Part 2: “normal” lifestyle? (I realize that word is different for everyone, but you know what I mean). Thanks for all that you do, we love you around here. Sending *you* love and strength as well!
I’m so sorry to hear that you’re struggling, but SO proud of you for reaching out. That took a lot of strength and courage and is something you deserve to be really proud of yourself for.
As someone who knows several people who have battled their eating disorders for 20, even 30 plus years and managed to recover or significantly decrease their behaviors, I can tell you with absolute certainty that it IS possible to retrain your brain, change your thoughts, and find abstinence from restricting.
Restricting may be how you operate right now, but it doesn’t have to be the way you operate forever.
The reason your body doesn’t respond favorably to certain foods is probably because you’re not used to eating them. Restricting completely throws off your metabolism and damages your internal organs. Because you’ve been engaging in behaviors for so long, normal foods and normal eating is going to be really uncomfortable.
Your body however can heal and you CAN relearn how to eat. The refeeding process is painful, but given time and consistent nourishment, your body WILL regain it’s hunger and fullness cues and comfortably be able to tolerate food.
The fact that you gained weight isn’t a result of eating. It’s a result of prolonged and excessive restricting that has slowed down your metabolism. Now that you are eating more, your body is holding onto it because it’s expecting to have to go a long amount of time without food.
I promise you that if you consistently feed your body and stop restricting that your metabolism will normalize and your body will find it’s healthy set point weight.
In order to retrain your brain and find freedom from the eating disorder, you have to seek help. I have never known anyone who recovered from their eating disorder without therapy and/or treatment.
The fact that you recognize you have a problem is a huge first step. The next is scheduling an appointment with a therapist who specializes in eating disorders.
The thoughts and behaviors surrounding food are only the surface problems of an eating disorder. In order to recover, you have to tackle the underlying issues—experiences that include trauma, rape, physical or emotional abuse, unhealthy family dynamics, abandonment, or feelings of insecurity. Issues and wounds that cannot be healed just by eating or getting to a healthy weigh. Recovery requires breaking the silence, seeking professional help, going into the dark places of our past, reaching out for help, identifying the thoughts, challenging them, and finding new ways of copying that aren’t self-destructive.
I also really recommend seeing a dietitian, preferably one who specializes in eating disorders as well. Working with a dietitian is so important because even though eating disorders aren’t all about food, eating and challenging your food fears is an essential part of recovery.
Eating doesn’t get easier just by talking about your feelings—it gets easier when you eat.
Group therapy could also be something really helpful for you. It would give you the opportunity to connect with other people fighting your same fight, allow you to hear other peoples’ struggles and triumphs, and provide a safe space for you to talk about what you’re going through without feeling judged or misunderstood.
The fact that you reached out is proof that you’re unhappy with the life you’re leading. It’s evidence that a small part of you wants to get better. Hold onto that part of yourself.
And most importantly, hold onto hope.
Know that you aren’t alone in your fight and that things can and will get better.
It won’t be easy and the road to recovery will be long, but as long as you don’t give up and pick yourself back up, no matter how many times you fall, you will heal.
Sending you so much love,
About The Movement:
My name is Daniell, and I am the creator of the Internal Acceptance Movement (I. A.M.)
Need support? Have a question?
The Internal Acceptance Movement is an online space that advocates self-acceptance, healthy body image, recovery from self-destructive behaviors and addictions, and the acceptance of all people, regardless of what they look like, who they identify as, what they have been through, and where they come from. I. A.M. is a space that offers support to those battling their inner demons and strength to continue fighting when all hope seems to be gone.
I. A.M. represents the idea that as human beings, we aren't defined by anything external, such as our weight, appearance, body shape, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, clothing choices, income, occupation, or background. But that instead, it's our internal qualities--our character and attitude, our passions and dreams, our soul and spirit, our heart and capacity to love, our goals and morals, and the way in which we treat others--that are truly self defining.
Whether you're battling an eating disorder, self-harm, alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, PTSD, low self-esteem, anxiety, self-hating thoughts, poor body image, or any other mental health condition or self-destructive behavior, I. A.M. exists to remind you that you are NOT alone in how you feel or what you're going through; that it's okay to not be okay, and that you don't have to face this pain alone; that things can and will get better; that healing and recovery are possible; that there is nothing wrong with who you are; the who you are is enough; and that you are deserving of happiness, love, and acceptance, always.
I'm here if you need me: whether it's support, someone to vent to, a question, or you just want to say hi--know that this is a safe place and that you aren't alone. If I don't respond immediately, know that I'm not ignoring you. I will message you back at my earliest convenience. If you have an emergency or feel that you want to hurt yourself, please, please call 911. I'm not a therapist or a mental health professional of any kind. If you're in danger, you need to ask for help from people who can adequately support you. Sending you love: Daniell