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    Last month, I shared that I was marking one full year since leaving North York General's Adult Eating Disorders Program.  Today, I wanted to write a bit about the challenges I've faced since I recovered and what I do to ensure that I don't again fall victim to the eating disorder mindset.  
     The most difficult part of my post-recovery life is continuing to accept my recovery weight.  I have learned to trust that I am meant to be in the body that results from a structured (or normalized) eating pattern, however, it's not easy when your weight is significantly different than what you were used to in your sick days.  More often than I'd like to admit, I can't help but find myself feeling fat or even envious when I have to stand by and watch my friends participate in the latest fad diets (juice cleanses, carb-free, meal replacements, etc).  Normalized eating does not allow skipping meals, calorie counting, eliminating categories of food, and consuming diet foods.  Do you know what it's like to be a girl nowadays and not be able to diet?  It's become the new form of female bonding and almost a status symbol falsely signifying self control (newsflash: the food is controlling you).

      Unfortunately for me, I literally became too good at dieting and like recovering alcoholics who have to abstain 100% from alcohol, I can no longer diet - not even a little bit.  My friends and family know that fact and it sometimes leads to another problematic issue: living with the stigma of having had an eating disorder.  If I leave a piece of cake unfinished or say that I've already eaten, I am self-conscious because those around me that "know" tend to start seeing red flags.  They have every right to be worried considering what I put them through in the past.  I still carry the burden of that guilt with me so I do the only thing that I can to make it up to them: continue my commitment to normalized eating.  
      Although it's okay for others to deliberately over-exercise in order to lose weight; when I lace up my runners, I have to be honest with myself and only go to the gym when the goal is to make my mind happy - not because it might make my body skinny.  Dieting and reducing/eliminating "bad" foods is not my version of healthy - it was the root cause of my eating disorder.  The weight that I am now allows me to live a life free of depression, social isolation, low self-esteem, and low-energy.  When I feel inadequate because I can't bond with someone over the latest food I'm denying myself, I soothe myself with the reality, "You've gained weight but you've also gained life. It's worth the trade-off".
 

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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