracelet saying how proud of me she was in my recovery. There are so many more I can mention, but don’t want to make you read it all. The point is, support is IMPORTANT in recovery. I REALLY needed it and the amount I received was actually what helped me to get it together.
I know in my last blog I accused God of not hearing me or caring about me. I lost faith that He can heal me and questioned His promises to calm my anxiety and give me rest and hope. I think the truth is He shows up for me/us in ways that we least expect it. I want Him to wake me up XX pounds thinner like a freaking Christmas miracle, but instead, He puts me on peoples hearts and minds that will reach out a rally behind me to give me renewed hope and encouragement. He gives my doctor the idea to try some more testing to get to the bottom of the problems that still haven’t been overcome. He speaks to me through His Word to comfort me and remind me of what He is capable of. Ever read Psalms? It’s literally line after line of people crying out in their deepest valleys, hardest emotions and rawest thoughts. Coincidence that Psalms is what my bible study was studying last week? I think not!
All in all I just want to thank all of you who have supported me over the last couple of weeks. Without you I would have been in a VERY bad place. With the help of my family, friends, support group, doctors, readers and an amazing God I know I can do this. It might take me five years and couple more set-backs, but dang-it I am going to get there....with your support of course!
- Sara -