What I Wish I Knew

Recovery is tricky.

Ed loves to tell me I am doing better than what I really am.

He will often mask himself as something completely different to penetrate into moments when I think I am at my strongest.

And many times, things that normally seem “really bad” are actually fantastic signs of progress.

Sounds kind of confusing, right?

Let me explain.

I received a few e-mails about my experiences with edema, and if you want a pretty good scientific explanation of WHY it happens to some during their journeys, I suggest you visit (http://www.gwynetholwyn.com/blog/2012/5/22/edema-the-bane-and-blessing-of-the-recovery-process.html)

*FYI this entire site is an amazing resource! Take some time to browse if you are ever in need of support.

Anyway, this particular inquisition got me thinking…..

I have been through this process more times than I would like to admit; re-feeding, malnourishment, the whole gosh darn cycle that just never seems to end (IT WILL THOUGH, I have faith 🙂 )

But in those times I have noticed patterns that might be a little bit scary for someone who is completely new to “getting healthy,” and isn’t quite sure what to expect or what they signal.

Granted, not everyone’s situation is going to be the same, and my path is certainly not identical to other’s I have met who also were in recovery, but maybe by me telling you my discoveries, it will decrease the amount of anxiety that can arise from the changes that occur.

1. Edema

Since I opened with the subject of Edema, I figured it was appropriate to tell you a little bit about this uncomfortable side-effect.

Not everyone I know gets it, but edema is water retention.

Like I said, look to Gwyneth’s wise words if you want a way better medical description of what will happen but for me personally it does not matter if I decrease my salt intake to a morsel, my lower abdomen and legs swell like crazy sometimes.

It happens several times a month, most viciously around my menstrual cycle, but when it happens I always have a mental breakdown thinking I miraculously ballooned up overnight.

Obviously I didn’t but ED likes me to think so.

DON’T RESTRICT! It only makes it worse.

I know this from doing it myself…”oh I will just eat a little less tomorrow and slowly the weight will come off…”

Totally not the right way of thinking, and chances are you will wake up with bigger ankles if you decide a few hundred calories cut from your meal plan is no big deal, so I would advise staying on track.

2. Sweating

Maybe this sounds gross?

I don’t like to sweat unless I am engaging in some sort of physical activity that I actually anticipate perspiration, but if you suddenly start waking in the middle of the night a little wet, take this as the ultimate sign your metabolism is kicking back in.

Normally this happens to those who are on a pretty high calorie meal plan; usually for me it would be in the first few weeks of hospitalization, but lately I have been having these ridiculous hot flashes like I am a woman going through menopause.

If you know me at all, you will almost always see me next to a space heater, or wrapped in several layers because I am cold 99.9% of my life, but the other day in the car I literally could not stand the temperature and cranked the AC to full blast.

Ryan looked at me like I was insane because typically I am turning all the little vents away from me, and frantically pressing the seat-heat button because I am frigid, but between me kicking off the covers and stripping down to my undies in the middle of the night, and my sporadic needs for maximum cold air, it is a pretty good sign that recovery is in full-swing.

Yay for the few months of warmth I am experiencing!!

3. Stomach cramping and other TMI gastro-intestinal fun stuff

I will definitely not got into detail here, but if you once restricted your intake, it is pretty likely your digestive tract weakened.

As soon as this stuff starts to function again, you can expect some discomfort, but also some relief.

All this means is your body is accepting and appreciating nourishment.

4. SLEEP! and exhaustion

Aside from waking up in the middle of the night to change clothes, my sleep lately has been pretty darn awesome.

I have had a sinus infection, which I think adds to this, but my body is literally SO tired it barely wants to move.

It is playing catch-up; repairing years of damage that needs to be fixed in order for me to live as a fully operating healthy young woman.

Naps are my new favorite afternoon activity and although at one time I would have called this completely lazy, I now label it as “responsible.”

I am taking care of myself by responding when both my physical and mental self say “REST.”

This is not my body rebelling against me, punishing me and making me into a flat blob. It is my body saying, “I forgive you and we will get through this.”

5. Insane cravings, mood-swings, emotional outbursts, etc.

I have spent some time on all these things before so I won’t go into great detail, but remember that you are basically learning to re-live as an individual MINUS Ed.

It is absolutely normal, and encouraged for people to have emotions.

Food is delicious and should be celebrated rather than feared, so if you really like pizza and want it every day for a few weeks, who cares?!

(I know that happens to be one of my current obsessions!)

Eventually all these things will settle down and it will all seem more routine but for now, recovery is a journey of self-discovery.

Your body is trying to trust you again, you need to heal from the inside out, and in my opinion it is much more fun to try and go with it rather than judge every day as horrific.

I have done that mentality and it just makes everything worse.

Hopefully this provided some assistance for the scary aspects of the process, but if you have any questions please consult a doctor, ask for help, anything but revert back to ED who seems like your best friend and ally.

Again, I have been down that road and its never good; the glimmers of LIFE I am starting to experience are the best motivation to keep on truckin’ and they only are possible with persistence.

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9 thoughts on “What I Wish I Knew

  1. Thank you so much for this post,CJ!
    I often worry what weird reactions my body is showing on the changes I make regarding my eating patterns during recovery and often doubt I am doing the right thing actually resting,eating more carbs,fats etc. . You really helped me to calm my fear a bit,and that was really necessary!

  2. Edema sucks. And it’s scary and you think it’ll never go away and it makes you question everything! I have been in treatment a few times now after months of bingeing an purging, restricting, and using other methods that severely dehydrated my body. Everytime I have gone into treatment, I would gain like double digits of weight in like a week due to my body holding onto so much water. I was so uncomfortable. But, 2 weeks after I had entered into treatment, I started to pee like a racehorse and the extra water weight quickly came off and my weight gain finally settled down. The most important thing to do is be patient. Acting on ED symptoms only makes it worse in the long run.
    I just want to thank you CJ for your brutal honesty. I love how you go into great detail about your ED thoughts and how they control every move. I can relate to a lot of what you say. How I take my anger with muself amd the ED out on others, etc…I have suffered from either anorexia or bulimia for about 10 years now. I’m getting married in a month and am absolutely terrified that my ED will ruin my honeymoon.
    Right now, I’m at a healthy weight, but, at the same time I’m restricting and only really eating safe foods. I am terrified of “eating notmally” and gaing a shit ton of weight. The honeymoon will take me out of that comfort zone entirely.
    I am sorry for such a long comment. Thanks for your blog. Continue pushing through.

  3. I had most of those reactions when I had to regain weight in treatment. It was tough because it does make your head want to go back to a bad place but that is why it is imperative to stick it through. Looks like you are doing just that!

  4. Oh dear this brings me back. The sweating was awful for me, I could never get through a full nights rest without waking up covered in a sweat and having ot change the sheets.

    Sadly I’ve been in recovery 6 years now and my GI is still on the fritz. I Think I messed it up permantly during my worst times in my ED. another terrible thing this disease has done to my body…

  5. This is SO TRUE. The sweating. GROSS. At least in the hospital they change the sheets pretty often. 🙂 And the GI stuff. Oh, that one is hard to deal with. Especially if you’ve abused laxatives or were purging. What I never understand is why, in treatment, we had to do YOGA right after eating. I mean…that is just ASKING for a room full of noxious gases. I definitely had exhaustion. It’s unfortunate, on some level, because I sleep so much that I end up forgetting how bad and unpleasant the process is at the time. ED will convince me it wasn’t “that bad.” LIES!

    Although, I have to add that it really messes with your head if you don’t get these symptoms. I’ve never had edema and ED will use that to tell me I wasn’t sick enough. Last time I was in treatment, I also didn’t get night sweats at all. ED pops in telling me it’s because I didn’t lose enough weight. Rationally, I know it’s not true because I know all of my lab results, weight, etc. But ED is a sneaky sonofagun. BOO.

    It’s great that you shared this, though, because people who have never been in treatment will need to know what to expect since they don’t have a doctor or staff members there to clue them in (or other peers going through the same thing)!

    • ED is absolutely sneaky! and like I said, not everyone gets the same exact side effects from recovery….that doesnt mean they werent “sick enough” or that they arent doing recovery “right” it just means we are all different!

      Thank you for pointing that out hun, because others should be aware of that as well!!!

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