Recovery has been the toughest challenge I’ve ever faced. It’s been a long, long road. A road I’d never thought I’d be able to walk all the way down if I’m honest. A road, I’ve learned, that has no end. I’m not really sure if I can ever say I’ll be fully recovered because what I’ve learned is that bulimia imprints itself into your brain and body. Then at your weakest darkest hour, no matter how long it’s been since you started recovering, it’s always lurking in the shadows waiting for an opportunity to take hold again. A moment of unconsciousness. And if your’e not aware it will tease you back into its false sense of security and the cycle starts all over again.
I’ve been in recovery for nearly 2.5 years. I’ve had various forms of eating disorders for around 8 years previous to that. Prior to this disordered eating was all I had really known and I was obese until my early teens. I spent 2 years WANTING and TRYING to recover from this addiction and obsession that had taken control of my life and taken over me. It wasn’t until an unplanned pregnancy that I decided to keep, did I manage to slowly start getting myself together.
From my journey here is some advice that I believe can really help get you through the recovery process…
STOP DIETING. NOW!!!
And yes that does mean dropping the idea of becoming vegan, paleo or whatever ‘change of lifestyle’ you were thinking about too. I know losing control and/ or gaining weight is a deep fear when suffering with an eating disorder but any type of restriction is what’s keeping you in this binge/ purge/ starve cycle. You’re body and mind (your thoughts) are powerfully connected and work best in a state of balance AND they both respond to a diet the same way they would to starvation. You’re mind becomes preoccupied with thoughts of food, especially salty and sweet stuff as this will give you a quick release of energy, and then BAM!!!! It’s too difficult to fight nature and suddenly you’re shoving everything in the cupboard into your mouth, you feel so full you can’t stand up and you’ve either got your head down the toilet or you’re promising yourself you won’t eat for the rest of the day and tomorrow OR BOTH. The cycle continues… Honestly you will not be able to recover if you try to do it whilst restricting something. All you’ll do is obsess over whatever you can’t have and end up binging on it, the shitty thoughts about yourself won’t go away, you won’t lose weight, you won’t have the control you want and you won’t be able to live your life free from the fog of food and weight obsession. I promise you after a while of letting yourself eat the balance does come and you won’t deeply crave fast food or sweets or bread or anything anymore. You’ll settle at a place where you feel good and comfortable. You’ll be the most aware you’ve ever been. You’ll be able to really live. You’ll finally realise that trying so desperately to have control only meant you were the least in control you’ve ever been. You can’t fight natures instincts!!!!
Whilst going through recovery I was always recommended to create an eating schedule so I’d know what I was eating and the times for all my snacks and meals during the day remembering not to leave more that 3/4 hours between them. So basically a food diary or meal plan. It worked for a while just like all the diets I’d tried had but in the end it was all the same. Too much obsessing, too much trying to take control, too many rules. It wasn’t actually until my pregnancy and the insatiable hunger that came with it that I was forced to just eat! The hunger was immediate and screamed in my face when it came and if I didn’t listen I’d basically pass out. I picked nutritious meals, if I craved something I ate it, sometimes I ate too much, sometimes I ate in moderation and sometimes I’d have to eat whatever was around. I do believe that the extreme hunger was not only pregnancy hormones but my body trying to find balance and stocking up just in case there was a period of starvation again… like there always had been. I had no choice but to listen though and after I’d given birth my hunger settled and I had less urges, cravings and wanted nutritious food. Then 11 months into breastfeeding when I started cutting down the feeds my body started returning to its set point. I fell pregnant again 14 months postpartum. I know for definite that the intuitive eating that I’d learned over the course of pregnancy and after has meant that with this twin pregnancy I’m not as hungry because my body is confident it will get what it needs. Listening to your hunger cues does take work and time but remembering that focusing on your long term health and recovery will mean that real change is occurring. Yes, you may initially gain weight whilst your body is adjusting but it will eventually settle to a place you’re comfortable with. Most importantly though you’re MIND WILL BE FREE and there’s no better feeling than that my friends!
I don’t know about you but for me my exhausted mind is more easily led astray. When I’m tired I’m not really listening in on how I’m feeling, that’s when slip ups happen and I’m more likely to confuse an emotion I’m feeling with hunger and sometimes even mistaking tiredness for hunger. I do prioritise sleep as much as I can and that has really helped with keeping my mind in check.
Avoid alcohol and drugs
At periods throughout having bulimia I self medicated with smoking weed. I’m allergic to alcohol so weed was my vice and like most things I tried to help me through it only worked for a certain amount of time before weed would make it worse. My urges where stronger and my ability to rationalise the urge would be non existent. Food tasted better so what would often start as a ‘oh I’ll just have some gum’ would pretty much always turn in to a midnight walk to the corner shop to buy everything I could and then eat ALL of it. Even if drugs or alcohol does help you resist temptation (which I’m sure for 99% of you it doesn’t) you’d then be relying on something else to help you out of the cycle just to end up in another cycle of addiction or maybe both. Not saying you can’t do these things ever again but whilst actively recovering it’s more detrimental than helpful.
Social media cleanse
I actually think a social media cleanse is so important during recovery in this day and age. I came off of all social media platforms for atleast a year and Instagram for 3! I found the pressure to be perfect and have body goals and relationship goals and more likes than everyone else and showing everyone how much I was achieving and looking fly and being amazing was all too much. I wanted to be like the fitness models and hip hop honeys and fruitarians and lifestyle bloggers that had it all. I would spend my free time scrolling through pages and pages of ‘perfect’ people and screenshoting pictures to add to my thinspo/inspo albums and it ended up driving me mad. It’s all bullshit and if your head isn’t right you end up getting sucked into this fake world of perfection and pressure. In my opinion it only adds fuel to the fire when it comes to eating disorders, self destruction and self doubt. Not only that but there’s a whole crazy world out there on social media that encourages or acts as triggers to anyone suffering with mental health problems. Leave it alone whilst you recover so you’re able to see social media for what it really is. Then when you do jump back into your socials it may be possible to help inspire and promote self love which is exactly what I’m trying to navigate myself through now.
Recovery. It’s worth it AND it’s possible. It will be hard, it will be long and it won’t be plain sailing BUT it will be the best thing you’ve ever done and probably your biggest achievement. Reclaim your future, find out who you really are and learn to truly love yourself. You can do it. I know you can.
All my love x