Yesterday was an absolutely miserable day. I felt and looked like I had swallowed a balloon. I experienced serious urges to restrict and overexercise. And the cherry on top of this metaphorical sundae was that it was Friday, and that meant pizza day.
(Look at that cheesy, stretchy, greasy, intimidating goodness)
I was feeling really dejected and hopeless. I was on the verge of giving up on recovery. I felt gross, disgusting, and ugly. My self confidence was absolutely shot, and my body image was limping right alongside it. It was to the point where I wanted to close my eyes and wander around blind.
Finally, I reached my last snack, which was the dessert that I always dread. I slowly choked it down, not even stopping to enjoy the flavor of strawberries or chocolate. Then I went upstairs, and as has become an unfortunate habit, I examined myself in the mirror from every angle, with the sole intent of trying to bring myself down.
(I only wish I was as adorable as this ridiculously cute pug)
And as I stood there, staring at my distended stomach and makeup free face, my hair in disheveled curls that stuck to the back of my neck in the incredibly humid weather we’ve been having, I started to laugh.
(Figured I might as well pick this one since I’m desperately waiting to see the amazing new Star Trek movie)
Once I started laughing, I couldn’t stop. I kept laughing until there were tears in my eyes and my stomach ached.
I made the decision to find the humor in recovery, because I had two options.
- Feel depressed, dejected, and a whole other series of negative emotions, and feel hopeless about ever being fully recovered.
- Find the best in a difficult situation and remind myself that life goes on.
I must look ridiculous. I look like I ate a basketball. I’m walking around holding my back as if I’m some sort of ancient old woman. My arms and legs are completely disproportionate. I probably look more than ridiculous.
And there was a serious sense of empowerment in doing this. Last night I decided I wanted to challenge myself after such a trying day. So, still laughing a little bit, I posted a status promising that I would look in the mirror and tell my silly-looking self that I was stronger than my anorexia for every like I received.
Guess what? I did.
And guess what else? It actually helped.
The absolute insanity of repeating that sentence over and over and over and over (I’ll stop now) combined with the wave of empowerment that I felt by telling myself that I was more powerful than the most intimidating enemy I’ve ever faced was absolutely magical. I went to bed with a smile on my face for the first time in a long time.
Let’s be honest and candid, because there’s no two ways about it. Recovery from a restrictive eating disorder sucks. It feels like all your worst fears are coming true. You gain weight. You’re forced to eat food, which feels backwards and wrong. You start to resemble a pregnant lady, or the adorable frog in the featured image for this post. You feel nauseous, pained, and sad. And all you have is the promise of your supporters that someday it all will eventually be worth it.
Not that convincing, huh?
Why not make it a little easier?
Laugh. Laughter really is the best medicine. I kid you not when I say that yesterday was hell. I skipped a couple of snacks and eventually made up for them, despite the voices in my head screaming at the top of their lungs that I shouldn’t. I turned up the radio really loudly and bopped around my house for a little bit in a desperate attempt to feel like I was somehow moving. Lately I’ve just really been struggling, because where I am physically is so different than where I am mentally. This is the unfortunate nature of recovery: it’s a lot easier, both happily and sadly, to repair the physical damage you’ve caused yourself than it is to repair the mental damage. This results in the very common phenomenon of there being a huge disparity in the respective progresses you make.
So as I stood there in my matching UMass shorts and t-shirt (because I’m just that insanely proud of the school I attend, and I’ve spent way too much time in the campus store), with my hair making me look like I’d been electrocuted or something, squinting at myself in the mirror, I started to crack up. I absolutely lost it.
“Congratulations!” I told myself in between hiccuping giggles. “It’s a food baby!”
And once I started, I couldn’t stop.
You’re going to have awful days. You’re going to feel despondent and hopeless. You’re going to encounter lapses and mistakes. You’re going to feel like you’re moving backwards instead of forwards.
This I can promise you.
But guess what else?
I can also promise you that you will have wonderful days. You will feel happy and hopeful. You will overcome your desires to engage in behaviors. You will feel like you’re moving full steam ahead.
Why not make it a little easier on yourself?
So you feel like you’ve eaten enough food to feed an army. Laugh about it. So you have to dress in baggy clothes to hide your body. Laugh about it. So you have an abominable bloat. Laugh about it.
Just take a few, deep, calming breaths, and laugh.
Somehow, this makes it stop feeling like the world is ending. Smile, and remember that all you have to do is take this one step at a time. No one’s asking you to suddenly run the marathon without having practiced at all. Just one more meal. Just one more hour spent sitting with it. Just one more CBT skill. Just one more grin.
I promise you that you are beautiful, unique, lovely, and brave. So fuck your eating disorder. Stick it to it. Laugh right in its face. Embrace all the ridiculous horribleness of recovery with the joyful, happy sound of humor.
Stay strong. You can do it ❤