Friday, April 18, 2008

back and forth. forever.

[i apologize if you know what the title actually comes from. take it for the meaning of the post ;)]

there has been a question going through my mind for quite a while, now. it started screaming at me when a met a girl that came into my life and, finally, kc hit me with an e-mail suggesting i blog about it without even knowing it had been lingering around me for a while.

the question: does full recovery exist??

don't lie to yourself; we've all wondered at some point or another. so, what's the answer? are we destined to go back and forth the rest of our lives, having Ed taunt us every now and then, whether or not we resist? what measures recovery?

first of all, yes, i believe full recovery exists. i also believe that even if you don't, you need to pretend you do because you can only do as much as your mind believes is possible.
i had to deal with the question, "how is this time going to be different?" many times from friends and family who watched me get my spirits up and hit rock bottom again and again. especially after going into residential for close to a month and a half and walking out feeling like i was on top of the world. my weight was up to it's highest ever and i had all the motivation in the world. how could people believe that there was an end when i came crashing down within weeks and ended up right back in resi?
i felt amazing. i felt healthy. however, i decided to keep it in the back of my mind that my eating disorder might always be there and i would have to deal with that. the important part was knowing that i had the skills to deal with whatever feelings and urges might arise, and that's what kept me in recovery. i accepted the possibility that i might relapse once in a while for the rest of my life and that that was ok.
what made this time different? this time, i stopped accepting that my life would always have disease lurking in the background and started training my mind to prepare for a life without numbers holding the control, or at least thinking they have a say in everything i do. as i always told my groups, your mind only knows as much as you tell it. if you keep telling yourself the same things, even if you don't believe it, the mind will begin to ingest that information. we can train our minds to believe anything. i am living proof.

there are two sides of recovery: physical and mental. physical is obvious; recovery includes maintaining ideal body weight, as determined by your team, good labs, eating well (including eating things with no real nutritional value once in a while), etcetera.
mental is a little more complicated. mental recovery comes with ultimate radical acceptance, having solid coping mechanisms, letting. go., realizing what life is really about... i'm sure we could all go on and on about what makes mental recovery. it also depends on the individual, as most things do.

so, if we have to ask how we "measure" recovery, it's not there yet. you just know. mentally, i know i am done. there is not a single molecule inside of me that questions the content of food other than, "i need protein... yogurt would be good" or "i need chocolate... i'm gonna grab a pack of ring dings." (i fucking love ring dings.) when i'm frustrated or angry, my eating patterns don't change. numbers aren't flying through my head all day and i only think about food when it is time for a meal or snack. there is no tiny voice in the back of my head that even tries to sway my decision... he's dead.

it is possible, and don't you dare let a single soul tell you otherwise, no matter how many years of medical experience they have. just know that it takes trust, it takes honesty, it takes breaking your own rules and boundaries, and it takes hard work. but if you've been in it, you know how much work it takes to hold on, too. working on recovery gives you much better results for your productivity.


Whit said...

I know that you don't know me, but I came across your blog and wanted to thank you for your last post. I often times wonder if things will ever get better and if they do, if they will stay better. It really encouraged me and gave me hope that maybe one day I will be recovered.



KC Elaine said...

another inspiring post. I like the idea of preparing your mind for a life w/o numbers. accepting that you may ocassionally relapse something you still do or only used to do?

emmy. said...

oh no, used to do. if i expect a relapse, i *will* relapse. it's not like i don't know how i would handle it if it were to happen, but it's not an option. it's over.

Michelle said...

what do you consider the difference between full recovery and recovery? If I am in recovery from an eating disorder, vs. I am fully in recovery...would that make me recovered?

emmy. said...

full recovery = recovered, yes.

Kales said...

I believe in full recovery. I just want to know how long it takes. It's so frustrating fighting this everyday. Some days I see more hope, but other days it seems like it will not go away.

emmy. said...

unfortunately, kale, there is no set time. some people, unfortunately, never even get to fully recover. it is such an individualized situation, obviously. some people have their ED lingering throughout their whole lives, some people recover after 10 years, some people recover after only a few. recovery didn't seem possible to me until this past october.

i'd be happy to talk to you more if you need. my e-mail address is on my sidebar.