I don’t mind

I’ve been feeling a bit confused lately.

You see, ever since I started recovering from my eating disorder, I’ve been a bit obsessed with food. That is to be expected and is a common occurence among sufferers of EDs of all kinds, especially those in recovery. (You need to rediscover food, after all.)

This obsession was quite difficult to manage initially, because I would read food blogs all day, every day and stare in awe at all the beautiful photos – photos of food that I had denied myself for a long time. This led to me becoming quite resentful towards one family member, who kept telling me to eat “normal food”, which to them meant bread with butter or pasta and similar things.

I thought that if I had to eat, I should at least be able to eat food I really liked, meaning green smoothies, salad, whole-grain toast with coconut butter – predominantly healthy things.

Not a bad thing per se, but it meant that I never did give up control of my eating habits entirely. Again, I’m not quite sure if this is a bad thing; all I know is that I still have a problem with people telling me what to eat.
I can “go with the flow” when I’m, say, at a friend’s house or eating at a restaurant, but if a family member tells me to eat (or not eat) this or that, a simmering anger bubbles to the surface.

I’m not particularly good at managing anger – it was the only emotion I felt when my ED and depression were at their worst; searing, irrational anger that I could do nothing about – so I do explode sometimes. I know I’ll regret it after 20 minutes – as fierce as my anger is in that moment, it never lasts – but I can’t help it. I’ve finally built up a wall that prevents me from internalising my anger and I am happy about it. I just need to find a way to let go of the anger.

“That’s interesting and all, but it doesn’t quite explain why you are feeling confused,” I hear you thinking, and of course you are correct.

The reason for my confusion is this:

A few weeks ago, everything I’ve detailed above – the obsessive thoughts, the resentment, the prickling undercurrent of dormant anger – suddenly faded.

I didn’t feel the need to check the kitchen to get an idea of what I would be able to eat.
I didn’t mind having a piece of toast for breakfast instead of my usual beloved bowl of porridge.
I didn’t slip into the particular pattern of restrictive eating that tends to make itself at home in my brain when I don’t eat for several hours or skip a meal.
I didn’t care about the sugar content of the occasional snack I was given.
I didn’t push myself past my limits when exercising, just close.
I didn’t linger on destructive thoughts after overeating.
I didn’t browse food blogs with nagging suspicions of disordered eating behaviour poking me in the ribs, I just didn’t browse them at all.

… and I don’t know why.

Rewind. Relapse?

I recently thought about how very ironic it is that I, probably one of the world’s most impatient people, make my readers wait for months between blog posts.
I would apologize, but I’ve done that so often already and I probably won’t become a dedicated, dependable blogger in the near future so I’ll just congratulate you on your spectacular patience. I wish I were as dedicated to blog reading and writing, but I’m not. There’s a grand total of three blogs I read regularly, and I don’t even keep up with every one of their posts.

“So,” you’re probably wondering, “if she hasn’t posted anything in months, why is she writing this post now?”. Good question.

The truth is that the most urgent reason why I’m typing this right now is that exam period is fast approaching and I’m frantically, desperately procrastinating.
The other less urgent but no less valid reason is that a lot has happened between the last post and this one.

For one thing, there has been a change in the thyroid situation (see here and here for previous posts on the subject) – I switched to a different brand of levothyroxine, was prescribed 150mcg by my new GP and switched back to taking it in the morning. I feel a lot better and I believe it’s due to all of the above. I sleep better and subsequently feel more rested, I have more energy and I feel less depressed overall. The change has been significant enough that I’ve felt comfortable with taking up running again, and that’s improved my mood as well.

Another thing that has happened, that has been happening for quite a while now, is that I’ve very slowly slipped back into disordered eating. It’s not too obvious yet, and nobody noticed, but I’m very glad I caught myself. I am constantly ill at ease with my body, but I’ve managed to hold the disordered eating at bay for the most part… until now.
When I suffered from anorexia nervosa, I was the restrictive type – I did restrict my food intake, but I generally based my restrictions on the type and not the amount of food. I didn’t even count calories until I was taught to do so in inpatient treatment.
This is important because I now struggle with this – I don’t restrict foods as strictly as I did before (though I still don’t eat certain foods) but neither do I restrict the quantity… and that’s the problem, right there. I have major issues with portion control, which stem from my particular pattern of disordered eating. I am perfectly comfortable with not eating anything for 18 hours (from 8pm until 2pm), I won’t even be hungry, but I balance this with eating too much in the afternoon/evening. Now, you might think that this is something similar to ‘intermittent fasting’, which many people practice with great success, and you would be right. For me, though, this pattern is destructive. I’ve already caught myself feeling guilty about listening to my brain and eating something around noon a few times, which makes all kinds of alarms go off in my head.
There is some beautiful irony in this whole scenario, which is that this behaviour was never as strong as it is now, when certain members of my family are denying me certain foods (which they deem ‘weird’ and ‘not normal’) and rather strongly encourage me to eat what they believe is normal food.
It makes sense, of course – their behaviour leaves me with the distinct impression of having to hand over control of my eating habits, which I am not comfortable with at all. This is due to my eating disorder, yes, but also to the way I eat – vegan, high raw diets demand a certain level of mindfulness to be balanced and nutritionally adequate, which I am very aware of.

For now, I manage. I feel okay physically, I make a conscious effort to avoid thinking about food too much (it’s working quite well so far) and I just downloaded Recovery Record, a brilliant (free) app that offers support to people in recovery (get it here).


As it is currently the last day of #NEDAwareness week, I encourage all of you to reflect on your eating habits now and then – even if you have recovered successfully, relapse is always a possibility. If you know someone who has suffered, is suffering or might be suffering from an eating disorder, offer them support and help them get the help they need.