Missing the eating disorder?

I was stressed and in a funk this weekend for a variety of reasons (which shall remain unnamed for privacy purposes), and I was thinking about how much different the experience was compared to when I was sick with AN.  The AN acted as kind of a dimmer switch for such banal stresses as "Will my mortgage go through?" and "Am I going to find a new therapist?"  All that mattered was not eating and overexercising.  It made my world cohere.

It's one of the things I miss about the eating disorder.  I don't miss being sick, don't miss feeling like rancid raw chicken all the time.  I don't want to be sick again.  But what I still get the occasional, achy twinges for (or sappy longing--whatever) is that coherence factor.  The feeling that I could make my life seem "okay" via the anorexia and its routines.  Now, I have to sit with my stress and problem-solve and communicate and it's so much easier to just head to the gym.  So not only do I get the anxiety relief, both biochemical and otherwise, but I also get to wallow in the fact that I'm being healthy! and fit! and good!

I addressed many of these feelings in my Roadblocks to Recovery series, and they're just a relevant as ever.  Although the exact situations that trip me up vary, they tend to be of the same theme.  Dealing with change.  Stress/Anxiety.  Perfectionism.

I guess I shouldn't be down on myself that I miss some of the aspects of anorexia, but more astonished that I don't miss it more.

I know that I can't go back to being that gym bunny and lettuce lover without feeling like crap, even if there are some short-term benefits.  It makes me feel a bit like a petulant child, stamping her feet and shrieking "But it's not FAIR!"

No.  No, Carrie, it isn't fair.  None of this is.

But by working through my problems--asking for advice, communicating, buying every House MD season on DVD for 50% off*--I'm realizing that I don't need a Xanax salt lick or marathon exercise session to get through life without flipping out.  I still want to fall back on my defaults from the years of my eating disorder (which is why I call them defaults, no?) but I'm working on it.

*There's no insurance cutoff on retail therapy! ;)

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Lisa said...

I understand the ambivalent feelings towards our ED and wanting part of how we were when we were sick and not wanting the sick part. It's hard to accept that they come together- having one means we have the other hell. You can stay healthy.

hm said...

I LOVE THIS POST! It is exactly what I needed to hear. I am currently clinging to old patterns to find sanity emotionally- and feeling like absolute shit physically. But terrified to get back on the wagon for fear that I won't feel any better anyway, and might even feel worse. But you feel better? You are stronger? Ok (deep breath)- I think I'll try stepping back over to your side of the street. I love it that you're so strong in your stance that recovery is better. Keep saying that! I'm clinging to that vicariously. I think I'll read this post about 50 more times to try and make it sink in.

ex ana said...

I also love this post. That is the feeling. Instead of just closing the past, you take advantage of looking back. You are showing the way (with stones of course)to many people. Thanks

Ellie said...

I keep coming back to this same crossroads. Do I choose recovery or AN? I want to go back to AN because it is so comforting. It's been with me for many years and I can count on it to always be there. I am scared of complete recovery because of the unknown. I'm scared of jumping off the diving board (AN) into the swimming pool (recovery). I don't know what's going to happen - what it's going to be like. Thank you for all of your posts, they keep me motivated to choose the healthier path.

Wonderingsoul said...

I want to be where you are Carrie. I hope that doesn't sound as horribly insensitive as I think it might,but I hear so much of me now in the 'you' you don't want to go back to...
Hang on to the new healthy you. It's such an incredible achievement.


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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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Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at carrie@edbites.com

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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