Last week I wrote about the scariest moments of my eating disorder – one of the deadliest side effects of an eating disorder and my experience with it. Today I’d like to put some of that in perspective and talk about the most reckless moments of my eating disorder – my most recent relapse from February 2012 to April 2013.
Recklessness is defined as acting without thinking or caring about the consequences of those actions. Now, some people could argue that a relapse can’t possibly be reckless because it just sort of happens and is unavoidable in recovery. It is my personal belief that relapses happen because we are not ready to recover fully and make choices that lead relapse after relapse until we are ready to make the difficult decisions. In my mind, we make choices daily that determine whether we are facing relapse or recovery and although at the time I seemed to fall back into relapse, I recognize now that the choices I made put me back in relapse.
In February of 2012 I left my treatment program feeling shaky but as if I might be able to keep myself out of too much trouble. I went back to my life and my work and before I knew it I was restricting, purging and over-exercising again. It took over slowly and soon I was starting to have palpitations and pains in my chest again. I knew that my body was starting to suffer under my symptoms but I didn’t care. I kept a close eye on my pulse and blood pressure, making sure my heart wasn’t struggling too much – although now I’m not sure what “too much” would have been. My weight was lower than it had ever been and I was pushing the boundaries of possibility, testing the limits of my own body, knowing that my heart could give up at any time.
In March of 2013, after a year of seeing my psychologist privately she confronted me about the spiral I dove deeper and deeper into every week. She told me that she didn’t think I was medically sound enough to see her anymore. She was worried about me driving by myself to and from her appointments and about what the stress could be doing to my already damaged heart. She said that if I didn’t turn things around we would need to talk about weekly doctors checkups and possibly even treatment round 3. She started questioning my motivations, my commitment to recovery and what exactly I wanted to gain from our sessions together.
Thankfully, I was able to pick myself up out of the bottomless pit and start down a real road to recovery. I am incredibly lucky that my flirtation with the limits of my human body didn’t kill me a second time. It was a miracle I was able to survive the first time my heart started to fail, to test it’s limits to that extent again was just asking for death.
Now that I am in recovery, and doing well, I am able to recognize the most terrifying thing about my disorder. Yes, getting the news that my heart had arrested was the scariest thing to happen to me because of my disorder, but the scariest thing about the disorder itself is that it took me to such depths that I took my body to it’s limits knowing full well that I was asking for death and that I didn’t care. I didn’t care that I could die at any moment, in fact I almost welcomed it. I was lighter and smaller that I had ever been and at least I would be thin forever, even if I was in the ground.
Eating disorders come to us in times of trial and whisper ever so gently in our ears that they can help us feel better. At first, listening to them does feel better and we become close friends with the voice in our minds. Slowly over time we alienate all other friends so that we can not imagine life without the disorder. One day almost out of the blue, that soft sweet voice of reason turns cruel but it is too late and we are already firmly in it’s grasp. Like a battered wife we return to our spouse over and over again with promises that this time will be different, they really do love us and they try to smooth us over with more perfumed words. Please, take my lesson and learn that this is one abusive spouse that will never change.