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A MESSAGE TO YO-YO RECOVERY
A Message for Yo-Yo Recovery
TW: This post mentions eating-disorders
I don't think I will ever truly "recover" from my eating disorder. Even at a 'normal' weight (which is also pretty dumb FYI, I'll talk about this later), or if my relationship with food is better than how it was before, I will always have to battle the disordered thoughts, now hidden more deeply but still there in the cracks and crevasses of my thoughts. It's hard to get rid of those when it's been a part of most of my life.
I was diagnosed with anorexia after years of battling with it. I was diagnosed at my worst. The diagnosis consisted of a quick chat with my doctor and my yearly doctor appointment showed I was below my body mass index (BMI). I was never treated inpatient, and I chose not to go to therapy because I was visiting home at the time from college. I didn't have the time to establish a relationship with a therapist only to leave back to college and a busy schedule. I didn't want to go to therapy, and I didn't have the time. Depression really kicked my ass towards losing so much weight, too, there were underlying problems that I tried to address in a spur of random therapy visits at my colleges health care center, and that was all. What I had to do was just continue to go to check-ups while home at the hospital where they monitored my vitals and if I had gained weight or not. When I was above my BMI they said I was good and fine an well. Which is why I'm saying 'normal' weight is dumb, because eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. You do not have to be under weight to have an eating disorder, and reaching the preferred BMI doesn't make you 'recovered'.
I still had very disordered thoughts, and I still suffered for years despite not looking as sickly as I did that year. But due to having to deal with this on my own after being okayed by the hospital, I have dabbled in really weird disordered diets and thoughts on the way. And for a while I did think that I was doing better. I thought I was doing better when I started straying from just cardio at the gym and lifting weights and trying to be strong rather than lean. I thought doing better meant taking protein powders and superfoods and following vegan diets or 'clean' diets, which were very easy to due since I was still avoiding foods, I was afraid of before. I thought I was doing better when I started finally being able to eat in front of people and not feel judged, but I would diet the whole week to be able to eat in front of others 'normally'. It was going to be years ahead of me of yo-yo dieting and then tricking myself into not dieting, but just eating 'clean'.
Everyone's journey to recovery is different. I know a lot of people who swear that being vegan helped them recover. I understand that. But for me, that was still avoiding foods, and I thought it still help me stay thin. Thin would be above the line of my BMI and below the line of the weight I never wanted to be, even though above that line would still mean I was healthy and not overweight, anyway.
I call it yo-yo recovery. The first time this happened was when I got into weightlifting. But as soon as I started to gain muscle and look healthy, I got afraid of how my body was changing, even if it was looking really good and healthy. I relapsed into my disordered thoughts and stop going to the gym. I went back to my same old ways, and decided to lose the weight again. Later, I tried being vegan and all those superfoods, but I still did this to lose weight or maintain. After that died down, I ate whatever I wanted intuitively, but I wouldn't eat much for some days so that I could eat out with friends, and so I started bingeing because I was depriving my body of nutrients. Bingeing was terrifying to me because my whole disorder was about control, and I felt so out of control. I never thought I'd have to deal with bingeing, because I used to have such a tight grip on everything, and my eating disorder.
I still do this yo-yo-ing today. There're some days I have a good body image day and some days where I don't, so I don't eat much. There are some days where I can control my thoughts and push on, and sometimes I cannot. I'm a place in my life where I feel very in control of my eating disorder most days. I don't feel like I'm still recovering, I feel like I'm just taking each day on and battling any pop-up thoughts from the past of dealing with the disorder. But I still have unhealthy thoughts. I still sometimes think that I must smoke a cigarette after eating as if raising my heart rate burns more calories. I still look at some food as bad and some as good. I still think a protein shake is a meal somedays.
I think there are a lot of people who deal with the yo-yo recovery mindset. And I wanted to put out there just how unhealthy it is. It wrecks your body, maybe even more than just not eating did. I say this because of how much my weight fluctuates due to it, and how much my heart is put under strain because of it. Don't get me wrong, I knew I was so sick at my worst. I felt weak, dizzy, horrible, and unable to do normal tasks. My nails would turn blue when it wasn't even cold out and my bones hurt every time I moved or walked, I felt like I was falling apart, and I was. My hair was falling out, my face was crumbling away. But yo-yo recovery is like an invisible problem, where I feel that its more havoc on the heart. Especially if you also smoke or binge.
The best thing to do is still pursue professional help or try to be more intuitive. I never faced an important of recovery, which was my own feelings about food, and my own feelings in the moment. When recovering, I would take my mind away from these feelings by bingeing, like it would make them go away, or smoking, to distract myself.
Just because you are at the 'right weight' or look physically ok, just because maybe your hair has stopped falling out and your skin is glowing, and people are saying "you look so healthy" or you feel amazing eating a bunch of fruits and veggies and exercising, if you still feel like you're in a yo-yo phase of recovery or dieting or anything, you may still need to address the issue. I feel like I'll be addressing it for the rest of my life. It's a constant battle, I'm just a little physically stronger to fight it, but I still have to look deep into other issues that have hidden from me while I was trying to be physically recovered.
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