My first contact with anorexia was with a two-sentence entry in my Abnormal Psychology textbook. It was the 1980s, and eating disorders just weren't getting a lot of attention. My next encounter with anorexia was in the early 1990s, when I was hospitalized at the University of Michigan Hospitals after a particularly bad bout with depression and anxiety. There was a young woman there, very thin and pale, who was on complete bed rest. I later found out that she had anorexia. I scoffed, eating my bacon eggs, that anyone would willingly starve herself.
Little did I know that years later, that woman would be me.
I developed anorexia after a bout with another frightening disease, hypoparathyroidism, caused me to lose a significant amount of weight. I found that I liked being that thin, and thus was kicked into anorexia and five years of utter hell.
There have been many fits and starts during my recovery, when I would go so far, only to jerk back and start clinging to anorexia like it was my best friend. I became a serial patient at my ED doctor's hospital, being admitted eight times between 2008 and 2012.
I still sometimes ask myself, will there be a ninth admission?
I started working seriously on recovery after my last hospitalization. I was discharged on 1 January 2012, and days later, I slammed my scale against the trash can and tossed it out. I have not owned a scale since.
But eating disorder thoughts still come and go, some fleetingly, others taking hold until I feel as if I am smothering.
Fat. Not so fat. Cellulite. Dimples............fatttttttttttttt.....oh so fat!!!!!!!! I wouldn't be caught.dead.in.a.bikini, said in a clinched tone. FAT FAT FAT FAT FAT, SCREAMING AT ME, GOD PLEASE STOP THESE THOUGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Of course, anorexia isn't really about weight and food and body image. And yet it is. My life is pretty stressful right now. I'm looking for full-time work after finishing graduate school. My living situation isn't idea. I feel like a failure after the twin disasters in December and June.
It is characteristic of me to turn inward, churning up self-hatred, berating myself for actually nourishing myself as a normal human being, hating myself for no longer being a size XX.
But all of this leads me to think, will I ever be completely recovered?
I mean, the truth is, I am at the high end of the acceptable weight for my age and height. I do need to lose some weight. I am risking my health, or I was, with all the sugar and simple carbs I've been ingesting.
So how does a recovered anorexic — if I am truly recovered — address possible health issues and the need to lose weight? How do I do it safely, or is it simply not possible?
Or will this simply trigger another relapse? Can I safely maintain my healthy, get to a healthy weight, without inviting anorexia back in?
Does anyone ever really recover from an eating disorder?