Life · mental health

When Recovery No Longer Fits

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Last month I made a post about being a Sad Cookie Monster. Yesterday I did some reflecting on that post and on how recovery has been going on the whole. While I am proud of how well I’ve been doing in terms of dealing with my depression/anxiety, I can’t help but feel disappointed in myself for how I’ve handled my food issues. I’ve been in therapy for 6 months now and I don’t feel like I’ve made as much progress as I should have. Things haven’t gotten worse, but my eating habits definitely haven’t loosened up as much as I need them to. I am still somewhat rigid with my choices and lean far too heavily on what’s “healthy” rather than what I want. There’s still a list of food items that I never (or rarely) eat because I’m still letting the eating disorder dictate these things.

We’ve had a lot of lunches catered at work recently, due to the fact that this is a crazy time of the year for us. They’ve also brought in special treats like ice cream and cakes, all in an effort to keep morale up. Personally, I think it’s great that they do these things. But, despite how nice it is, part of me panics every time it happens. I’ll be honest, more than half the time I don’t partake. It’s not because I don’t want to. I do want to enjoy lunch and treats with my co-workers without experiencing an existential crisis every time, but I don’t know how to just let go and not worry. I am terrible at spontaneous things like this when it comes to food.

The food situation at home can also be highly stressful for me. Boyfriend and I have very different food preferences and eating habits. I didn’t anticipate this being an issue when I first agreed to move in last year, but I quickly realized that I was mistaken. For the most part, we both just fend for ourselves. We rarely sit down and eat dinner at the same time and we never cook dinner together. This probably works out well for some couples. For me it can be frustrating. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this system, but it’s not what I am used to. For almost ten years I lived with someone who had similar eating habits as my own. We cooked dinner together (or one of us cooked for the other person) regularly. When we didn’t cook we went out or picked up take out. We talked about it and planned. If I wasn’t comfortable with a certain food option we figured out how to compromise. I was nudged when necessary, being asked things like “Is it you that doesn’t want that or does your eating disorder not want it?” Believe it or not, this made it much easier for me to approach meal times and figure out how to defy that voice in my head that tries to make me obsess over what I eat.

Eating “normally” and maintaining my recovery became harder after I got separated. Living by myself meant that I didn’t have anyone to help me plan or keep me in check. For a while I managed to do well on my own, but it definitely became more challenging as time went on. When I moved in with Boyfriend I spiraled down rapidly. Not only was the food situation different than what I was expecting, but I was also facing a lot of general stress, as well. Unfortunately, my eating disorder thrived off all these changes.

It was naive of me, but I really believed that I would bounce back quicker this time around. I had been through therapy once before and lived in a mostly recovered state for the better part of a decade. “You should already know how to do this,” my brain says when it’s trolling me late at night. But I guess I don’t. There are some major differences in my life now versus what it was when I was eighteen. My day-to-day life is different, my support team is different, my personality is different, etc.

Part of the problem is that I grew used to the life I had and the way my recovery fit into it. I never planned for what would happen if things changed. Now that it has, I don’t know how to handle it and feel like I am starting over. I guess it’s time to start trying on different kinds of recovery until I figure out what works best for me.

I was hoping that this post would taken a more positive spin by the end, but it doesn’t appear that’s going to happen. For now, I’m just trying to stop being such a Sad Cookie Monster, one day at a time. As always, thank you for reading. ❤

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11 thoughts on “When Recovery No Longer Fits

  1. This world–and life–is unfair. Who would think a simple, everyday thing such as food could be a serious issue for some people? Food should be enjoyed, celebrated, but for many it’s a huge stumbling block. I constantly war with myself over OCD. I believe much of that stems from, or was heightened, by PTSD I’ve suffered with since Vietnam. No boo-hooing here, please. But I go to take my morning meds and one stands on its side instead of lying flat. A BIG no-no. If I don’t put it down flat something bad is sure to happen. If I don’t look east before going to bed, same thing. I realize it’s irrational, but there it is. I truly wish you well, Kiersten. Please know (as I’m sure you must) that you’re not alone in your battles.
    –Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m sure that’s very difficult to deal with every day. I feel your pain, even if mine is slightly different. Thank you for your kind words. It’s nice to know that we are not alone. ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

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