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For the Warrior and Her Army

by Meg Sarai 4 years ago in recovery
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The Messy Truth About Eating Disorder Recovery

"ED is the enemy, I am the warrior, and you are my army... I'll bring the brave if you've got my back."

Recovery as a finished product is a beautiful thing… however, the process is all but that. It's messy, complicated, and although it brings freedom you will discover that you also have to set limitations and boundaries for yourself in order to maintain your freedom from your disorder.

One of the dangers of anorexia specifically is that oftentimes patients are complimented on the things that they can only do because of their anorexia driving them to do. For example, anorexics are perfectionists by nature and driven as well, but the reason they can meet and exceed academic expectations isn’t always because of this or because they are overly brilliant… What people can’t see is that the inescapable insomnia, panic attacks, and nightmares make sleeping very unappealing and sometimes impossible. Therefore, the perfectionistic anorexic will use the time to study. Another thing anorexics will do at night is clean and exercise… You wonder how they lose weight so quickly, always have a clean house, and are exhausted during the day? Yep… insomnia.

Another thing that usually happens during recovery is that the girl who is usually quite composed, reserved, quiet, stoic, and seemingly unbothered by anything will have times of intense emotion and break down (or blow up) over things that she never would have batted an eye at while in the midst of her anorexia. Do not fear, she’s just feeling again, and it HURTS. Imagine having the worst pain anyone could have (amputation, compound fracture of all your limbs, being mauled by some animal beyond the point of recognition… you get the picture)… now imagine the doctor turning off the morphine and pouring alcohol in your wounds or pulling on your injured body… THAT is how recovery feels emotionally. The disorder was how she was able to live through her pain and function, but we can’t just have “a little bit” of an eating disorder so our relief and emotional numbing “morphine” is taken away and then... therapy… that’s the alcohol and the tugging on the painful parts of her mind and memories. So, be patient when she loses it and starts crying over pasta… She’s really crying for her past that she never got to feel.

Here’s the thing… good grades, a clean house, working out (in moderation) and emotional stability are not bad things and oftentimes, well-meaning family members and friends will expect all of these things to continue through one of the most painful and difficult parts of recovery. We even believe we should be able to keep the old parts of who we were and just ditch the “maladaptive” part of our ED personality. That is way too much pressure, dearheart! Would we expect a woman going through chemo and radiation to function better than your average, healthy woman? NO. I rest my case.

So, I tell you all these “behind the scenes” facts to say… FELLOW RECOVERY WARRIORS: Be gentle on yourself… you’re becoming who you were always meant to be. People may have unrealistic expectations of you in this time, but don’t feel like you have to explain yourself (just send them this article LOL) because this is your journey and your healing. Set limitations unapologetically because chances are a superhuman couldn’t do what you were doing while in the sly grasp of your eating disorder. Don’t compromise your recovery for the acceptance and admiration of others. It will never be “enough” for them, but it will quickly become to much for you and your recovery.

DEAR WARRIOR SUPPORTER: You are essential to your loved one's recovery. They don’t love themselves so you have to show them how and why they should. If you’re reading this, I know you care and want to help. Talk to them, love them, ask to join them on this scary, beautiful, messy journey. Remember you’re on the same team and try not to take things personally when the eating disorder tried to sabotage her and you. Things scream the loudest when they are dying… get ready for her disorder to scream because recovery is on the horizon and it is a glorious sight!


About the author

Meg Sarai

I’m a wife, mom, student, dancer, youth leader and a survivor of anorexia, attemped suicide, and trauma. I am passionate about using my writing to encourage and inspire others to travel through the struggles of today with hope for tomorrow.

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