There is nothing more personal than a human and his or her search bar.
Everything from questions about bumps or weird rashes, to searching a past love interest — your search bar history reveals a lot about you.
And so I thought it would be interesting tonight to answer the top four questions Google is asked about anorexia recovery.
Because it’s true – the idea of recovery is a scary unknown for anyone trapped in the throes of an eating disorder. It’s time we shine some truth on the biggest questions about it, according to Google. – And one caveat – I’m not a doctor/therapist/dietician…I’m just a girl who is going strong in her 15th year of recovery from a horrid disease that nearly took my life.
- How long is recovery from anorexia?
Recovery is a lifelong journey. There will never be a time that you aren’t in recovery from anorexia. Which may, from the surface, sound a bit depressing…but the truth is that every single day, you’re going to have to wake up and choose recovery. Choose life. Which, once you get the “ball rolling” in recovery, becomes a bit of a “no-brainer.” But the thief — ‘ED’, aka your eating disorder — can show up without warning, and comes only to steal, kill and destroy. So you’ve always got to stay diligent, stay alert, stay focused and keep your toes pointed down the recovery road!
- Does your body go back to normal after anorexia?
The long and short answer is, yes and no. That is the ultimate goal, but after such a sustained period of starvation and lack of nutrients, you’ve got to pray that the damage wasn’t irreversible. For example, bone health — I developed early onset osteopenia, which thankfully I have restored to normal, healthy levels. Another area that is often irreversible is dental health…especially in people who are bulimic. Thankfully, that was not something I battled, so I don’t have to deal with that. However, my reproductive system took over a decade to fully heal. It took me until I was 30 to have my first period, because of the stress my anorexia had on my reproductive system. I thank God every day that I am now healthy in that regard. Other little things: I have pretty thick “arm hair” because I spent literally years with such a low body temperature, so there’s that…And since my puberty was stunted right from the jump by literal starvation, I’m not the most “well endowed belle at the ball…”
But yes – your body should be able to recover after such a traumatic season — albeit slowly. By its very nature, you will gain weight, causing you to look different from your unhealthy, underweight self – but that weight gain is beautiful and necessary for recovery. Initially the weight gain will be around the trunk of the body, to protect the internal organs, as they have been under great distress and their protective insulation has been consumed by the body as fuel. So initially the weight gain will be there, but with consistent, adequate nourishment, that will all even itself out. 🙂
Lastly, it’s important to remember that the mind is also recovering from a warped sense of reality when it comes to body image. Body dysmorphia is a real thing, and so any weight gain will automatically not look “normal” from the get go, but trust that your mind will ultimate heal as well….it won’t be a fast process, but it eventually will perceive reality as it is.
- What happens in recovery from anorexia?
This answer could be a book! But I will keep it to a few bullet points, so as to limit my wordiness.
- I will preface this by saying that the best place for recovery to start is at an inpatient facility, under the supervision of medical professionals. Refeeding a starving body must be done safely, so as not to send the body into refeeding syndrome, which can be fatal. Your vital stats should be monitored throughout the day.
- You first and foremost focus on weight restoration.
- You work on your relationship with food: tackling fear foods, learning to enjoy the tastes of foods, and getting used to eating appropriate sized-meals and snacks at regular intervals, without food rituals or engaging in ED behaviors.
- You should develop an accountability team: a person or team you trust to bring your “realness” to — be it your struggles, your victories. This is ideally a professional team with a doctor, therapist and dietician. Also, having a trusted friend or family member with whom you can confide in is instrumentally helpful.
- You work on your relationship with yourself, and unpack all the destructive inner messages that you’ve come to believe, that have led to the development of the disorder. For me, that message — or lie — was that I was unworthy of love, and a burden. It is necessary to identify the lie, and replace it with the truth.
- This is the cornerstone of recovery: finding where to draw your strength and courage. Jesus is the one, true answer to a life free from ED. I fully believe that anorexia is none other than spiritual warfare, and so to drown out the lies being thrown to us by the enemy that we’re worthless, unlovable, full of shame, fat, a disappointment, abandoned — all those lies that contributed to the development of the eating disorder, need to be replaced with God’s truth: that we have immeasurable worth because we were created by God. That we are loved beyond our wildest imaginations. That we are forgiven of our past, and that we are given a new spirit – a new future – a new path, free from the shackles of ED.
- You work on restoring the damaged relationships left in the wake of the eating disorder.
- You learn to love life again.
- You learn to allow love into your life again — from God, from yourself, from others and from a romantic partner.
- What are your chances of recovery from anorexia?
Full recovery IS POSSIBLE!!! It is absolutely possible, and something that is far more precious that you could ever imagine. Recovery takes perseverance, because there will absolutely be days where you want to throw in the towel and revert back to your “old ways” and engage in different behaviors. There may even be a period of relapse. But the important thing to remember is that, you’re going forward. You’re choosing life. You’re choosing recovery.
When I was in the throes of anorexia — 78 pounds, on death’s door, and completely consumed by the darkness, I never dreamed that the life I’m living now would be possible. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been — and 100% in my weight range, I have a healthy relationship with exercise, my body image issues have subsided, I have a beautiful relationship with God – with my family – with food, I’ve forgiven my past, and best of all — I’ve allowed myself to receive love again, and I’m engaged to the most wonderful man. None of which I ever could have imagined would be possible. But it IS!! And surrendering my recovery to Jesus was the number one reason why all these realities have come to be: because He wants to give us a life of abundance, to the full!
So there you have it!
I do hope that those answers have shed some light on the “brain busters” of the internet when it comes to recovery.
All kidding aside though, the decision to embark on recovery was the absolute best decision of my life. And not a day goes by that I’m not grateful to have said YES to life those 15 years ago at inpatient.
It is my deepest prayer that anyone reading this, who may be in a similar place that I was long ago, will know that a life of freedom is out there, waiting for you, and that you deserve to live it — FREE FROM ED!!
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