Roadblocks to Recovery: Different Strokes

This is the last in the "roadblocks to recovery" series- I have gotten tremendous feedback from you all, and I'm just tickled that everyone seemed to get a lot out of it. It almost makes me wish I had more roadblocks so I could keep blogging this series!


The ED is familiar

I wrote yesterday that an eating disorder can make life simpler, but even complex things can become relatively simple if you practice long enough. More than simple, however, the anorexia is familiar. I no longer remember what it was like to eat without fear or counting calories. I don't remember what life was like before my exercise routines (they replaced study routines, which I guess just goes to show you how much I like routines). Until my most recent job, I had forgotten what it was like to bring a lunch to work, to pause for a snack, to allow myself to be seen eating. Early in my eating disorder, I remember telling myself that I needed to bring a lunch with me, but I could never remember to take it with me. Even now, it feels odd to take a lunch to work, to be seen with tangible evidence that I actually eat.

It's change. Recovery is something new and something different. And if you crave the familiar and routine like me, then you'll know what I mean when I say that I avoid even good change because it's change! The ED was predictable. I knew what to say and do. I had my day planned out down to the minute. It was comfortable and familiar.

An eating disorder is NOT a habit, but some ED behaviors can become habitual--the flipping of a box to look at the "Nutrition Facts" information, for instance. Or the perpetual hopping on and off of a scale to make sure you got the "right" weight. Or, as I mentioned above, not eating lunch. I went through a period where all I would eat was finger food- nothing that required a utensil. After several weeks of this, I ate dinner at my parents house and I remember picking up a fork and it taking a minute to remember what the hell I was supposed to do with such a thing.

An ED is hell, but it's a familiar hell. It's a hell I know how to cope with. It's a hell that has some amount of rhyme and reason and (dare I say it?) functionality to it. Being hungry doesn't bother me much because I'm used to it. I used to freak out during re-feeding because I wasn't used to feeling full and it completely freaked me out. What is that feeling? What is wrong with me? How can I make it go away?

Recovery is new and shiny and really rather strange. It often takes me a long time to see if I'll like something or not, and I'm not always 100% gung-ho positive about this recovery thing. I know the alternatives suck even more, and so I'm sticking with it. Who would have thought that one day, I would think that not wanting to throw myself under a bus would feel almost wrong? Who would have thought that one day, I would be enough in control of my anxiety that I could sit and watch a movie from start to finish and that this would feel weird? But this is recovery. It's not all of recovery, but it's part of it.

I'm still trying to come to terms with the fact that change isn't necessarily bad, and that I have the mental and emotional capacity to cope with whatever comes my way.

I hope you all enjoyed this series- I'm going to add these posts to my "Pages" list up top for easy reference.

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Tiptoe said...

This is so true. Change is hard whether it's good or bad. The familiar is always safer, and breaking free from that is a big task.

I see this with my doggie clients. There are some who do not handle change well at all. For some, they can get past that fear completely and for many, even in the midst of training, it becomes tolerable to the point of coping okay.

This has given me great perspective about change.

Great series, Carrie! I know lots of people have enjoyed it.

Amy said...

Carrie, this has been great (as great as reasons why recovery is hard can be). You're right - you don't have to hide behind science all the time. <3

Kiersten said...

You definitely hit the nail on the head. One of the biggest hurdles for me to get over is accepting change. Whether it's change in my eating, weight, thoughts, or routine; it's scary at first. I guess the alternative to recovery is a lot scarier though.

Cathy (UK) said...

Yes, I agree very much too. I have always been very rigid and unable to deal effectively with change, or anything out of the ordinary for me. This was a characteristic that affected me right from being a small child. Unless I knew exactly what was happening each hour of the day I would panic.

The onset of my AN was preceded by change that was out of my control. The rules and rituals of AN brought some constancy (and a perception of control) back into my life again.

I also really enjoyed this series Carrie :)

Amanda said...

Thank you for this post! I have been following your blog for a while. I love your insight into this eating disorder. You make so much sense of it, and I have learned a lot about myself from you.

Sarah said...

This has been a great series, Carrie, and I think this is the post that I identify the most with. I feel like I am stuck in this endless cycle and I don't know how to get out of it. I have these amazing resources -- therapist, holistic nutritionist, OA -- and I still can't seem to change. They must be tired of me by now.

I also crave the familiar and routine. But why do I crave what hurts me, both physically and emotionally? It makes no sense to me. I want to change, I just don't know how. I don't know how to stop the behavior. I guess I just have to do it, one day at a time. Like you said, the behavior becomes habitual. The more I do it, the harder it feels to stop.

Thanks for letting me spill my guts in your comments section.

Kate said...

I love this. Thank you.

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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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