Submitted Date 02/18/2019

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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  • David Ross Washington Jr 2 years, 1 month ago

    You do not have to be under weight to have an eating disorder, and reaching the preferred BMI doesn’t make you ‘recovered’.
    This is so important to note. I remember not knowing this, and researching years ago to see that you can have an eating disorder and not be underweight. We really need more publication out there making people to be aware of this, so they can seek solutions if they do in fact have an eating disorder.

  • David Ross Washington Jr 2 years, 1 month ago

    "I’m just taking each day on and battling any pop-up thoughts." "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," <- This! I'm so happy you posted this article. For one because I believe it will help you in your journey of getting to a better place for your mind and body, and for two, because I can relate. I was actually diagnosed with Gastritis almost 7 years ago. It's an intestinal disease, basically inflammation and acid reflux of your intestines, I have it in my esophagus (Esophagitis), and duodenum (Duodenitis). I can't eat 90% of foods I used to be able to eat, and at the time I was already on my lifestyle, so imagine not even being able to eat 90% of the actual healthy foods either. I was already struggling with my relationship with food of fear of not wanting to be fat/overweight again, and other things. But after that, I had to change my diet against drastically. Because of this, and some depressive periods, I've lost interest in eating like that. The other factor is due to gastritis, you can't eat big meals, and big meals to gastritis can be a normal/moderate size meal. Even when I eat smaller meals, I bloat. So having irritation to lots of foods, one minute the food is okay, next minute it's not, bloating all the time, etc., made me not interested in eating like that. This is horrible when you've went through yo-yo dieting period (gain weight at home - it would randomly happen even when eating the same and working out, then lose weight at school). So now my weight fluctuates a lot. I'm trying to get control of it, but it's hard, but I know I will make it through. Thanks for sharing your story and battle with it. Much needed.

  • Miranda Fotia 2 years, 1 month ago

    I am right there with you on this. One thing that has helped me think about food in a more positive way is to make sure I always eat 3 vegetables and 3 fruits a day, in addition to protein at every meal, and drink 8 glasses of water. It helps keep me satisfied and healthy so I am less likely to binge eat. No matter what my size, I have always been able to find fault with my body, but as I get older I find I am beginning to be kinder and more accepting of my flaws. I hope you eventually get to a place where you can be more accepting of yourself as well. It's so upsetting to spend so much time obsessing over food and body image issues.