18 February 2011

Shedding the ED Identity

I am Angela.
I am not anorexic.
I am not a bad person.
I refuse to place labels on myself anymore.
I no longer hate my body.
I am learning to love myself.
I turn to my God in times of need and blessings.
I am in love with my husband and my friends and my family and all that life has to offer.
I am shedding the eating disorder identity.
I am no longer the woman who felt the most important thing about her was her weight and body size. I refuse to be that person. The only way to full recovery is to believe it can happen, and then go through the process.
Anything less than believing this is selling myself short.

Several people have questioned what they see as a dramatic change in me within only a few weeks. One person wrote, "How can it be that easy?"

No, it wasn't easy. It was hard and full of pain and tears. I often got down on my hands and knees and begged God to take away the anxiety and pain of recovery, of being separated from my husband, of the loneliness I felt as I ate most meals by myself.

But I have chosen to be positive. I have many blessings. My husband and I are talking and growing closer again, and we both acknowledge our love for each other. I have no idea about the future, but I do believe love will prevail in the end. I am determined to live a life of joy and happiness, free of anorexia and all its fallout. I feel one way to do this is to envision the type of life I want.

I remember my last attempt at recovery in the fall. At first I was very positive. But then I slowly slid back into anxiety and depression, and of course I used that to start restricting and losing weight. Before I knew it, I was again enmeshed in anorexia.

You see, I did have a rather romantic view of anorexia. Several people accused me of romanticizing anorexia, and of course I vehemently denied these accusations.

But I was wrong. My malnourished brain didn't realize that I was addicted to anorexia and the whole eating disorder identity.

This time around, I knew I had to do something different or recovery would always remain just out of grasp. I also knew that if I didn't recovery that I could die of anorexia. It was no longer romantic and airy-fairy, floating through life as a feather. It was about pain and suffering and death. And that death would most likely be slow and painful, not the quick heart attack I had imagined.

So I decided that this time I would stay as positive as possible. I would focus on the positive aspects of recovery — the lessening of anxiety and depression, being able to think clearer, the fact that I could focus better on writing and studying.

But it wasn't easy. I cried at many meals, and in the beginning I struggled with eating and drinking about five times more calories than what I was used to.

But I never stopped eating. Not once. Even when I felt so much emotional pain that I asked myself if giving up anorexia was what I really wanted to do. The answer was always, "Yes!"

This is because I simply decided I wanted a real life. Not a life of counting calories and worrying about every bite I put in my mouth and being constantly hammered by the eating disorder voice within my brain that I shouldn't eat, that I didn't deserve to eat.

I wanted out.

I don't have those thoughts anymore. I don't call myself anorexic. I say I am recovering from anorexia. I have reached my goal weight, and I look at my new figure and I rather like it. I look like a woman, not a starving person on the edge of a breakdown.

I am not that person anymore. And I never want to be again.


Frugalista said...

That's so great!! Glad to see you getting your life back.

I Hate to Weight said...

that's amazing.

i'm astounded that anyone would question your recovery/ only you know how you are. and life is just what it is in the present. if this is how you are now, this is how you are. as you said, no one can predict the future.

i'm so thrilled that you are having some peace and so much hope. beautiful.

Missy said...

This is beautiful!
I'm starting to lose hope in myself and this inspires me.

Kris said...

Hi, I read your blog from time to time (hope you don't mind) and just wanted to say how happy I am for you. It's such an inspiration to be reminded of the feeling of getting one's life back. It's like there are so many possibilities that one doesn't know what to do first.

I also have to say that you are very strong for going through this somewhat alone (without your husband there). I do understand that it would be hard for him and maybe he doesn't think that watching you hurt yourself is something he signed up for -- but it is pretty hard to predict the future and I can't believe he would leave and give up on the next day being a better one! Perhaps, in some ways, it was a good thing to allow you to focus more time on your own recovery and health -- so I shouldn't judge. I'm just really amazed by your strength.

Last thing (promise I won't write a novel), I think it's also great that you've changed the name of your blog/it's look etc. When I was anorexic (not sure what I am considered now... the blood work is normal and the ED thoughts aren't constant), I used to have a different blog and one day I realized that I had to give up on writing it because the "anorexia story" had come to an end. It was like there was nothing left to write -- I was better, I wrote some posts that I hoped would inspire others and then I quit. I'm not saying you should do the same (I certainly missed all the online friends I'd made) but perhaps changing your blog's appearance and title in some way will also help you to "end" the anorexic phase of your life and move onward into a new one as it did for me.

Congrats again on all of your strength and for doing so well -- you sound really positive and I hope that each day will be better than the previous one!

Josie said...

Over my recovery period it often seemed to me that it was happening magically (finally, after so many attempts). I knew I was making choices...but it was still hard to figure out how I managed to do it. People tell me I'm a transformed person. One day I suppose it will be straight in my head and I'll clearly see what happened and how I managed to do it -- and then I'll write a book on it :) Keep it up! So happy for you!

Angela E. Lackey said...

Josie, oh, I definitely plan to write a book about all this some day!

Thanks everyone for your kind words and encouragement!!!

Harriet said...

I didn't say, "It can't be that easy."

I asked, "How can it be that easy?" I asked because I wanted to know. Your recent relapse sounded pretty severe from your description of it. A few weeks after describing it, you start saying that you aren't anorexic any more - and blog about how you stopped another person from becoming anorexic by posting the dangers of eating disorders on a pro-ana site.

My point is that I already know the dangers; hearing that anorexia could kill me is not enough to make me better. I want to recover. I've made a list of all the things about this illness that I hate and another list of all the things that I could do if I didn't have it. I set challenges for myself to encourage better eating. I'm trying to reduce my exercise. But I've been caught up in anorexia/bulimia for ten years, and while I've been a lot more ill than I am now and I've made a lot of progress over the past two years in particular, I'm still not better. I want to know how someone can defeat anorexia in the space of a fortnight.

Around Christmastime somebody left hurtful comments on your blog stating that you are choosing to make yourself ill. I responded to them by saying that AN is not a choice. You agreed. Now here you are writing that you are better because you 'simply decided' that you wanted a better life. That does make anorexia sound like a choice, and I don't understand it.

Angela E. Lackey said...


I apologize for misquoting you and changed it. (Although I think it is a matter of semantics; the question "How can it be that easy?" implies that it was easy, which it wasn't.)

Anorexia is not a choice. I still believe that. But to chose to recover is a choice, a hard choice that each person with an eating disorder has to make. I have to choose every day to work at recovery. I could chose not to work at recovery, and that would cause me to become sick again. I had to dig very deep to make the choice to recover; many times I chose not to recover or to just try but not very hard.

I understand that telling many people with anorexia about the dangers does not work. It did not work with me for years. The person I wrote about did not have anorexia; instead, she felt she was beginning to develop disordered eating and realized it was a problem after reading my comments. So she decided to address it before it became a bigger problem (as I wished I had when there were warning signs, but I didn't.)

Susu Paris Chic said...

Dear You... Angela,

You inspire me. I am on that same road. On the way of getting my life back. It is wonderful, and scary at times since it requires mental strength. But it is the best thing to do.