Sick Inside

Out of nowhere, I feel like a fraud. How dare I write about “recovery” when tackling my disordered eating has been a DIY life-improvement project? My treatment team comprised myself, a stack of library books, and the deep desire to be “the kind of person” who can feel mentally stable next to a bowl of tortilla chips.

This week, a voice in my gut has been saying, “Who do you think you ARE?”

It’s the same voice that kept me suffering for years. For decades it told me the problem wasn’t the ridiculous diet, the problem was my nonexistent self-control. When I lay in bed post-binge in so much pain I couldn’t roll over easily, a realization-mantra playing in my heart—I need help, I need help, I need help—that gut-voice said I’d be laughed at.

Is it true that I “was never really that sick”?

It is true that I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder by a mental health or medical professional. My doctor once looked at me squarely and asked, “Have you ever heard of ‘orthorexia’?” I have spent hours and large sums of money trying to reverse the physical effects erratic nutrition and self-punishing exercise. But according to this inner bully, my disordered eating (and therefore my recovery) doesn’t “count.”

Really? I ask that voice. How dare you?!

I stare down at the handful of pills I swallow every morning to support my physical insides. Recent blood work showed a little health setback. It’s okay. It’s probably mostly fixable. I’ve replaced an old prescription with two new ones: one full-moon tablet is now four foul-smelling, yellowish capsules. Some of these I’ll probably need forever—it’s unlikely I’ll get down to zero medications and supplements—but most are temporary.

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How long “temporary” is remains a mystery, though. My body needs time to catch up. (Because I like to anthropomorphize my body, I imagine it still saying, “But what if she STOPS FEEDING ME AGAIN?!”) I spent decades hurting myself. Six months of self-love is a drop in the bucket.

My mental health is now great most days. (And telling off the negative self-talk that tried to silence me is a huge win!) I feel healthy. I’ve learned to trust my body again.

Now I need to be patient and let it re-learn to trust me.

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