Sit Back. Relax. Relapse.

Today is a very emotionally charged day for me. While I’ve attempted multiple times to write about some of these topics I can’t seem to have the words flow like I’m used to. So here are some things in point-form to help me get started.

Things I know to be true:
– Almost six years ago I was diagnosed with an eating disorder
– Three years ago today I was given an updated diagnosis of remission
– I’ve been relapsing on my disorder for at least 6 months (that I am aware of)
– Yesterday I got a tattoo to symbolize my journey with my disorder, and that it is always on going, and to remind myself how far I’ve come
– My tattoo will also serve as a starting point to be able to talk about my disorder, as I need/want to be better about having this discussion. My disorder is not something I want to be ashamed of.
– Today is mother’s day, and I am not a mother nor will I be a mother by this day next year. This is about the 4th year I’ve wanted to be a mother on this day and I am not
– While I understand that logistically if I wanted to be a mother that I could just do it, I find it has not been that simple for me, as I want to make sure I can properly care for a child before I bring one into this world. But perhaps I am waiting for some magical point that will never come and I’m running out of time
– I also fear that almost 20 years of having an eating disorder has altered my body in such a way that I will never be able to carry a child. At this point it is my greatest fear.
– Most of these points I haven’t told a soul about (save BF, who held me as I cried after watching a movie last night that highlighted almost all these points about my disorder)

My first attempt to write this involved me looking back, month by month, explaining what had happened and how it affected my disorder. In essence, justifying my slip back into the disorder. I don’t want to do that. Ultimately I can say that I reached back to previous coping mechanisms to help me through some difficult times. I’m not proud of it, but I did it, and I recognize it for what it was. The second attempt to write about it I wanted to talk about an important point of my recovery – how I was so eager and desperate to hit that recovery milestone that I focused only on what I needed to do to get there, that is stop the behaviours. In that time I never truly addressed the symptoms of my disorder, so while I have survived through some stressful situations without a relapse, the right cocktail of stressors occurred for it to be the natural slip for me. Again, right or wrong it is what happened. My only option is to carry forward.

In a way I’m actually grateful for this relapse. It has shown me what holes really existed in my recovery and has allowed me to figure out when they are triggered, and when the trigger is so overwhelming that I give in to the behaviour. It has also shown me the behaviours which are habits, so ingrained that I blindly walk into them without knowing why. And I am grateful for knowledge because it allows me the opportunity to stop myself and check in (like last month when I saw a diet/workout app that I almost fell into).

I’m trying to be better about looking ahead, and there are some awesome things on my radar for the future. The trick is trying to be smart and responsible about them, and I need to bring that same mentality to my recovery. My plan for moving forward is more checking in with myself, catching behaviours and asking myself why, and actually going back to my workbooks from group to re-introduce some tools into my life to help me move forward (like thought records, and food logs).

A lot of my world has been food-centric for the last little bit, to where it’s constantly on my mind and I’m acutely aware of food around me and when it’s next coming near me. It’s an almost near-obsessive thought narrative that has made it hard to focus on anything else. It is easily the most maddening part of this relapse because thinking about food can be enough to feel those panicky flutters. This coming year I want to focus on maintaining a better relationship with food – it’s not the enemy, and it’s not just fuel (though all food is still fuel and it’s okay to think that as needed). But I want to work on not being scared or intimidated by food, to enjoy the process of it, to not worry about certain types of food. Could my balance of food types be better? Sure. Is it something I need to worry about changing immediately? No.

Today is fraught with emotion, but whatever I’m feeling is in relation to things of the past. Whatever decisions or actions I’ve taken has lead me to this point, and this point of my life isn’t bad (it’s actually pretty good). So whatever comes next is what comes, and I will meet it head-on with the wit, sarcasm, and unflinching nerve I’ve shown my entire life. The best I can do is plan my plans and adjust as needed. I’m grateful for all the supports I have in my life and I’m ready to see what this next recovery-adjusting year brings.

~ J

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