I have a healthy weight for my age and height. I eat a fairly wide variety of foods. I don't like my body but I'm dealing with it. I'm almost entirely behavior-free.
Can I just say how much the above freaks me out?
I was talking to the T about it, and she said that the above does not make me recovered. I must have had a pretty baffled look on my face because she said: How long would it take you to fall back into the anorexia? Full force.
One week. Two, tops.
Well, there's my answer, I suppose.
My body is clearly not anorexic. I'm no twig. In fact, I think I could lose some weight and still be plenty healthy, but that's beside the point.
Then again, maybe it isn't.
My brain has recovered somewhat from the anorexia-induced malnutrition. But the years and years of AN thoughts and behaviors are going to take more than 3 months at a healthy weight to fix. Seven years vs. three months. It's kind of obvious that it's going to take longer than that. This is the really really shitty part of recovery, where body has healed long before the mind. I look normal. I sound (fairly) normal.
All cured, right?
I still think I look like a giant warthog, I still have trouble deciding what do I want to eat, I still want to lose weight. This is not a cure.
Recovery is definitely a process. I've known that for a long time. Weight restoration is the mandatory first step. However, if it's the "first step," that kind of implies that there will be more. A lot more. Things that are much harder to navigate. Gaining weight is simple but not easy. It's the kind of eat-more-calories-than-you-burn equation, only the effed-up version of it. Because when recovering from AN, my already quite efficient metabolism went through the roof and I found myself needing to consume large quantities of food, a process that made me hungry and full at the same time. That would be difficult for even a healthy, normal person. It's confusing as all hell.
But then my metabolism has settled down somewhat, though I still need plenty of food to maintain my weight given my current activity level. My organs are still healing and being repaired, even if weight isn't being added. And so on.
Yet there is the analogy to chemical dependency here. As the lovely Sarah over atRecovery Rodeopointed out, you can get rid of the alcohol, but you can't get rid of the -ism.
That's true with my brain, with the anorexia and the OCD . I don't restrict or purge or wash* just once. Nuh -uh. It rapidly cycles out of control. I wouldn't say that eating disorders are an addiction per se , but there are plenty of similarities. Especially because chemicals, alcohol, starvation, bingeing and purging all change your brain chemistry. Specifically in a way that makes you almost dependent upon the said chemical change. Starving dulled my anxiety. So did my OCD rituals. I would imagine that would be the same for someone using chemicals: it helps you function, however temporarily.
Then it spirals out of control and you're totally screwed especially because you stop recognizing that Houston, we have a problem.
I believe, I really want to believe, that true, full recovery is possible. I know people who are no longer plagued with ED thoughts, who like the way they look. I hope that one day I get there. But my brain will always be only a week away from anorexia. If that. It only takes one hop on that scale, one missed meal, for me to be back in that deep hole.
This scares me, maybe in a good way, but it scares me nonetheless. And maybe that's what I need to keep me in recovery at this point: a good healthy dose of fear.
*In the obsessive way, that is. I do wash my hands after using the restroom because that's good hygiene. I also shower regularly. I'm sure you're all glad to know that.