Thoughts and Contemplations - Life after ED. What is there? Who am I?
Posted Dec 01 2009 3:04pm
I find this is a common line of thinking amongst some of my friends that are also fellow ED recoverers.
" Who am I without the eating disorder?" You are still you; just different. And, this is a normal process. I am different to who I was when I woke up; and, I will be someone different in the morning. There is a sense of loss as the eating disorder becomes less and less prominent in your (and my) lives. For the duration of the disorder, whether it be months or years, it was all consuming, it became our identities. At least for me. As much as I hated to be seen in the weak and fragile light it felt like that was who I was. But, even if it felt like that was all that you are, those other facets to your personality were never totally eradicated. They just lay dormant after being pushed from the stage (by the eating disorder).
In a way, recovery is a chance to make a "new you". Rather than get sucked into the feelings of emptiness and despair, relish the chance to start anew. I discovered many new talents and interests as well as a few dislikes as I began to create a whole Keira. I can bake and cook, I love to crochet, I prefer quiet night's in with a good movie to a crazy Friday night in the clubs.
"What is there?" The world. Without the chains of an eating disorder and the limitations they place on me, I can try anything. I have a great job babysitting/Nanny-ing. I am studying a really fascinating degree with plans to go onto further postgraduate studies. I have adopted a totally adorable kitten named Gherkin (photo below). I have all these great things and it wasn't until my outlook changed that (a) my life began to fill with positivity, and (b) I could appreciate them.
Initially, recovery felt stilted, fake, and removed from real life. I'd have to be monitored an hour after meals (or do an activity for an hour while at home), I had a strict meal plan with strict times. I had limitations and "distraction" activities. Nothing like what I had pictured life to be. And, I admit that this got me down. I was scared that this was to be my life... A sort of half-life filled with schedules, rules, and on constant guard for relapse. How was that any different to my eating disordered life? apart from saving (rather than killing) my health.
But, this was only a temporary stage. And I think it's important to recognise that. When you are malnourished and deeply enmeshed in the ED world you don't function efficiently. It affects you on a biological level and the rules are there to guide you. I wouldn't trust a bus driver to take control of a bus if they hadn't slept or was drunk. So, how can you expect your brain to take control at that point either. The rules are there like medication to return homoeostasis. And while some medications are a permanent thing, others are there to return health and then stopped, like antibiotics. It allows you to regain strength so you can do what's needed automatically (Like eat regular meals and not react impulsively to urges) and thus giving you the energy to get on with the more pleasurable phase of recovery—building a life inline with your core values and beliefs. you don't have to change the world, end war, cure cancer, discover extra-terrestrial life... as long as you are you then that's a purposeful life.
Life after ED is a crazy adventure but you can't enjoy it to the full unless you are ready to leave the disorder behind.