An ode to the recovered(ing) anorexic

I’ve been thinking a lot about my life lately.    I try not to dwell in the past, but I was sort of forced to as I wrote about my whole journey from child hood to now, in my  workbook called “Beautiful Freedom”  which includes my story of recovering from an eating disorder(to be used for my new, online support group- read about it here and consider joining!)

As I reflect, I feel like I got a bit lost in the shuffle in between the time of gaining my weight back during my eating disorder and becoming a new mom.

Let me explain.  Many of us go around putting on a happy face, pretending everything is okay, right?  I think when we have an eating disorder, we get used to pretending like everything is okay.  Either we don’t want others to know how we are feeling, or how serious the disorder is, or we are trying to please people.

If this habit is ingrained, it does not stop once we gain our weight back.  I actually recovered, in the clinical sense, really quickly.  I started off with anorexia, got treatment right away, started gaining some weight before it went into bulimia and because I was purging with laxatives and not vomiting, it was pretty easy to gain the weight back.  Now, I did have my moments of temporary starvation a few times after that, especially around the time of my wedding in December 2000, but for the most part, I looked healthy to other people. I was pretending that all was okay.

But in the inside, I was dying.  I went back to hating my stomach and my butt.  How I looked was all I could think about.  It  affected my social life, and even my relationship with my husband.  In my mind, I was not recovered at all, even though I was eating just fine.

I also did not want to feel like a victim (because we are not), so I refused to go to those 12 step programs or anything of that nature.

I felt like I was the only one who hated my body, at least that I knew of.   After I had my children, I figured that most of the new moms already got their stomach back, so they had nothing to worry about.   I did not want to admit that I hated my body for fear that others would have pity on me or remind me of how far I came from the eating disorder.

Here is a photo that I took of my belly, back in 2005 a few months after having my daughter.  I was particularly bloated on this day and I hated how I looked pregnant. This is what led me to want a tummy tuck, which I decided against in the end.  (Thankfully, I know now that the bloating was partly due to gluten intolerance, which is helped by eliminating gluten)

August 9, 2007 100_2

Here is a photo of my daughter and I on her First Birthday.  On the outside,  I was smiling, but on the inside, I was wondering how my stomach looked to other people.  Little did they know obsessed I was.

Briana's party edited

Maybe you can relate.  Maybe you had an eating disorder 5, 10, even 20 years ago, but you feel lost in the shuffle.  No need for deep therapy or 12 step programs, but you still struggle.  Perhaps you have bouts where you still see food as the enemy. Or maybe like I did, you went from anorexia and bulimia, to eating emotionally, without purging.   I do still eat out of stress, though I know that it’s common (and dare I say, necessary at times?)

Perhaps, you are confused about how to eat because of  all the mixed messages out there.  Even those who never had eating disorders are confused, but I would imagine even more so for us.  We were taught (or at least I was) during recovery to not worry about calories or fat grams and just eat whatever we felt like eating.   I remember my friends celebrating my willingness  to have Taco Bell with them.   Taco Bell of all places!  Shock! Horror!

I remember bashing all of the fad diets- especially the Atkins diet, which has thankfully died out.  So at least I had the common sense to know which diets were the crazy ones.

But then I would run into well-meaning people talking to me about how this diet helped them lose weight or feel better.  Every time that happened, I felt less than adequate because I was no longer restricting my food.  It made me feel like something was wrong with me.

Then there is the whole issue of “moderation”.  What is moderation to one person is totally different to someone who has had an eating disorder.  Imagine someone who usually eats three small meals a day- say, an orange for breakfast, a salad for lunch and chicken and rice for dinner.  They already struggle with wondering if they ate too much– or too little (yet still feel fat) and hear the media talk about moderation- – so what is moderation for them?  half an orange, half a salad, and only chicken for dinner?

I do not say this to bash anyone- but to give a glimpse of the life of a “recovered” anorexic or bulimic.  Figuring how out to be “healthy” can be a full time job.

 Most importantly, if this sounds like you- I urge you to FIND SOMEONE TO TALK WITH.  No, it does not have to be formal therapy.  Sometimes just finding a friend who can relate makes all the difference in the world. You are NOT alone!!  There is *no* shame in admitting that you still hate your body.  AND you are WORTH having someone come along side and listen to you.

Lastly, I want to encourage you to consider talking with myself.  I am a health coach and I call myself a “Body Love Specialist”.  I have since come a long way in how I see myself.  No, I do not adore the shape of my body, but I do feel sexy and confident on most days and I do not obsess about what I look like in the mirror.  Most importantly, I love who I am as a PERSON.  It’s still baby steps, but I have been on the road toward self-acceptance and I desire that for you, too.

This upcoming online group was tailored for YOU! .  And if you would rather just talk 1:1, I am available for that too.

I am building my business around my passion- which is encouraging women to find a peaceful relationship with their body and with their food. I know it does not take just a short program to get there– heck, it could take a life time to get to that point, but at least you know you are not alone.  I hope to hear from you!

To your peace,

Kellie McGarry, CHC

Visit my website: www.nourishedandnew.com

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4 thoughts on “An ode to the recovered(ing) anorexic

  1. Hey. I’ve had an eating disorder for over 3 years now. I’m trying really hard to recover. And yes, I do relapse into bulimia every once in a while and I hate my body more often than not. But I want to host a body image workshop for the younger girls at school, I don’t want anyone to end up like me. I just read your blog and you seem to know about this… could you give me any advice? And PS: I think your picture with your daughter is lovely. Take care!

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