I think to most ‘outsiders’ eating disorder recovery is simply eating an adequate diet and being a healthy weight and that those things are as simple as that. I wish it was, I wish it was just a case of eat and be well. As well as the mental aspects that make recovery from an eating disorder very difficult I want to focus on the physical aspects.
When I was in hospital and going through re-feeding it was so much harder than even I expected. My stomach wasn’t used to food and I would have a constant stomach ache, painful bloating, constipation, night sweats. I often complained that I felt more unwell than when I wasn’t eating but I needed to do it in order to be alive and it didn’t last forever. As my body became nourished and used to food, the pain of re-feeding disappeared. It was horrible though, particularly as I wasn’t at home and able to have a cuddle and long hot bath. I just laid on my hospital bed clutching my stomach in agony. I never expected the physical obstacles, I thought I’d physically feel better and better and have more and more energy but it took a long time for my energy to return.
Mentally it is horrific too, most people with eating disorders will struggle with feelings of guilt in one way or another but by guilt it isn’t the kind of guilt you feel for telling a white lie or treating yourself to a new handbag on your husbands credit card. It’s feeling those calories crawling on your skin. Itching and bubbling. It made me want to tear my skin off and it would push me to extremes in an attempt to make it stop. One night I jogged on the spot in my room until I passed out and had to go to A&E for x-rays. It’s an overwhelming guilt that I’ve had to learn to deal with through distraction techniques. Guilt isn’t the only feeling, there’s fear and anxiety, confusion, so much but it can be overcome.
Re-feeding is vital, important and totally worth it. Life is there to be lived and enjoyed and I used to think that wasn’t possible but I am so happy in life right now and I’m glad I went through the pain and agony both physically and mentally because I am now able to live a life I want and enjoy.
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