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10 people who handle eating disorders share what recovery means to them



It is easy to assume that recovering from an eating disorder – poof! – implies that harmful behavior or negative thoughts and emotions are over and the person never has to deal with them again. But as with any other mental illness (be it depression or OCD ), recovery from an eating disorder is not black and white. The recovery story of each individual and even his definition of "recovery" is unique and personal.

As society is slowly working to understand that eating disorders concern more than thin, white, cisgendered women it is also important to realize that eating disorders can vary greatly from person to person also affect the recovery path. People may be in different stages of recovery, moving nonlinearly between these stages.

Recovery for a person at a given time may look like a reduction in the frequency with which they practice restrictive behaviors related to their eating disorder. On the other hand, it may mean that they have stopped the behavioral habits, but still work on their emotional aspects. Rest also does not mean perfection or complete absence of relapse . As the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) states, "Slips, relapses and relapses are the rule rather than the exception … Overcoming nutritional concerns and concerns during recovery is a key goal, but it's far from the only task of recovery. "

Just to show how many shades of recovery really exist and how subjective it is, the SELF asked 10 people to share their experiences with malnourished nutrition, and what recovery really means to them now.

. 1 "While recovering, the voice of my eating disorder has become quieter and my own voice louder." – Alicia, 24

"Since childhood, my relationship with food has always been a tension," Alicia tells SELF. Growing up in a larger body, they experienced significant bullying. They also dealt with a variety of medical issues that led to their spending years of medication. At one point, Alicia's doctor suggested she lose a lot of weight to help with her symptoms. "There began my experience with eating disorders," they say. After achieving this first goal, I did not feel like I could stop. The company had promised me that if I lost weight, I would be happier, no matter how much I lost, luck never came, "they say. Her anorexia eventually turned into bulimia.

In 2015, Alicia began to investigate treatment programs. "However, since it is a gender-based program, the programs were very cheap and did not promote my recovery," they explain. Instead, Alicia sought support from online peer support groups and an independent psychologist.

"I do not think I'll ever consider myself" recovered, "they say." I explain my eating disorder so that I have a voice in my head. "When I was at my lowest level, it screamed and drowned During my recovery, the voice of my eating disorder has become quieter and my own voice louder. "Although Alicia believes the voice will always be there, they turn to their partner and best friend when they have a hard day "I'm currently living my best life, and for me that's the place I always want to be."

2. "It took almost three decades to get here, and it's not perfect, but it's worth it. "- Raquel, 28

Raquel's family called her" gordita "(in Spanish" chubby girl ") or" Quelly Belly "as a child, but when she returned from Puerto Rico to the United States at the age of five "I quickly learned that fat is too ugly, dirty should be ig and inferior. These cute monikers started to feel like attacks and I wanted to distance myself from them, "she tells SELF.

She started to feed at the age of 8 or 9, but it never occurred to her that her food was disturbed. "I was a lush, low-income Latina girl from the middle and after every appearance of eating disorders I saw growing up, you had to be a white, middle-class passionate girl obsessed with models and haute couture" she explains.

When she was 20, she started therapy. And today, eight years later, she occasionally cleans. "Intense pressure or hardness are definitely a trigger for me," she says. However, she often uses self-quieting practices such as dancing, singing, or spending time laughing with loved ones. "It took almost three decades to get here, and it's not perfect, but it's worth it. Recreation vale la pena "she says (meaning" it's worth it "). "Just because I'm never" recovered ", whatever that means, does not mean that I can not lead a healthy, happy and loving life. And I really believe that I'm living this life right now. "

. 3 "Full recovery does not seem to be absolute, meaning I am free of any eating disorder that is thought up every single second." – Sarah, 36

Sarah tried to recover for 17 years. Often they confined themselves and had orthorexic behaviors for extended periods of time, only to beat for a few days before returning to restrictive eating and repeating the pattern.

Yet they were never diagnosed. "I think that was mainly because of my size . Nobody thinks that a fat person who limits or is obsessed with pure food is a negative behavior. No one believes that a fat person who loses significant weight is unhealthy, "says Sarah SELF. "Our culture usually praises and congratulates this behavior." It was only when they sat down to eating disorders in a graduate school class that they realized that they had been dealing with an eating disorder of some sort for almost two decades.

Over Over Over These Years Sarah Overeaters used Anonymous, an individualized therapy and retreat for body and mind to seek help. "The withdrawal [at age 34] has really changed my view of recovery," they say. "Complete recovery does not seem to be absolute, meaning I am free from any eating disorder that comes into consideration every single second. Sometimes I think that's what it means. I do not think that this is realistic for people who deal with discrimination and prejudice on a daily basis. I am a big, fat person. Every day I see glances, comments and the world is not designed with respect to my body.

Sarah seldom thinks of limiting, purging, or bingeing, and continues to work with a therapist who is queer and trans-friendly . "Mostly I accept my height completely. On other days, when I have to deal with really obvious types of discrimination or barriers to access that others do not, I do not have to agree and wish my body would be smaller, "they say. "Does that mean I'm involved in behavioral disorders in eating disorders? No, it's very much to do with the culture we live in."

4. "Recovery is a daily struggle, and though I may not" healed "I can, I can be stronger than the voice in my head." – Lakesha, 27

When the stress and the pain of getting into nursing at 9 years old grew too much, Lakesha began to annoy at night continued when she was staying with her family members and cycled at age 16. In 2010, she took part in an outpatient program, mainly for her other mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder Borderline Personality Disorder PTSD She realized that she also had an eating disorder, but she feels that the treatment team did not take it seriously, "because I do not fit into the profile of a person having an eating disorder because I'm black and gay, "she tells SELF. Eventually, the therapist she worked with turned to Lakesha Eating Disorder for her other illnesses and became the trigger for her recovery.

Today, at the age of 27, she sees herself in recovery. "I see things on a continuum, not a goal," she says. "Recovery is a daily struggle, and though I may not be" healed, "I can be stronger than the voice in my head." She adds that thoughts and "thinking" are the hardest parts of recovery. "The thoughts about my body, about the food and about my value, which are tied to it, have quite a grip," she says. In addition to writing and sharing her work on Instagram, she continues to see a psychologist and asks friends, family, and Facebook for help. "If I fight, I win, and if I win, I will live," she says.

. 5 "There are days when I feel nostalgic about my eating disorder, but in retrospect, this was the lowest point of my life." – Olivia, 23

After a serious car accident in the summer of 2017, Olivia was depressed. "I've tried to bring my life back under control with food and exercise," she tells SELF. What began as a restriction, shifted to bingeing and later extinguished itself. In November 2017, she entered a residential treatment program and later switched to an intensive outpatient program.

"Compared to where I was last year, I am a million times happier and have a much better relationship with the food," she says. "I consider myself as well-rested as one can really be with this disease "She no longer apologizes for not eating out with friends or attending events where food is served. If she is tempted to take control by restriction, she turns to sport, which she can now do in a healthy way, and relies on her family and close friends. "There are days when I feel nostalgic about my eating disorder, but in retrospect, it was the lowest point of my life," she says. "Today I am in a much better place in almost all areas of my life."

6. "When I understand certain patterns and truths about myself, I have the power to accept and care for myself instead of punishing myself and trying to escape my body." – Marissa, 32

A formal diagnosis confirmed at 19 what Marissa already knew: she was struggling with anorexia and bulimia. But only about four years later did she begin to make real progress in recovery. "I decided that I wanted to get better. I learned more about myself and what initially led me to the disorder, "she tells SELF.

Writing her book Starving in Search of Me helped Marissa realize that her disorder was nothing "Understanding certain patterns and truths about me has enabled me to accept and care for myself instead of punishing myself and trying to escape my body," she says, "which I actually mean I was struggling for my identity and sexuality, coupled with social anxiety. "

Although she feels recovered from the eating disorder, she still experiences problems with the anxiety and body image of self-care habits to manage these things "In any case, I still have a lot of irrational shame about my sexuality and want my body to be" more masculine "or androgynous, that's what you say after that years of conditioning in a hetero-normative society, "she says.

. 7 "There are still times when I see a diet ad or a handsome celebrity and his fitness regimen, which I think of when I start dieting again." – Rebecca, 36

Rebecca has been fighting with her body image for about 10 years. "I knew it was bad to be fat, and being small and skinny was good," she tells SELF. "I've often tried to be anorexic, but anorexia nervosa was not my eating disorder. I liked to eat too much. "She started cleaning at the age of fifteen and continued until mid-30 when she was" ready to deal with bulimia, "she says. With the help of a psychiatrist, a dietician and Prozac, she sees herself as healthy today.

"I no longer feel the need to binge and cleanse. The permission is the hardest part – in recovery you must be allowed to eat all kinds of food. And as I controlled my anxiety with medicines and therapies, I was able to tolerate more and more of these "forbidden" foods, "she says. "And if something is not" forbidden "anymore, that's just normal."

She admits that recovery is not a straight line: "There are still times when I see diet advertising or a beautiful celebrity and her fitness that I think about feeding again," she says When Rebecca is still struggling with the body image, she writes, meditates and practices yoga and gratitude. "And I tell myself that I love each other at least once a day, I know, I know, it sounds cheesy, but that's what it does me and it works for me, "she says, also paying attention to whom she spends time with." I know now that I can not hang around with people who do not love their bodies and express that openly, it's not healthy for me, "she says.

. 8 "I do not think [my eating disorder] will magically ever disappear. I am not cured of it. I can do it day after day. "- Melissa, 33

In her early 20s, an emotionally abusive partner Melissa said she was fat, in need of a gym, and not naked. "I went on a diet to prove it wrong – and it got out of control of an eating disorder," she tells SELF. After a good friend had expressed her concern, she sought help from her family doctor and a nutritionist, in addition to the SSRI operates.

Today she works on eating disorders and body image and considers herself in recovery. "I do not think [my eating disorder] will magically ever disappear. I am not cured of it. I can do it, day after day. It is not a perfect process. It's not like recovering from the flu where you get sick one day and then one day getting better, "she says. "I now see my eating disorder as a disability, a chronic illness, something that brightens and flows, something that flares up. And when I acknowledge this aspect, that relaxation is less about perfection and more about management, I can have more compassion for me going through this journey. "

. 9 "I am firmly convinced that one day I will be fully recovered." – Lexie, 23

When Lexie tried to recover from bulimia as a teenager, her behavior changed from cleansing and restriction to eating disorders. for emotional food. "Binge eating felt like a comfort, and the cleansing felt like a release," she tells SELF.

Today she sees a therapist on a weekly basis and finds that stress, anxiety, or the feeling of being overwhelmed feel the urge to binge and cleanse. "Recovery has taught me to be more self-conscious, so I remember that using these behaviors may seem like relief at the moment, but they are also a band aid. The short-term relief will have long-term consequences, "she explains.

She is currently unable to afford a dietician or a support group in addition to her therapy, but relies on friends for friends or amusing music and fun shows. "I'm still recovering, but I'm convinced that one day I'm fully recovered," she says.

10th "I have a really incredible relationship with my body and my food. I am thrilled that I am at this point. I can not believe that sometimes it is the same person. "- Caroline, 35

From 11 to 21 years old" I had a cocktail with eating disorders, "says Caroline to SELF. She saw everyone from therapists and eating disorders specialists to acupuncturists and nutritionists. "I had physical access to recovery, but I had no emotional and spiritual access," she explains. "It was the choice to recover and to stay, which kept me in recovery."

She is now fully recovered for 14 years, which means she no longer desires to deal with behavioral disorders in eating disorders. "I have a really incredible relationship with my body and my food. I am thrilled that I am at this point. I can not believe it's the same person sometimes, "she says.

But she does not deny that body image problems can still creep in: "I'm in this body for the rest of my life. I will have feelings, feelings and thoughts for the rest of my life, "she says. "I can only deal with a flare of the body as I think about what my feelings are. How can I show more presence in my body? Do I need more personal care, do I need more ice cream? It is not in my wheelhouse to hurt me to cope with life. "Instead, she gives her body whatever he tells her what he needs.

However, she stresses that is her view Recreation is not the only way to recover. "We need to create room for the expansion of recovery. It is possible to recover every day and not fight, "she says. "And it's equally important for someone to challenge themselves daily to survive. There is no answer and no way to restore. We have to be able to support each other.

If you or anyone you suffer from disordered eating wants to suffer, contact the National Eating Disorders Association (USA) hotline at (800) 931-2237 or National Information Center for Eating Disorders (Canada) at (866) 633-4220.

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