this has been a topic percolating in my mind for some time now. and since i have 20 exams to grade and three final projects to work on, it seems like the ideal time to write a blog post.
anybody who has read the literature regarding eating disorders knows that some of the statistics are downright terrifying.
Seventy-seven percent of individuals with eating disorders report that the illness can last anywhere from one to 15 years or even longer in some cases. It is estimated that approximately six percent of serious cases die. For many others, there are long-term, irreversible consequences which can affect one’s physical and emotional health. Up to now, only 50% all people with this devastating disease report being cured. (mirasol.net)
read that last sentence again. fifty percent. only half of the people who ever have an eating disorder will recover completely. and in all honesty, i wonder if that’s an optimistic number. for many of us who have walked that road, we spend years wondering if this is something that we will, in some way or another, deal with for the rest of our lives.
so how do you know? how do you know if and when you’re there? when you’re really, truly recovered, as opposed to recovering?
i look at my life now, and am 99% comfortable saying, “yes, i’m there. i’m recovered. done deal.”
i have zero clue how many calories i ingest on any given day (although yes, i ballpark my protein intake). while i work out in a relatively intense and serious way, it is in no means for calorie-burning purposes. hell, if it ain’t running, i want nothing to do with cardio any more – let me lift!
i cannot for the life of me remember that last time i got light-headed when standing up – this used to happen to me multiple times a day.
i have a regular period (TMI). my bloodwork is clean as a whistle. the fact that i’m running with not even a hint of shin splints or hip pain tells me that i’ve successfully rebuilt the bone mass i lost during all of those years of undereating and overexercising.
but yet…when i’m in crisis, the first thing i want to do is allow myself to waste away. when my emotional stress level gets extraordinarily high – really, when i’m around my dad and his girlfriend and missing my mom and feeling backed into a corner because i can’t say anything – i somehow find myself purging in the shower. every time, without fail.
i am 99% recovered, in my day-to-day life. i am strong and healthy and well-grounded in reality.
but when the going gets tough…my eating disorder slips back into my life with the silence and ease of a wisp of smoke. and it fits itself into the crevices and spaces that i need filled in that moment.
and in that moment, i am once again recovering. i am, in those moments, a work in progress. i become part of that half who never fully recover. who will always be just a little bit fragile; just a tiny bit broken.
maybe, then, i will always have to stay slightly aware, remain quietly vigilant. there is no moment of destination, no flashing sign, no X marked on a map to tell you that you can finally let your guard down. when you choose to travel this road – the path to recovery – you do so knowing uncertainty is inevitable. there is no perfect recovery, no one path. one size doesn’t fit all; one size fits one. that’s what makes recovery so damn hard – it’s also what makes it so rewarding.
you have to forge your own path. it will wind and double back and it will have potholes and pit stops. but what keeps us on that path is the hope that we will, finally, some day, be There. that we will look around and realize that we have made it – we are Recovered.
but until then, we have to just keep. on. moving.