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I spent more than half my life battling with bulimia in all its forms - binge, purge, fast, and repeat. What a miserable existance - and yet, in all honesty, there were times that I was quite content to be living that way. That is what the disorder does; it warps your thinking and your reality.
I don't know if I will ever be "recovered," but I find that the time between relapses gets longer, and when they do happen I am able to recognise the patterns and deal with them much more quickly than before.
The biggest problem with eating disorders is that a person has to eat. I can't cut out the problem the way an alcoholic or drug addict might be able to. Which means that we face our demons every day, every time we get hungry or have to plan our next meal.
For me there was no magic cure, but I did find a number of ways to help me avoid episodes, or to try to snap out of it if I did relapse. Picturing my children is a powerful deterrent if I am considering a binge/purge, although to my great shame that doesn't always work. I knew my ed way before I ever knew my kids, so I guess it is deep inside me. I never want my two to have this dreadful relationship with food, so a lot of the time I am putting on an act for them, and who knows, if I can act it long enough maybe this will become my new reality.
Distraction is good, trying to remove myself from the place of temptation until the urges pass. Quite often this means abandoning my trolley in the supermarket, but I have to do what I have to do.
The thing that probably helped me the most was keeping a diary - suddenly, at the age of 31, filling a notebook with all my inner turmoil made me feel a little teen angst-ish, but it really helped me identify the triggers and the emotions that make me vulnerable, so that I can be prepared for the next time. I also tried to fill it with my most positive thoughts, at my strongest times, so that I could look back over it and feel inspired and more "capable."
So I guess I would say that I might not be free from my ed, but I am managing it and coping with it, which will do for now.
I wish you the best of luck with your recovery, I hope you can get through each day with strength and courage. Be kind to yourself, you can do this x
I've got a long standing eating disorder which waxes and wanes and I'm not sure if it will ever really fully go. Sometimes I feel I'm done with it, other times its very much there and I don't think will ever really go. Relapses are common with eating disorders and thats something I think you/we need to be aware of but once that infringes on your life too much I think your basicly still living under the thumb of your eating disorder but just in a different way.
I do though have a friend who to all intents and purposes does seem to be recovered, she is an amazing person, still struggles a great deal with her depression but doesn't use her eating to cope. Her weight is important to her- because she worries about being too thin as she has brittle bones which seem not to have properly recovered and despite her (very much non ED family) all being quite slim, she has tried very hard to keep her weight up when she'd long have excuses to stay at the bottom end of normal, just so she can ensure her bones are healthy, her mind is working properly.
I do think there is such a thing as recovery, but I think its about widening your life, having other things become more important and reducing the need. Once your life is focused on other things of course there is always a risk you can fall back into old habits when the going gets touch, but if your aware of that and keeping an eye out for it- plus trying to set aside new ways of coping with things rather then through food your going to be more likely to set new good habits where your ED is not needed and so more likely to establish a life without an ED.
Try to find new ways to communicate your head-stuff with others, friends, family, counsellors and the like are great, it doesn't matter if you don't focus on just one person though I think. The way out isn't something that just happens, its something you do have to work for but once you start the momentum it gets easier to keep it going.
ED's are very difficult to overcome - so well done so far (be positive!). I 've had an ED for the past 7 1/2 years and although I am better than I was I still restrict and I remain underweight - but eat because I want to run.
As the others have said recovery is possible - I know quite a few people who have battled though various types of ED's and are now living happy, healthy lives so please don't give up just persevere. Find friends/family who are supportive or perhaps the local Beat group? As Springle says - try to develop other (more sensible) coping strategies for dealing with problems - I learnt the hard way that ED's are rubbish as a coping strategy, but the illness controls you/us so much it's difficult and anxiety provoking - to put it mildly - to let go.
Not sure how old you are etc so no idea if this is of any use but Gill Todd gave a talk recently on ED's and has done lots of work with Janet Treasure at the Maudsley hospital and they have written a book about supporting people with ED's from a parents perspective. It seems to be good but as a parent of 2 grown up children it's me that has the ED, so I haven't read it. It may be of use though? Here's the link http://www.thenewmaudsleyapproach.co.uk/ Good luck and keep persevering and remember your body is like a car it needs fuel to run - no fuel no running!!
Forgot to add - Chrissie Wellington the triathlete used to have an ED - her book is a good read not just about ED's but her life in general; training; work etc very positive and interesting.
Two reasons (in answer to your question).
1. Because it currently serves a purpose in whatever way.
and 2. Because old habits die hard.
I was never officially diagnosed but, looking back, I had all the behaviours and some of the physical symptoms (e.g. amenorrhea), except one, that would have classified me as anorexic. However, I never restricted so much that I was severely underweight. My weight always hovered just around the low end of the "healthy BMI" which, for me, clearly isn't healthy. But it was enough for doctors to dismiss my concerns or to not even consider that I may not be eating properly. Counterintuitive as it may be, for me, marathon training helped a lot. It made me realize that my body is this amazing machine that's capable of incredible performance. But only as long as I fuel it properly. Food is fuel. I gained about 10 lbs, at least half of which seems to be muscle, and managed to keep it on. As for recovery, I don't know whether there is such a thing. Maybe it's more about managing. Whenever I get stressed in a particular way I end up restricting again and I have to remind myself how good I feel now, that I am healthy now, in the shape of my life, but I will only stay this way as long as I eat. Up to now, this has been enough to keep me from snapping back, fingers crossed.
Solarflare, your experience isn't so odd- training and exercising has been known to help many with eating disorders because it helps to view your body as a uselful machine which needs to be treated well to work better rather then as something to express all your anger/sadness/self-hate onto.
Every day is a new day and as much as it can feel your in control, always take each day at a time and remember how far you have come.
Sounds like your on to a good think Summerrain
Can I just make a suggestion? Write down how your feeling, what your aims are, what you want to do/your motivation and the reasons why. Keep that somewhere within eye-shot and use it to reel yourself in. I'm sure your more then aware that things move forward and sideways and in all different directions...you sometimes can get wonderful moments of clarity when you also feel so motivated in a positive direction and then the next moment everything feels like it suddenly plummets to the ground and feels impossible and you can forget your purpose.
I hope your marathon goes well but don't forget to keep your health in-check with a Doctor, if you have a long standing eating disorder you'll have underlying health issues and doing things to an extreme such as a marathon will push your body as close to the edge as you can imagine (that's the point of it and why its such a big deal to not just runners but the rest of the population!) any underlying issues can become much bigger issues and could become a problem. Problems such as weakened bones, worn out joints and any nutritional deficiencies (hope I've spelt that right, the spg thinks I have!).
Not trying to burst your bubble- I hope it doesn't come across that way! I just don't want everything ruined for you before you've had a chance to get things going as I'd imagine that could really affect you if your already feeling so positive about it.
Good luck- and keep a diary, will be excellent to read back to yourself when you want to look back and remind yourself of what you achieved.
Summerrain - a marathon sounds great - which one are you doing? You sound very motivated so keep it going and good luck! Just remember to listen to your body and remember it is like a car - it needs petrol to go and your body needs food to move and stay healthy.
I would love do a marathon but my GP expressed concerns that i wouldn't have enough energy stored to meet the demands of the 26 miles - I'm not quite sure whether to go with his thoughts or not. I really want to do one and feel motivated to keep well enough, and completed 3 HM's in the past 12 months all around 1.50 mins range. I have done one before but 20 years ago before the ED and obviously a lot younger at the time, but I do know the demands it made on me..........