I’ve been thinking about how alienating talk about recovery is when you’re sick (or even when you’re in recovery).
When you’re utterly exhausted and broken by an ED the sunshine and rainbows and inspirational quotes land of recovery seems so bizarre and unachievable. And twee and kitsch, to be honest. Even when disabled by depression my inner voice is quite snarky and cynical.
So, if you’re like me you have to model your own personal recovery.
One big point I’d like to iterate: Recovery is not returning to the way you were before.
Before is what spawned the ED. Before wasn’t working.
For me, before the ED was a traumatised childhood and a teenage years of gender dysphoria, bullying, untreated PTSD and OCD and general horribleness.
I can remember my legs collapsing under me when I tried to go to school because I was having some kind of hysterical episode. I remember crying every damn night over my maths homework which I couldn’t understand even though I’d stayed up till midnight with my parents trying to help me with it. I remember being raped and telling the school councillor who looked at this (severely underweight) queer teen from a working class background and a poor area and said sex with older men at 13 was normal and I should “grieve for the loss of my virginity” then get over it. What the everloving fuck? Gah!
The above isn’t just a cathartic info-dump of my woes. No, really. It’s a description of my Before. Oh yeah, there was good in there – I had a cat I loved, I got some good grades and met a few people who accepted me as I was. I enjoyed rock music and travelled abroad. It was cool. But I wasn’t OK. I was a traumatised child not equipped to deal with life. Oh boo hoo cry me a fucking river etc etc
SO….OK. Conclusion: Recovery is NOT about resetting myself to the state I was in before.
Instead, recovery is about finding a new way to live. A new way to be.
And I’ll be honest, I don’t know what that is right now but I’m working on it.
I feel like a child who never got the chance to test themselves in the ways which matter. I feel like a child who craves safety and nurturing. And no one but me is going to provide that. I have to find a way to give that to myself.
The only advice I could offer anyone else is: Be fucking brutal (at least as brutal as anorexia) – cut out those parts of your life that are hurting you and keep only the OK bits. While seeking to add new parts that are more healthy and rewarding. Keep the good bits and throw away the garbage. Anorexia is part of the garbage. Self-hate is part of the garbage.