R ecovery is a process-a long process. It requires an enormous amount of strength. There are tools which I utilized that empowered me to do battle with anorexia. I acquired these skills through instruction from therapists, nutritionists, as well as reading material. The decision to utilize them was my own and was made after painstaking contemplation of my situation. I was terrified not knowing what lie ahead for me, but I knew what lay behind, and I did not want to continue on that course.
S o, for the first time in my life, I trusted others; I relinquished control. It was a brave act, leaving me feeling as though I was a child. I cried and begged my therapists and nutritionist to promise they would not make me fat; they promised, and I chose to believe. Trusting they would honor their end of the bargain, I allowed them to structure my meals and weigh me without disclosing their findings. I did whatever they instructed; I even stopped exercising.
M ake no mistake; I was miserable. I was angry and frustrated. Anorexia's voices bombarded me with accusations of being a traitor and a failure--abandoning who I was. This assault drove me out of my mind, but I continued employing tools that would eventually clear my mind and offer peace. I devoted as much perseverance and willpower to recovering as I did maintaining starvation.
B elow are tools I relied on to cope each day. Just as the voices of anorexia take time to mature and take hold, so does the healthy voice of recovery. Its ideas are foreign--incomprehensible, but the more it is allowed to be heard, the stronger it becomes. Accomplishing this requires counter-assaulting anorexia's voices with healthy messages. I would scream these messages at times in order to stop the negativity pounding my brain.
|Negative Message||Healthy Message|
|If you eat, you will get fat||The nutritionist promised I wouldn't|
|Everyone is lying to you||Why would they? For what purpose?|
|People are watching you fail||I am not failing; I'm getting healthy|
|Your body is getting bigger||I can not rely on my view of my body; it is not reality.|
|You are nothing if not anorexic||I will discover who I am|
|You are selfish||Doing what's healthy for me is not selfish|
|Be jealous of the other anorexics||I will not be jealous of being in pain|
|If you want to feel better, don't eat||I have learned other ways to find comfort|
|Don't worry, you can go back to not eating whenever you wish||I am working towards never abusing myself again|
T hese are just a few examples of the manner in which I fought anorexia. No matter what its voices threw at me, I countered with a healthy message. I am not saying it was easy. Initially, I responded out of rote memorization of suggestions offered by therapists. My healthy voice was a mere whisper. Gradually, it became stronger and had conviction when it spoke. This was due to my realizing my value as human being. I was discovering Marcia.
T he true test was when I returned home and was without twenty-four-hour-a-day support. I was afraid I wouldn't be strong enough. I continued to counter anorexia's voices. Being home posed different problems with the opportunities at hand. For instance, home had mirrors, a scale, measuring tapes, laxatives. Home had choices. I approached this dilema with healthy responses. I learned what things were detrimental to recovery and avoided or eliminated them. I did this not to comply with therapists but to give myself the best shot at becoming healthy. I was experiencing joy in my life and knew it was a direct result of my recovery efforts.Wanting more of this wonderful feeling, I...
|Disassociated myself from those having a negative influence on my life||Threw away laxatives and enemas||Put away my scale and measuring tape||Gave away my "skinny clothes"||Avoided mirrors and looking at my body, reminding myself my perception was distorted|
|Never excercised or ran about the house after eating||Spoke to others of my feelings||Followed a meal plan (Even ate butter!)||Meditated||Ate at set times whether I was hungry or not||Rewarded myself with things I discovered I enjoyed||Kept a journal close by to record feelings and moods|
K eeping a journal was a fundamental part of my recovery. When I found myself not wanting to eat or thinking I was a "fat pig", I would stop and examine my feelings to pinpoint what was creating my negativity.
R ecovering requires very deliberate actions. It demands constant attention. It involves making choices. Every element of my life was under scrutiny during the initial stages. Family and friends did not understand what I was experiencing; how could they? I did not have the energy to make them understand, and I did not feel the need to either. My husband tried; he listened to me and attended a support group for families of anorexics.
T oday, I continue to employ the techniques I used to recover. Although I am no longer anorexic, I am human! It is human to doubt yourself, be apprehensive, and have a bad hair(and rear)day! Everyone experiences fluxuations in weight. Menstruation causes water gain, and seasonal changes affect our bodies. The point is not to equate these changes will self-worth. I choose to concentrate on the changes within myself. Every day I grow; I learn things about myself and the world around me.