Track Meet

I know that recovery isn't a straight line. It would be nice, but I know it's not.

On the other hand, recovery is still a line- a path of some sort. Meandering and unpaved, but nonetheless, a path. The optimist in me says that even my mistakes are part of that path. I'm learning! I'm getting there!

Maybe that is true. But it's not the making of the mistakes that is the useful part, since anyone can wander. Getting distracted in the forest is easy. However, the good part is in finding your way back to the path.

When I'm hiking in the woods (a girly, sissy kind of hiking, but one where boots are indeed involved, along with a gallon baggie of trail mix and two large bottles of water), I like climbing uphill. Looking down frankly scares the crap out of me. That, and it's murder on my knees. Recovery is a lot of climbing downhill. I want to go up. It's natural to go up. People don't generally climb down mountains, they go up them.

But when you're a recovering anorexic in a culture of whacked-out dieters, you are going downhill while everyone else is going up. The scales, calorie counters, diet pills, workout machines, buy one get one free gym memberships- those are like me climbing uphill. Losing weight and starving is oddly natural for me. When I get stressed, my appetite evaporates, and the cycle begins. To get out of that cycle, I have to do the unnatural. I have to eat. A lot. Especially food (like super premium ice cream) that is generally frowned upon in most of the rest of society.

So while everyone else is looking to get to the pinnacle of diet mania, I am going to the bottom, where the air is better, the plants are bigger, and yeah, the hiking sucks.

The moral of the metaphor? I started climbing uphill these past few weeks.

The end of semester rush was brutal, and I felt it. Some of it was a genuine lack of hunger, some of it was the semi-deliberate starvation neutralization of hunger. Between those two things, I was off and running (hiking?). My weight dropped- not by much, but enough. Enough to make me much more batty and almost enamored of that hike.

The distance between me and the path I knew I should be on started to freak me out a bit. It feels like vertigo, where the distance between my mental state and the rest of reality drifted back and forth, and I was left with a vaguely nauseous feeling.

I have started hiking back downhill in the past few days. My knees hurt, but the plant life is much better.

Oh, and Harriet? I totally beat you at the ice cream game. Ben and Jerry's Cinnamon Roll has (check it out) 290 cal per half cup. Ed, however, is the ultimate loser.

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Dreaming again said...

Vertigo ...very good description.

Sarah said...

Great post, Carrie. I am so glad that you have this a bility to see what's going on with you and catch yourself. It took a lot of hard work and misery to get there, I know. . . But it's worth it. YOU are worth it.


A :) said...

I've always heard of recovery as climbing up a hill, but I love your analogy.

I'm glad you were able to recognize that dangerous signs of relapse and begin to buckle down.

I couldn't do this (or I tried to justify it) which was what got me an ultimatum (gain the rest of the weight at home and see us for aftercare or leave) kicked out of the day program I was in.

Now my continuing recovery depends on the team letting me into their aftercare program. And gaining the damn insurance weight they want.

It's such a skill to see when ED starts playing with your mind and DOING something about it is so difficult when the temptation is strong. Like, "Maybe I just won't have this Boost, etc"

You have such strength Carrie.

Laura Collins said...

Breathtaking analogy. It immediately makes sense. Bravo for that, and for heading back... downhill.

Harriet said...

You go, Carrie. Go on down that hill. It's hard on the knees but so so so much easier to breathe going down, don't you think?

I'll have to check out that ice cream . . . with my daughter. :-)

Anonymous said...

Very interesting analogy. I'm in recovery - sort of at the beginning. Long way to go. sigh...

Just curious - how do you know you've lost weight? I've been told it's best not to weigh on a scale and I've been so reluctant to give that up but I have found it does help.

carrie said...

Thanks, all.

I don't have time to respond to each of you individually.

To Anon at the end- I'm weighed at the therapist's. They don't do blind weights, so I do know what I weigh. Scales are dangerous, you're right.


Jeanne said...


Awesome. Simply awesome.

May I add:

* climbing mountains = sense of accomplishment... in our culture, anyway, the belief is that the higher you climb, the greater the rewards... So given that, walking downhill "feels" like failing.
It's being counter-culture all alone.

I'm hiking downhill myself right now... Feel free to send up a flare - maybe we can pitch a tent and have a cookout. ;-)

thinking of you with lots of love,

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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