A loooong and windiiiiing roooooaddd…

Sometimes I don’t know whether to write about things or not, because my brain is ever-moulding itself and making new connections, leading me to re-think thoughts I had before, re-forming them into new theories and ideas. We are biological entities and our brains work like that when we give them sufficient energy. In recovery, my brain is re-inventing itself! How fancy! I feel confetti should fall from the sky…

Everything is falling into place magically when in recovery. It’s weird how that happens to me. I’ve had such a long, winding and difficult journey that I feel it’s deserved that things are working out. My consciousness can’t quite believe it sometimes, because there is a print on my brain: that of failure and difficulty. Whenever something good happens, I am kind of taken aback – can things really work out? I don’t quite believe it. But things can and often do work out. Especially when you really want them to work out. I really really want them to work out. I want to be out of the misery that is chronic malnutrition. I want my appetite back.

See that shift there in my last paragraph. I don’t talk about my ‘ED’, I talk about chronic malnutrition. This is the brain-moulding I am talking about. Because, dear reader, I am trying out this new cool thing in recovery. It’s called ‘owning the fact that you are a biological being and that if you don’t eat, bad feels aplenty’. I am, since yesterday, re-conceptualizing my illness as chronic malnutrition. Now, this may not work for everyone. When I was a youth and ill the first time round, I wouldn’t have known how to spell re-conceptualization (actually, my English was already on point then so I totally would’ve, but you get my point). But now, this new thought/action experiment may be just the thing.

Many people tell me ‘I can do it’, ‘I am so capable’. It’s because I am a fairly smart cookie. I have been to enough therapy, enough peer support groups, enough education, to be in a better shape than I have been when I was very ill. I am also a very talkative, outgoing person who loves to give a hand to others and has a fine tendency to overdo it in the field of helping others. It’s cool, totally selfish motivations: helping people makes me feel good. When I am talking to people, having conversations or partaking in a stimulating activity, I forget that I need to eat. Eating simply doesn’t cross my mind when I am having fun. Someone has to remind me! I used to always just think ‘oh, there that illness is, coming up with any excuse to not eat’ and this did not help my recovery. It made me think I am still under the thumb of the illness, and that nothing will make it let go of me. It made me think that what I was doing wasn’t what I wanted to do, it was what the illness wanted to do. This is part of what I call ‘recovery panic’. Panic about the illness hijacking you back into the darkness again.

I have a terrible tendency to want to do every imaginable interesting thing in the world. There are not enough hours in the day! I find it difficult to find hours for eating, because there are more interesting stuff happening. Eating kinda becomes a job but as a busy bee, I enjoy working. A colleague at the board of my association, and someone whom I idolize heavily, works as a registered nutritionist, helping among other client groups, those with ED behaviours. She says ‘eating is a skill you can learn’. I am a trainee in the field of ‘eating sensibly and enough’. Sensibly in this means making healthy choices, eating different things, eating a bit of everything, not denying yourself of any food group (foods containing fat etc.).

The world is full enough of disordered behaviour relating to what is a basic human need we cannot and should not fight against. Food! Enough of it! Nutritious food! Yay! It’s normal and nothing to be afraid of.

Jeezo, it pays to eat enough. I am returning to my senses because I have re-started my careful project of correcting my state of malnutrition. It was shaky for a few days as I was pining for my boyfriend and suffering from unemployment-related stress and thus completely lost my appetite. But oh man I am happy now, for I am back on track and accelerating to flourish (to quote my dear friend and spirit animal J Murray).

I guess what I am currently wondering out loud is whether it might be good, to someone like me, at this stage in my particular recovery journey, to spend time with folks who are recovering from non-ED related malnutrition. I might find that they have had similar dark thoughts brought on by malnutrition to what I had. I might find that they had those thoughts, yet, no magical beast called ‘ED’ existed in their head. This is not denying I am not recovering from an ED, or that EDs don’t exist. Symptoms exist, feelings, thoughts and behaviours exist. Does it matter hugely what names we give them? I don’t know. What I do know though, is that what matters is lessening my suffering and recovering from this bitch of an illness, whatever one may call it. And any which way I can help myself do that is fine by me and worth a try.

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