Recovery isn’t a race.

I don’t think my hippocampus is back online yet. They get testy, and will sometimes go on strike when the world is stressful and the hits won’t stop coming. I’ve had so many hits, my soul probably looks like a patchwork quilt of impact craters.

On the bright side, I didn’t fall back on old and harmful patterns of coping.

Bad habits can be broken. Who knew?

I don’t have a word for how I feel about quitting smoking. If you’d have asked me two years ago, I’d have said quitting the demon weed was an impossibility. But look at me sitting here with a year and a half of cigarette freedom under my belt, smelling like not-an-ashtray. I suppose “gobsmacked” fits.

I’ve also held the line when it comes to my eating disorder recovery. I’m two years binge and purge-free and, knock on wood, going strong. I’m not even tempted (my recent kidney infection may have helped: nothing like intractable vomiting to make you opposed to vomiting).

I’ve become uninterested in pursuing the things I was once willing to die for. Makes me feel a smidge foolish for wasting all that time, but only a smidge. Things happen when they’re meant to, mostly.

I think quitting smoking was the easier of the two. One can give up cigarettes. One can’t give up food. Walking away from eating was part of what got me into this mess.

The inability to abstain from your drug of choice makes eating disorder recovery difficult indeed. And not just not-abstain: you have to play nicely with your drug of choice multiple times a day, and it doesn’t feel good. In the early days, it was difficult indeed. And for “difficult,” read temper tantrums, panic attacks, and refusals to comply.

At least I avoided the feeding tube this time.

I don’t like the incessant thinking about food that comes with recovery. Ironic, since with the eating disorder, you think about little else. Things were easier when I only ate microwave popcorn, lettuce, and diet Pepsi. Things were easier when I didn’t worry about other people worrying about my recovery.

The “no man is an island” thing isn’t that comforting when you’re wracked with guilt over the inadvertent harm you caused.

Recovery eating got better when I dropped the medication that had a caloric requirement (though that’s not why I dropped it). It got better again when we changed my antidepressant dosing: I shifted from taking a pill with each meal to taking them all together once in the morning. A certain schedule rigidity vanished with the change and losing the last of the recovery food rules made me feel light indeed (though there are still some eating disorder rules to deal with).

A recovery eating plan is pretty rigid. It’s three meals and three snacks a day. I also make sure I’m getting some of every food group, and I eat from the rainbow. I address problem foods and work to reintroduce foods I abandoned. And If you read that with an eye roll, you have the tone about right.

Prescriptive rigidity was probably necessary at the beginning, but recovery has to evolve. I’m ready to take the training wheels off.

photo credit: The Bridge to Recovery

From 2017.

17 thoughts on “Recovery isn’t a race.

  1. Sorry things are so tough especially with everything going on with your mum. You’ve done so well to not fall back on old habits, that takes so much strength and courage. Hope you’re able to celebrate that achievement even though things are tough. Praying for brighter days πŸ’–

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was struck reading this how in trying to lose my weight now, I’m having to implement a bit if what you struggled with. I had become mindless with food, you had become hyper-mindful. One if my frustrations last week was β€œI am so tired of thinking about food!” Learning to have the default be good and healthy choices without thinking too much about it, is the goal.Thanks for reminding me the mental work has to happen, and it us worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, but eating is more than a habit. Working out is far easier to change. Usually at least. I’m still struggling, but at least I have some reasons for that. I’m feeling good about things overall. I’ll get there!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so proud of how far you’ve come. I was several years purge-free but had a slip-up just before Christmas. Thankfully I haven’t binged in nearly a year. Then again, that’s mostly due to the fact that I have my staff lock away all my foods. I struggled with bulimic tendencies (not sure it was full-on bulimia) for years, but never got proper help. I do finally have a dietitian who understands now and indeed, I’m trying to do the prescribed rigidity. That’s pretty hard too, as at least during the first week or two it made me want to binge all the time. Then again, the foods I was prescribed to eat, were about 75% foods I’d avoided (I’m a picky eater too) until then. Now that the dietitian gave me food choices that I actually enjoy, the food plan is easier to follow. Anyway, thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m going to subscribe to your blog in my feed reader now and come back often.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. It’s a hard illness, not well discussed. I’m glad you’re getting help now from someone who understands. Eating disorders turn sufferers into “picky eaters.” Most people settle on a few “safe” foods, and that’s it. Stepping into variety has been one of my biggest challenges.
      I’m glad you stopped by.

      Liked by 1 person

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