recovering from anorexia: overcoming the obstacles

today we have a guest post from aliya, who has been very active in our anorexia recovery forum. she is a young woman who has been in recovery from anorexia for 7 months. she shares her struggles in the beginning of recovery from anorexia and how to overcome them.

well, having been in recovery for a few good months, now and firmly on my way, i can look back at the earlier stages and see just how hard they were.

when you first begin recovery, there are so many little struggles and hurdles that need to be overcome, once you do them, you are well on your way to recovery.

you begin recovery: after having starved your body, beginning to eat again is strangely hard. the first thing i ate when i came into recovery was a fruit salad. seems like nothing, doesn’t it? but for me, that was huge and i felt immensely full so soon after.

that was the first problem i encountered, my tummy used to get full so easily and quickly, and bloated. the way to overcome it is to eat small meals, often, to allow your tummy to adjust. i had a routine, that at certain times i had to eat so i don’t try to avoid any meals. the ana voice is strong at this stage and this makes it so difficult. i used to sit and cry after meals, cause i hated how hard it was to eat something. the thought of gaining weight is always going to be scary.

the other part of starting to eat again was, at the start, i had to make everything i ate and i had to eat certain foods. it was obsessive; i would make odd things like a baked potato with kidney beans. i had to make it though, and in time it goes away and you begin to try foods from other sources. this takes a lot of courage, and support.

there can never be too much support when you’re recovering from this disease. when i eat something that’s maybe different or eat more of something, to me it’s a huge achievement, and i always want it to be acknowledged. it’s like i’m telling the world, i’m getting better.

i think the second big hurdle is weight regain. for about 2 months, i gained about 2 pounds a week, even though i still wasn’t eating that much. i used to hate it. when you begin to eat more regularly, weight gain creeps in, and it’s hard to control. you keep gaining and gaining, until your metabolism stabilizes and from then on, weight gain is hard.

the best way to get over this, is to not weigh yourself. if you’re going to a counseller then do blind weigh ins, where you don’t know how much you weigh or if your not, then don’t take out the scales for at least 2 months. i used to be obsessive, about weighing myself, and weighed myself about ten times a day, and i hated how my weight fluctuated so much. as much as 6 pounds! so it’s definitely normal.

during this stage i would seriously not worry about the regain. it does even out eventually and then you have to eat more and more. it’s a hard and difficult phase, but honestly if you keep eating and fight hard you pull through.

the next hurdle was exercise. i felt at the beginning, when i started eating, i had to exercise, so i used to try and go for walks all the time, and it’s the obsessiveness again. in recovery i found i obsessed about things. i think you need to get rid of any obsessiveness in order to be fully recovered. the purpose of the walks was so you don’t ‘gain lots of weight’ but a walk should be taken when you feel like one. now, i don’t exercise at all, i don’t need to, and i know i shouldn’t. of course when i’m at my normal weight, then yes i can do some light exercise now and then, but when you start recovery, you really don’t need to.

i overcame it by saying to myself, why should i exercise just for the sake of ana? no, if i wanted to get rid of ana, i had to do it the hard way, and trying to burn calories is not going to get rid of the voices. i would honestly say that anyone in recovery should not exercise, because it becomes obsessive and the last thing you want to do is relapse.

once you get over the exercise, you adjust to food, and your weight is much more stable; you enter a nicer stage. i believe that’s where i am just now. right now, i truly want to get better, and get to that ideal weight range. it’s been about 7 months, and i’m at this stage where i feel hungry all the time and i eat a lot more. i feel comfortable eating, and trying new things.

the guilt feelings and ana voice still creeps in, but now when it does the way i defeat it, is eat. i eat so ana gets angry and goes away. it’s amazing what food does; it’s making my mind so much clearer. yes, i still see ”fat’ when i look in the mirror, but i know its false.

it’s a long journey but i know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, where i will have my old life back, and food won’t be such an issue in my life. i can’t wait for that, but i’m ready for any more obstacles that come my way.

at the end of the day, when you first begin recovery you have to truly truly, from the bottom of your heart, want to get better. when you can accept that, you will get through recovery. you have to want to get better for you.

8 thoughts on “recovering from anorexia: overcoming the obstacles

  1. Tom Stine | Life Coaching

    Fantastic story. Thank you, Aliya, for sharing that. I am always blown away when people share they struggles and gains. Thank you again.

    It re-emphasizes for me what seems to be a truth for most people: we have to find our own personal “bottom” on our journey. the point where we surrender and finally see the shift. Aliya, you found yours. Many blessings as you continue to recover.

    Tom Stine | Life Coaching’s last blog post..Beyond Spiritual Practices – Suzanne Segal

  2. rachael

    wow aliyah, thank you so much for sharing that…haha i am almost in tears right now it like helps me get through everything, i am so glad you are doing so well and i relate to every stage you described, i am not all the way there yet but i think i will be soon!

  3. Jaycee

    Aaliyah—-Thank you so much for being so open and honest. You have helped so many people with your courage and bravery, and I am so happy for you and your recovery. You are a true source of inspiration and I hope that you continue to live a positive and healthy life.

  4. Glenn

    That’s a very cool piece. I don’t often reply to blog posts but you take me inside a world that I have no experience with and let me see some of the perspectives and difficulties that are there.

    Thank you for sharing.

  5. Triona

    This post is absolutely inspirational I have been trying to attempt recovery for quite a while and i am currently experiencing the having to be active and exercising phase it gives me such comfort to know i don’t have to exercise and the weight gain will still benormal i am so petrified that all theweight will go on as fat ana makes me obsess about the rate of weight gain (fast=fat slow=muscle) but i’m trying to look past all that and see it’s not real ana isn’t real it wants me dead!!

  6. sarfaraz

    Dear Aliya,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It helped me deeply. This is the 6th month for me, in recovery from an ED and I am constantly feeling starved even though I am eating constantly. Reading your post made me realize it is a normal phenomenon. My step father died from bulimia mixed with a crack overdose, and my mom was anorexic (80 lbs) as I was growing up. They always told me I was fat, even when I was passing out from hunger at school.I am now 42 years old and I have never known life without an ED until 6 months ago, and putting on this much weight is totally horrifying to me. But your story has helped. My love and support to you and all others in recovery. We can do it little by little.
    Here is a tip that helped me: I wrote a care plan and read it every day. I threw out ALL OF MY CLOTHES and bought new ones in various sizes, some a little too big so that when I gain weight I have something to wear that looks nice.
    Peace and happiness all

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