My ED Story
How does one start a blog post? Do I say hello?
Hey, I am Sarah (Katherine to some, SK to many, Sarah to most), and I am in recovery from an eating disorder. So what does that mean to you? If you don’t have an eating disorder, than that means that I am the girl on social media that occasionally whips out a selfie with some inspiration that you like. It’s a big jump from what I used to be to the average person, you know, the girl that you met once that you heard had an eating disorder so you creep through my pictures to see when it “started.”
I am going to give you the short of my bad days because as weird as it sounds, when I was active in my behaviors is not the story that matters. For years my life consisted of the routine of trauma, starvation, rehab. I was called chronic, I was asked to use government assistance because the reality of the mental illness looked like I would most likely never be able to hold down a job, and I used to go to bed with depends on because my abuse of laxatives had me waking up too many mornings in my own shit. I mean, that’s basically what happened. I’ve told the story too many times and although you may want to hear what life was like when I was in the valley, I am hoping that this post defines what I tell people I am now.
I am fine. But what the hell does that mean? That’s what I tell people and I mean, I ain’t wrong. I am fine. I have a life that I was told would not happen. In fact, I am typing this in my desk at my full time job (thanks Zoloft). I am madly in love with the most kind, beautiful man. I am a proud mom of an Italian Greyhound. I have friends. I have boundaries. And most importantly, I eat lunch.
I am in recovery. I am not on a meal plan. I am weight restored. There is never any question of what I am doing in the bathroom or if I am pooping because I took laxatives or ate too much cheese. Yes, I mentioned poop. When people see me, they don’t put there puppy dog eyes and ask if I am ok. When I go to the doctor, I am told to lay off the Chick-fil-a, and to that I say, make me. So I have this really cool life with a list of things that are not worth losing for my eating disorder. I am fine, remember?
On paper, fine is simple, it’s black and white. I am doing recovery things and in return, I am getting this life that’s pretty amazing. I look normal, I do normal things, I put on my normal pants and it’s alllllll fine.
Here’s a secret, though. I am still f*cking crazy, or at least that’s how I feel. The concept of fine and recovery looks normal but my head is this constant game of whack a mole that I unplugged months ago but somehow doesn’t stop popping up. Recovery is a lot of shared quotes on facebook but in my head, recovery is a routine, sane voice in my head saying, ”What the hell am I doing?”
My eating disorder is smart. It knows that I am not going to go off the walls and stop eating lunch. Not today at least. My eating disorder knows that for me to listen, it has to be quiet. It has to be sound like my healthy mind and it does. It knows that I am not motivated to die anymore nor am I motivated to be a certain size.
Food doesn’t scare me anymore but the reality of my body does. So I don’t do things, small things, to compromise. I haven’t bought a shirt my size since treatment. I don’t take pictures of myself. I don’t go out much. I don’t communicate with people. When I engage in avoidance, I am engaging in my eating disorder. I am listening to the part on my mind that’s sole purpose is to sabotage me. My eating disorder wants me to avoid reality so whether it’s trying to meet unrealistic ideals or just trying to have the courage to look at the mirror. And when I do those things, it isn’t like my minds knows it’s my mental illness, it sounds like my healthy mind. So I listen to it, I avoid to be comfortable.
My eating disorder tells me recovery is a compromise. I will eat when I need to and do all the steps that make me physically healthy, but the compromise integrates with my mental health. I will eat x, but only if I am comfortable. If my body is hidden with an enormously large shirt, then I am worthy enough to talk to others. If I do anything positive, my eating disorder expects me to do something to make it more comfortable. I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work. This whole eating disorder mess of the past decade of my life has been fully motivated by the fact that it works in the beginning. From when the disease to now. If it works, I will maintain it.
Here’s what real about eating disorders, whether it’s yours, whether it’s mine or a friend of a friend that you occasionally see posts something inspirational: The comfortability fades. The comfort of restricting or purging or eating or whatever you did gives you a moment of comfort will have you waking up one day and saying “Holy sh*t, what’s making me comfortable, what used to work is a delusion.” And that comfort, that motivator is not a motivator for good. It’s a disease that it motivating you to compromise your freedom, your happiness, your friends, and most importantly, your sanity. I deserve to post pictures of myself without a caption that clarifies that I have an eating disorder so my mind will justify it. I deserve to wear clothes that fit. I deserve to have friends. I deserve the world that I have created and I deserve to leave the world of compromise.
The life of my eating disorder doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter what I did, what weight I was, or what my patient file says. What matters is what I do when I say I am “fine.” What steps I have to force myself to take to not be comfortable and to be not only healthy physically but mentally as well. If you’re in recovery for anything, you’re “fine” is what matters. What you did to get fine matters, what you do to stay fine matters and what you are willing to surrender to move from fine to great or even recovered is what it going to save your life.