And sometimes they kill you with them.
Cryptic? Yes. Harsh? Yes. I firmly believe that it is necessary at times.
So I’ve been binging lately. Every. Single. Night. I will be perfectly fine all day and then eat upwards of 3000 calories between 8–10 pm. I then feel disgusting and have to stay up until like 4 am so that my stomach feels at least half way settled and I can sleep. Now, before I get “Well, maybe it’s physiological and you aren’t giving yourself enough food during the day/ Maybe you aren’t meant to be vegan.” I see a dietician and she has even told me I’m eating over 3 times what most girls my age eat, although I have a high metabolism, 5-7,000 calories a day is way too much for me especially as I haven’t found my groove with exercise again.
Back story (I was anorexic and addicted to exercise from 9th-10th grade, anorexic/bulimic 11th and half of 12th grade, and then finally just fell into a horrible binge, purge, restrict cycle until October of this year. All four and a half years orthorexia has plagued me.
So what should I do? Should I start taking detox this, laxative that, and purging? Should I become anorexic again? No, of course not. Although I crawl in my skin and am mortified and embarrassed about these things, becoming who I used to be serves me no purpose. Even as tempting as my old “safety nets” are, I am reminded that I am strong enough not to need those, no matter how hard this current struggle may be. On that note, I have the utmost respect for anyone full-heartedly battling an ED, especially once weight is restored. Many outsiders think that you are fine and happy and “normal” again; they don’t realize that once you stop physically manifesting your self-hatred, you must deal with it at a psychological level and deal with being so uncomfortable in your skin. I am mentally having way bigger battles than when I was anorexic and addicted to exercise!
When you find yourself in these positions and you want to let ED win, I hope these things help you.
1. Look at how far you have come. Seriously, I self-reflect frequently and when I see other people struggling and having certain thoughts, I vaguely remember having those feelings, but can no longer relate. I am a completely different person, and I’ve started to become someone I actually like. I had to fight to get to where I am and I sure as hell am not throwing my hard work away, even if I have gained some extra pounds.
2. It isn’t permanent. Are you stuck in a binge cycle like me? Have you gained some extra weight you don’t really need? Love yourself anyways. You CAN lose the weight a healthy way, but don’t obsess. Getting angry with yourself only perpetuates the problem. Even when I battled bulimia, my weight would go up with those behaviors because even though I got rid of my binges, I still had to eat after to recover and restore, plus my metabolism was so screwed up from it!
3. Old habits can kill. In early October I purged again for the first time in a long time. Well, my body wasn’t used to it anymore and I ended up in the hospital with a sodium level only 2 notches away from me slipping into a coma, having a seizure, or dying. Even when I hated myself most, I never had a death wish and after mistreating my body for so long thinking I was fine, I got a reality check.
4. Think of what you’ve already had to miss out on because of your ED! I had to give up friends, my memory (no really, when you’re body isn’t getting enough fuel it damages your brain and often-times your memory), my biggest passion in life (dance), my relationship with my family was awful, my grades suffered, I will never be the athlete I was due to the lasting physical complications it has left me with, and most importantly time. I gave up most of my volunteering, I never felt well and missed school frequently, I have very few close friends, I lost dance, I lost my teenage years. I refuse to lose my college years. The root of an ED is not superficial, but the end product is and it is not worth it to me to lose the one life I was granted so that I can look a certain way.
5. Who or what motivates you? God is a huge part of my life. Maybe you don’t believe in God and that is ok, but he is my rock and savior and I could feel his presence and love whenever I cried out to him helpless and hopeless because my family just didn’t understand. I repeat to myself, “Let go and let God,” any time I am distressed because I know I can recover even further from this orthorexia and binging. I want to be my best for my family and now that I have a niece, I need to be my best for her. Her presence has given me this love and light that I couldn’t even expect and I want so many things for her, including for her to be a strong woman who loves herself and knows her worth. How can I teach her that if I do not resemble that?
6. The last thing I envision, are all the awesome things you get once you do let go. I have so much more energy, I am back to being someone who doesn’t get sick often. I have way more friends now and deeper relationships with them. I went out for lunch this week with a dear friend and it still scared me to eat the sandwich I did in all of its toasted sourdough glory. I didn’t know all the ingredients, and I lived to tell the tale. I want to do things! I have hobbies again and don’t spend all day in bed on my phone or computer. I can date now. I was so self-conscious and thought that no one would want me because he would see my flaws and hold them over my head. I still have fears that I won’t be good enough for someone but it is much more manageable.
7. Get off of social media. Seriously, I took a 1.5 year hiatus and it is the best thing you can do. All the fitspirations and thinspirations with their abs and vacations and perfect eating is ridiculous and causes insane comparison. You are spending your life watching someone elses. Not to mention everyone preaches something different whether it’s paleo, vegan, 80/10/10 (psychos in my mind), raw, sugar free, grain free, the air diet, whatever! They swear their way is the best way and you know what? It might be, for them. Or they’re a load of crap getting paid to promote something and you’re falling prey to consumerism. Who knows! Point is, take a break and figure out what works FOR YOU.
Wow that got wordier than I expected, so if you’re still with me just remember, YOU ARE HUMAN! We are perfectly imperfect and (I believe) we are made in God’s Divine Image. You are you for a reason and that’s pretty freaking cool if you ask me.
What about you guys? Any tips to help stay on the road to recovery?