Very rarely in life do we ever get a ‘how to’ manual...except in the case of IKEA furniture, and believe you me, it still takes 57.283 years to put together one chair. We learn through experience and failure. Recovery feels like that. Sure, there are set goals and intentions, but reaching those goals and solidifying intentions will look differently for everyone. The following points are geared toward individuals just starting the recovery process from anorexia or in the beginning stages…a sort of “heads up,” if you will, about what lies ahead.
Even if you haven’t had an eating disorder, stick around. Learning about EDs and the recovery process can be a powerful tool for reaching out to people who are struggling and understanding how to support them.
1. Gaining weight will be so hard in the beginning. You feel full ALL the time, and then once you do start gaining weight, you feel like you’ll NEVER stop gaining. Stick with it. Be gentle with yourself and remember your body needs calories to function.
2. It will be a lifetime process. There will be growth and regression, growth and regression, growth and regression. Celebrate the baby steps, they accumulate quickly.
3. You might hoard food. I imagine it’s something psychological. You restrict for so long that when you finally allowing yourself to eat again, you want to store it away to make sure it’ll still be there for you. Don’t be ashamed. Generally, those behaviors fade out as you continue to recover.
4. People will comment on your eating habits and weight gain. Please know that 99.9% of the time they don’t mean to be hurtful. They just can’t understand how much those comments hurt. If you feel comfortable enough with the person, talk to them about it. If not, don’t dwell on it. Your recovery is so much more important than insensitive comments.
5. Lady friends, it might take years to get your cycle back. I’ll talk about my experience with amenorrhea in another post. It takes time. It takes persistence. You’ll probably feel less feminine and womanly, but our bodies are smart. They will heal.
6. It will be pure bliss when you eat something “decadent” without guilt.
7. You’ll become so much more aware (and sensitive) about commenting and on people’s bodies, food, etc. This is actually, a wonderful thing about having and ED. You have this amazing ability to empathize with other ED fighters and recognize that everyone has their own story.
8. You’ll probably have nasty GI issues. We’re talking farting, weird poop, major bloating. I’ve seen it all.
9. Exercise will be an awesome outlet, but it can be abused. Use it with caution.
10. You can get better. This doesn’t have to be baggage that you carry with you forever. Okay so probably people tell you this, but if you’re recovering alone, know that you can get through it. Yes, it takes time. No, it’s not easy, but you most definitely can do it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and ask for help.
Disclaimer: Please remember I am not a health professional. These are simply my thoughts based on my own personal experiences. Reach out to your doctor for medical advice.