Happy Monday folks!
Today, Feb 24th is day numero uno of Eating Disorder Awareness week.
To start things off, I am sharing some writing which gets into what “post eating disorder” life looks and feels like. It feels fitting to share a glimpse into my perspective to start this week of posting off.
For the remainder of the week I’ll be sharing about navigating the grey areas of recovery, fitness/exercise/movement, the stages of recovery, how to support someone, “de-stimulating” the nervous system, and more. If you have a topic you’d like discussed please reach out to me and I WILL cover it.
*Disclaimer: If you are currently struggling with or in recovery from an eating disorder or disordered eating, please read this post with your own self care and needs in mind.*
I could write about all the things I put my body through when listening to the voice inside my head.
All of the ways I destroyed myself.
Each of the maladaptive behaviors.
I could lay out the laundry list.
Instead, I’m going to tell you about the experience in a broader scope.
Eating disorders suck.
By that I mean they suck the life out of you.
Literally, figuratively, every possible way.
My life from age 11-20 was devoted to shrinking myself:
physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
I DID NOT WANT TO EXIST.
I wanted to disappear,
I believed from a very deep core level that there was something innately wrong with me.
This goes deep.
I am over six years in remission.
I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to get out of the rabbit hole.
I’m not saying it’s easy.
I’m not saying it feels like sunshine.
More like thunder and lightening and stars all wrapped into a bow made of thorns with sunshine at its ends.
The neurocircuitry of an eating disorder is always at least partially there.
For me, it ebbs and flows.
At this point it’s pretty far back.
Almost as if I stored it in the attic, in a box, with a lock.
I need something extremely stressful to bring the darker thoughts forward in my brain.
When they do come up they’re either a) shut down on instinct because been there, done that, or b) question it and see what needs some tlc in my internal world.
A & B feel safe now because I’ve developed effective strategies to process through the feelings.
This takes time and patience and sitting in fear and discomfort to cultivate.
Now at 26, I can face a thought or a trigger if it pops up in daily life and respond “you are not serving me”,
and let it go….
because it’s not mine to hold anymore,
it never really was.
The things that were once triggers are always there in some capacity no matter how minuscule.
Thoughts do on rare occasion escape the box.
The brain remembers.
The pathways have been formed.
I prefer to use the term “remission”.
Because, for me –
I think of an eating disorder as something that is chronic but that you can heal from and not directly experience in life.
That 11-year-old Sarah is still inside of me.
The inner child work to heal from this all is incredibly important.
The past-triggers and thought patterns are important to acknowledge.
And the things that are related to my having an eating disorder such as body image and self-loathing are also important to acknowledge.
I would never say I have perfect body image, I don’t think anybody does.
But I don’t mirror check or weigh myself 3+ times a day anymore.
I don’t own a scale.
My only mirror is my bathroom vanity mirror.
I COULD own a scale or a bigger mirror, but it doesn’t add value to my life.
I’m not emotionally and spiritually destroyed because of how I look in a picture or feel in my clothing.
My daily food intake isn’t determined by the latter.
I see myself. I feel my body in space.
I am me. I am living, breathing.
I have a body.
I don’t know if the self-loathing will ever go away either.
It’s something that is continuously given space and worked through as much as possible.
When I have more internal chaos and angst,
it’s a sign to take a good look at life and ask myself if I’m living in alignment with who I really am…
And to be gentle with the answer.
Chaos is the biggest cue I’ve found to pre-determine a trigger getting to me on some level.
Self-loathing comes during times of chaos.
It’s a signal I respect and do my best to work with.
This whole experience is a process.
The process is different for everyone going through it,
just like the purpose the eating disorder served is different for each person who experiences one.
For me, I have found that I feel the strongest in my remission,
have the best body-image days,
experience the least self-loathing:
when I am following my own path,
acting in a way that feels deeply aligned with my soul and my being,
I’m honest with those I love and myself,
and I’m contributing to the healing of others.
It’s finding what feels right.
The voice inside that wants to see me grow.
Strengthening the brain pathways that support the good.
Reducing the strength of the brain pathways that say the grass is greener in wonderland… because it’s not.