What Took You So Long?

One of the questions I get most concerning recovery is, “what took you so long?!”

Yes. What did take me so long to actually decide I wanted a life free from restrictive eating, incessant hunger, exhaustion and emotional instability?

There is no easy answer to explain why I remained so stuck in destructive patterns, but one of the main components has to do with the fact that I didn’t believe my lifestyle was bad.

I thought that exercise and watching my calories was admirable. After all, if you turn on the television for even five seconds you will see an ad for some new diet product or exercise machine, or a commercial for a show geared around weight loss.

If the rest of America was striving to be thin, then my habits were near perfect!

Obviously this is wrong because my weight plummeted, my health deteriorated, and my social life fell apart, but in my mind, everything was going just fine.

When my family and doctors first told me I had to go to a day program I reluctantly agreed because I was honestly sick of hearing about it. I didn’t actually follow my prescribed meal plan. I still ran on a daily basis. And I was a champ at fudging my way through therapy so I could get in and out of the office as quickly as possible without creating a fuss. I actually liked my partial hospitalization because for the first time in a while I had friends! There were 20 other girls surrounding me who totally got it! They understood me, had similar interests (albeit unhealthy interests) were relatively close to my age, and we had fun at meal times! The scenario wasn’t half bad.

And then the day came when I was called into the doctor’s examination room, to see a stern-faced physicians assistant, my individual counselor, and the nutritionist.

I was being sent to inpatient; leaving the very next day.

I still liked the social aspect. I have made some really great friends throughout my stints in programs, but I was the patient who totally complied with everything on the surface, and behind closed doors disobeyed every rule in the book. I exercised in the bathroom, I smooshed around my peanut butter to make it look like I ate the whole thing but really probably had half. I accidentally spilled my drink, negotiated other food choices…you name it, I tried it.

So although it may appear that I have spent three years in recovery, my estimation is that I have only actually productively worked the process for a few months; from the time I decided to actually take it seriously.

So what changed?

Well to start, I admitted I needed help for my bad decisions, and out of control lifestyle.

I would have to say it took me until I went to the Healthy Living Summit in August to make this decision.

I was partially on board before that, increasing my meal plan in very small increments and understanding that walking was an appropriate form of exercise for my current state, but HLS, and a few incidents that followed, gave me the kick in the rear I needed to move forward.

My motivation was solidified when I received a brutally honest comment from a reader.

I have mentioned this a few times on my blog, and I am so thankful to say the person who made the remark and I have had some really great correspondence since, but her powerful words and truth about my physical appearance were eye-opening.

I wasn’t aware that people viewed me in such poor health, or that I was being a total hypocrite writing about working toward becoming healthy, happy and whole, when all the while I was almost faking my recovery. (Please note I never intended to be a phony or a liar by any means, I was simply in denial….very deep denial)

But when I really analyzed what this person wrote to me, I was seriously bothered by the fact that I was deceiving others.

You see to me, the best part of blogging comes when I receive comments, e-mails and feedback from readers, saying that me writing about my experiences helped them through their own tough times. What I neglected to consider was that although my words were heartfelt, my actions in my own recovery were not necessarily congruent.

I was still very much living within my disorder.

So after some serious re-evaluation I took a good look at myself, my life, and what I wanted for my future.

What were the things I valued? And how do I live keeping all these things in mind?

Then I looked back at the last three years spent in and out of treatment facilities, or just merely existing, physically, visiting awesome places, working, and trying to be a good member of society, but I was never actually functioning to my potential.

How did I go from an over-achieving student, athlete and whole-person, to being a walking skeleton, merely going through the motions on a day-to-day basis?! And why the heck hadn’t I thought of this stuff earlier?

Like I said, there is no real answer to this question. The bottom line is, I had to come to my own realization, and acceptance of recovery.

The three times I was “sent away,” none of them were really my choice. I went either to appease my family, or because I no longer had the legal right to refuse. I enjoyed partial programs and outpatient centers because it was easy to cheat, I made friends and I didn’t really gain any weight, but I never took any of my treatment seriously, or followed through with the plans teams set out for me.

It took ME, making a conscious decision that I wanted a life consisting of more than hours in a gym, a tiny waist, and numb feelings, to make healthy, recovery based choices.

No one could tell me I had to. No one could tell me I should. I needed to tell myself. I needed to do it for myself. I needed to realize for myself that I was worth more than a number, and deserved to feel, cry, and be supported too.

If you haven’t reached that point, I understand. It took me a very long time, a lot of ups and downs, to come to any sort of positive conclusions. I urge you to take a hard look at who you want to be, what you want to accomplish, and determine what you need to do to get there.

I can pretty much guarantee, a life with ED, or one filled with negativity, is not the way.

Good luck, and have patience, because like I said, it may have taken me more years than I would have liked, but even being part way through my journey, life gets better every day.

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16 thoughts on “What Took You So Long?

  1. Even though the focus of this post is about your ED, the overall theme can really apply to ANYONE. There are so many things I am just coasting through with my life right now instead of sitting down, taking a hard look, and deciding on where I want my future to go. It’s a powerful moment to stand up and say, “I’m not going to let my life pass me by any longer.” I think it’s time for me to follow suit. ❤

  2. I wonder if this is a prelude to you deciding to get more help (inpatient? something). I worry about you. You’re so tiny and I see in your words and the nagging worries in your voice that you’re not clear of it. You got a long way to go. Forget exercise and all that for a long while.
    But I fully suppport you being able to do it whichever way you feel best. I think you have the make the decision yourself. Getting out of your head and into life can be a remarkable thing. I’ll let you know when I get there….

    • I dont need inpatient anymore. I am gaining at home and follow my meal plan. I wish for you that you could have inpatient. I think it would help you so much. let me know if there is anything I can do!

  3. This message give me strength.
    I hate it when people ask me why I am doing this. Why I’m restricting food and why I keep doing that, even when I feel so bad, sick, dizzy, tired all day.
    I can’t answer that question. I keep trying and searching for the answer, but after 10 years, I still can’t answer.

    But I know that living with an ED is just not living. You can’t live with it if you also want a social life, a lot of friends, a boyfriend, a house, kids, etc. No way.
    We have to fight. But we also need to have patience.

    Thanks girl, you made me think again!

    • I am so glad it made you think! i hope you know how much you deserve recovery! no one should ever have to live in the hell of ED. you know im here if you need support!!!

  4. So true. It absolutely just takes something to finally click in your own head. You can go along with the recovery and gain the weight, but you won’t ever get truly healthy – mentally and physically – until you can make the choice yourself that you don’t want that life anymore. <3you

  5. I think… I love you. NOT IN A CREEPY WAY! haha. But really, this was an amazing post and SUCH a huge step to be able to realize that you truly want to leave the disordered life behind and enjoy living rather than just existing.

    I’m glad the blogging world has helped you, but you should know that your continued fight is helping many others (including myself) as well! ❤

  6. This is a really beautiful post written with such honesty. Honesty with your readers, but more importantly with yourself! I can’t imagine what it took to write these words, and I hope on their own they’ve been therapeutic for you. Reading them has refreshed my vantage point on my own struggles in life, and trying to overcome them with true intentions. Keep it up!

  7. love you sweetheart. you know i think about you and pray for you always. i miss you so much and i have faith that you will kick this shit out of your life forever so you can celebrate YOU every second of the day versus you plus a little bit of ED. love you, darlin! keep me updated on life!

    • I love hearing from you! I felt like we had so much in commong when we met this summer! where are you living? still in CT? I would love to get together! march on washington against the BS health care system!

  8. Hi love! This is an awesome post and (although I never had a full blown ED at all) I can relate to so much of it! Another thing I will say that one of my best friends pointed out – which should be so obvious – is when you are stuck undereating you become so obsessed with being thin that you think everyone else must be as well… when you couldnt be more worng. I was convinced everyone massively coveted my super thin figure when, to be honest, so few people care at all! Some people think it must be nice for you to be thin – but as soon as they see the compromises you make they think ‘no way!!!!’. It also makes you hugely judgemental of other peoples bodies – which is NEVER a good thing!

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