The Patient.

Yesterday I went for a long walk on the beach. I brought my ipod and plugged in my headphones, but even with that distraction I couldn’t keep the thoughts from running. Sometimes I really enjoy walks. Sometimes, when I’m comfortable with where I am and how things are, I can completely lose myself to world and be absorbed by the music. Yesterday, that was not the case. I couldn’t stop thinking about where I am in my life and how things have changed. It occurred to me that I am no longer a patient. I have been out of the hospital for almost two years now. I’ve been symptom free for seven straight months. That is, until yesterday.

I returned home from my walk exhausted but I couldn’t sleep — again, the washing machine, not to mention the four or five bodies walking in and out of my room, opening the door, drawers and the like. I figured that when everyone left maybe I could sleep, but when I laid down for a few minutes after they left I wasn’t tired anymore. So I got up. Got something to eat. And it hit me, that urge that I haven’t really experienced in months. The most efficient way for me to waste time. The most caustic way for me to destroy my body. I tried to be rational. Seven months. How could I throw that down the drain? What would it be like to tell my doctor? Didn’t I care?

In that moment, I decided that I didn’t. And with the first bite, I knew what I would do. I didn’t try to stop myself. It’s scary how easily the routine came back to me. Chew, swallow, purge, clean. It had a very numbing effect on me and maybe that’s what I was going for. But that’s not what I want. Not today.

After I binged and purged last night, I showered. I always shower. It’s my way of cleaning myself, of trying to erase the bad, the ugly side of me. I didn’t feel good after purging. Empty, yes. But also exhausted and weak. I called Jay and we talked for a while. He reminded me that one incident does not erase seven whole months. It’s still hard to believe. It’s still hard for me to accept. It makes me question my recovery. How is it possible for me to have so many days of feeling 100% recovered and then one fine day, just slip up? How is that fair? Where is my rationale? Where is my will?

I have grown to love food. I have enjoyed experimenting and challenging myself. I haven’t expected the criticism, largely from my sister and also from myself. She makes me feel bad for enjoying food. She makes me feel like a freak because I like to cook and try new things. Why can’t you just be normal?Β She always asks. I have no response. But I enjoy what I do. It’s my method of coping, really. And wouldn’t she rather have a sister who enjoys food than a sister who abhors food?

During my walk yesterday, I thought about a lot of things. How silly I feel for trying out for my school’s dance program. How embarrassing it was to have to take “remedial” classes. How I don’t want to start over, even if I feel unwelcome within the program. I don’t want to give up. I don’t want to doubt myself.

During my walk, I contemplated my identity in terms of my eating disorder. I know so many people who still struggle, so many wonderful people. I still struggle, clearly, but how is it fair to say that I struggle when it is so little in comparison? I know what it is like to pull the covers over your head and hope to never have to come out. I know. But that’s now where I am anymore. I know that I can move on from that hell, but I need to give myself the permission to.

As much as I hate my eating disorder, it did give me one thing; an identity. I belonged within the sphere of those who cycle in and out of treatment centers. I was sick, eternally sick. But I’m not anymore. And I don’t belong there anymore. That’s hard to swallow. But that loss of self is necessary. It’s necessary to lose that self if I want to thrive, to really live.

Sometimes I don’t feel like I have much. Last night, I had no one within my immediate vicinity to keep me company. But I did have a phone. A boyfriend willing to talk. The distraction of my computer. A great book. I had and I do have so much. I need to remember that.

I want to take today to rest and restore my body. I want to rebuild my body as best I can by consuming nourishing foods. I know that I can. I will. I am. I will not let my self doubts override me today. I will not give in to the hatred. Today, I will forgive myself. I will treat myself with the care that I deserve. I will let myself let go of the patient. I am not her anymore.

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14 Comments

Filed under bubbaloo, ed, recovery

14 responses to “The Patient.

  1. oh lovely I am so sorry you had a rough experience. something to remember is that this is not a relapse, it is a slip. I think what shows that is what you did afterwards. you did not hide it, you asked for help, you looked for support and you sough to make it different. that shows amazing progress. symptom free isn’t always going to be perfection, sometimes we need to make those mistakes to realize how bad we actually want recovery. i know that sounds strange and twisted but it is so true. keep fighting, you are doing an amazing job.

    • I agree — symptom free doesn’t mean perfection, it doesn’t mean that the eating disorder is gone. I think I’ve been pretty caught up in thinking that if I don’t use symptoms I must be doing fine when in reality there is a huge slew of other things to look at, such as my mood, body image, etc. Thanks for this πŸ™‚

  2. livepassionatelytonight

    You are so strong for writing this. You totally realize and take responsibility for what happened and that is HUGE. Things will only continue to get better from here.

  3. Your writing is beautiful and I commend you for posting this … took a lot of courage to share what you did. Please know as one of your followers, I totally support you and will always listen. I used to have some eating issues myself, along with over-exercising, so I understand in a sense … I really do. You are a strong young woman and this will always be a process. I commend you for honoring and recognizing that.

  4. alifeunmeasured

    I am so impressed with your attitude and honesty here. Your willingness to stay in today and forgive yourself is what recovering is all about! A slip is a slip. The fact that you’ve had SEVEN MONTHS is incredible. Your self-knowledge and understanding of what the eating disorder provides for you is awesome. I relate a lot. It’s been my identity for a looong time, too. I’m sorry you struggled last night, but you are getting back on track. Something I’ve really had to work on during recovery is taking the “meaning” out of everything. A slip doesn’t have to “mean” that I’m not in recovery and that I’m doomed! Just like being scared doesn’t have to mean I’m a coward or that I shouldn’t do something. Acceptance is key!
    Thank you for sharing your experience and you CAN have a better day today!

    • I really like what you have to say about the meaning of a slip. I always take a struggle like that to mean that all my previous work is erased and that I have to “start over.” Rationally I know that one slip doesn’t negate an entire seven months, but my immediate thought is that my recovery is ruined somehow. Like you said, I have to accept the slip for what it was and not give it so much weight, or meaning.

  5. I am so sorry this happened,my dear,but I also want to assure you this is absolutely normal. Relapses happen,and they shouldn’t make you question your recovery process because they’re part of it actually. The most important thing now is to keep fighting. To not give up.
    You are very brave to write this down and share it on your blog. It proves how incredibly strong your are indeed,so please use this strength FOR yourself and not against.

    • Thanks so much for your comment. I know relapses happen in recovery but in the past they’ve turned into full blown relapses, which is why I get so worried. I’m doing better today, though and I really appreciate your realistic approach.

  6. I am so sorry about what happened! But I’m with Jay on this one – one slip-up doesn’t undo all that you’ve managed to do, unless you let it. It doesn’t have to be a full relapse and I hope you won’t let it happen. YOU have the power to refuse the half-identity your ED gave you in favor of developing a full identity that is YOU. Yes, identity crises and development are hard. That’s probably why so many EDs and other mental illnesses crop up in adolescence, but it’s worth it. And you ARE strong enough. I believe in you πŸ™‚ If an alcoholic has one slip-up, it’s understandable that he/she’d be mad at him/herself. But that doesn’t mean that it’s all gone.

    I recommend that you read Carrie White autobiography, Upper Cut. It’s really long, but it’s interesting. She’s a famous hairdresser who got sucked into the hard-partying Hollywood lifestyle (and she had predispositions from an alcoholic mother and an abusive childhood) and ended up losing all that she had because of her alcoholism and drug addiction. At one point, she was living on the street, a homeless and haggard cocaine and heroine addicted junkie. She let down her family, her friends, her kids, herself – but then she fought and fought and fought and, after a period of fighting, relapsing, fighting, relapsing, etc. she finally recovered. Then, one night after she had gotten clean, she used heroin again (akin to your binge&purge yesterday). But she wouldn’t let it be like the other times when she relapsed, because she wouldn’t let herself let down herself and her family and friends again. And guess what? She’s more successful than ever and has been clean since that night – she never used drugs again.

    You can do it. HUGS.

    • Thanks for your kind words. I’ll definitely have to check out that book. You’re right that my ED only gives me a half identity, and less than even a half life, if we’re being honest about it. Thanks again.

  7. Danielle

    I never looked at you as a patient, but that is how I viewed myself while there and even for some time after. I slipped up once and all I saw was Gatorade and 4am vitals in my future and decided that wasn’t me anymore. It isn’t you either. Doesn’t define you, the person hiding behind all of that is. You are amazing and we are all still findng our way.

    • Yup, don’t like getting up at 4 am anymore. You’re right, we are still finding our way. There’s definitely still room for me to grow and learn and I need to keep that in mind. Thanks for your comment πŸ™‚

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