When you are in recovery from a severe eating disorder you have had for 17 years, and you work with people who have them on a daily basis, you can pretty much say you are pretty schooled in the area of nervosa.
One of the things that I believe is that when you give up your eating disorder you realize how much time and space your life suddenly has. You give up that security blanket of not eating anything, or eating everything. Your mind isn’t constantly suffocated with thoughts of food, calories, weight, and sizes.
You honestly can find yourself feeling very anxious and bored.
Eating Disorder Recovery and Smoking
One of the biggest things I see is that a huge majority of people with eating disorders smoke and or take up smoking to ease some of that tension.
I myself never did, but I was one of the very few.
Almost every treatment center I was at all the people I was with smoked.
I also know people who never smoked until they came to treatment because they picked it up from other patients.
I hear it all the time that smoking is better than not eating or having your head down the toilet, and while I totally see the point, I also see smoking as really unhealthy as well.
I watched my grandmother kill herself with emphysema because of it, and have never desired to take it up.
I also hear that it’s too hard to stop smoking and give up and eating disorder at the same time.
I get that it seems like the lesser of the two evils, but if you break it down, you are just replacing one bad habit for another one.
While I applaud people for working through their eating issues, smoking is putting themselves at risk for all sorts of health problems. I actually have witnessed at Rader a whole bunch of patients trying to give up smoking because they realized that they were not really doing themselves any good.
I myself experienced being in that zone where I needed to fill that big hole my eating disorder once resided.
I have always had a bit of a problem with shopping too much, but when I was in treatment I found myself getting out of control with online shopping.
This is really something I notice a lot of people with eating disorders do.
Although shopping isn’t as dangerous to your health as smoking is, it is still just something that I used to keep myself occupied so we don’t have to think about all my problems.
It also provides a huge rush. Buying things made me happy, but it was a temporary fix, so I had to keep doing it and doing it.
I burned through some serious cash on shoes, purses, make-up, clothes. I would spend tons just at the drugstore on cosmetics, shampoo, heck even dental floss. The more I bought the better I felt, until I would be broke or in debt. It’s the same feeling I actually used to get during a binge and purge episode. At first the binge would give me a huge high, but then the purge would give me a huge low.
I had to really curb the way I spent my money and admit that I was just shopping instead of practicing my eating disorder. It was another way to just not have to feel. It was another way to numb.
I also had to realize especially when I got a full time job, that I had responsibilities to pay rent and bills, gas and groceries. If I didn’t get my act together I would be homeless with 20 boxes of high heels.
Another thing I see some people doing during recovery is go to tanning beds a lot.
I know it may sound silly but they literally go from being anorexic to tanorexic.
Tanning becomes another way to try to control your appearance, and sometimes it gets to the point where getting dark and maintaining it becomes addictive. It’s honestly just another thing to become obsessed about, and I have seen people freak out when they can’t do it everyday.
The point is all of these innocent little habits are actually not helping you in your recovery.
If you move a fire from the living room into the kitchen, you still have a fire in the house.
We can tell ourselves that it’s OK because at least they are better than our Eating Disorder, but that’s not an excuse.
You have to find healthy habits to replace all that bad energy.
I encourage you to dance, sculpt, paint, sing, write, volunteer, heck learn to make a souffle.
There are plenty of wonderful and vibrant activities to do in this world that aren’t a distraction from your Eating Disorder, but are merely a different way of living your life.
Find what works for you, and then do it. If you can afford it travel, branch out of your own environment for the weekend, create an adventure..and by all means explore.
I truly believe this and I know this to be true.
Don’t be the same color, just a different shade, go out there and completely learn to draw yourself with a totally different crayon.
CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC