Why is it that every time I work on one part of recovering from the ED, another piece of it tries to seduce me? Of course, the obvious answer is that it’s a mental illness… duh. Technicalities aside, why does it have to happen that way? I mean, I work on not bingeing and purging, and all of a sudden I want to restrict. I work on not restricting, and then I want to overexercise. As soon as I make the decision to eat on my food plan, as planned, I get the urge to overeat… just a little… or restrict, just a little. And then the mental cycle starts again, which allows me to never fully be at peace. Throw any level of stress in the mix, and the entire thought train is magnified.
My ED symptoms are like small systems, interacting and taking direction from a larger system in my brain, my personal director of weight management…which takes direction from an even larger system, My Sense of Self. The surface problem is that I’m still choosing to define who I am by external qualities, like what my body looks like and what I achieve. The more deeply-rooted problems are… well, too complex to get into on this post.
The short of it is, at my core, I still feel inadequate. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel happy, because my life is better than ever. But at the end of the day, when I look at what motivates me, I have an invisible “I”, standing for Inadequacy, slapped across my forehead, following my every move.
Throughout my recovery, professionals have told me that as long as I was active in the addiction, it takes the same amount of time to recover. I don’t mean “recover” like cured from thinking about and engaging in ED behavior; I mean recovery from the arrested development and the issues that triggered the ED in the first place. I always thought that I would make faster progress… wrong. The complexities, and subsequent mind-fucks (pardon my French), of EDs are baffling.
So, I’ve been in a cycle of restricting for a couple of months. Not a lot, but enough to lose weight and have people notice. It’s strange that I’m in this phase, because I haven’t been “here” since before my bulimia started. Like many, prior to bulimia, I restricted… until I got too hungry one day, and decided to start throwing up. Of course, I’m simplifying my double-twisting dive into the abyss of the ED, but you get the point.
What’s even stranger, is that I’m not restricting because I think I’m fat, and my goal is not to achieve anorexia. Also, I feel indifferent to the weight loss. I don’t exactly get a high from it. On some level, I just really don’t care; I know that I look fine and that I don’t need to lose weight. Moreover, I want to become an eating disorder specialist some day, sooner than later, and so I don’t want to ever become “sick” in that way again.
And yet, I still want to lose weight. What this shows me is that the mental dis-ease of this mental illness still has powerful ammunition, even in recovery.