Maintaining My Elusive Grasp On Anorexia Recovery

October 7, 2011 Angela E. Gambrel

"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." ~ Joseph Campbell

I have struggled with anxiety and depression for weeks. Several mornings I stay in bed, huddled under my covers where it feels safe, until the very last possible moment. I think about the life I had before I developed anorexia. My husband and I were still together, sharing life and love, enjoying each other's company and spending time with family and friends.

I was a well-known journalist in my small town, and enjoyed my job tremendously. My writing was both respected and well-received by many people, and I received several state and national awards for the articles I wrote. I was honored to be awarded the Distinguished Civilian Medal by the Michigan National Guard for my military coverage.

I regularly volunteered at a local elementary school, spending time each week with a young student who needed someone to listen to her; to hear her hopes and dreams, to share lunch and books. I remember our two heads bent over a book as one little girl would slowly trace her finger across each word, determined to show me her skills.

All of that is gone now. The center of my life did not hold, and I have watched my life implode as I developed anorexia. I feel as if I have been in free-fall ever since. lore-dss-someone-you-should-love-visitors-quote-21402322I starting thinking about my life before anorexia when life literally hit me on Friday afternoon. I was driving to see my eating disorders psychiatrist — his office is almost two hours from my home — when my small car was rear-ended by a truck going about 70 miles per hour and driving about two inches from my rear. The highway I travel each week to see my doctor is a busy one, filled with various construction zones and people traveling to both north and south to various parts of the state.

I have driven this route since August 2008, and my ED psychiatrist is one of the best in this state. I connected with him immediately, and I want to stress that he has done his very best to convince me that I deserve recovery and has worked very hard with me both in an outpatient setting and during numerous hospitalizations I have had because of anorexia-related anxiety and depressions.

So why does my grasp on recovery seem so fragile at times? Don't I want to get better? Is there a part of me that wants to stay sick?

Because I have been circling recovery for weeks now. I have been restricting my food intake, but about every two or three nights I will suddenly get angry and eat various snacks until I am full. It is not a binge. It is making up for the fact that I have not eaten a complete meal during the day, and suddenly it is as if my body rebels and forces me to get the nutrition I am lacking.

Then the next few days will be extremely restrictive, and I will have a fleeting sense of pride that I was strong enough to eat so little.

Tonight is one of the nights my body rebelled, and I found myself eating first a single container of yogurt, hummus and pita bread, and finished off this feast with cottage cheese and salsa (an interesting taste combination I discovered.)

None of these foods are particularly high in calories, but I still find myself feeling guilty for eating this much. Then I remember I did not eat a full meal all day, and I start to feel confused. Do I want to eat? Or do I not want to eat?

Who — or what — is really in control here right now? It sometimes feels like a literal battle between two forces in my mind.

My healthy self wants to move forward and complete graduate school, live a happy and fulfilling life complete with a loving and joyful relationship and a meaningful career. I try and believe that this is true, and that full recovery is possible and I will not be chained to anorexia or anorexic thoughts the rest of my life.

The eating disorder voice keeps whispering to me that I need to eat less and lose weight, and only then will I be happy. This part of myself causes me to do such ridiculous things as weigh myself every morning and count every single calorie that goes into my mouth. I feel guilty if I eat more than a certain amount of calories each day, or when I give in and eat until I am actually full, instead of having the feelings of hunger, dizziness, and an all-pervasive inability to even think clearly.

The other morning I woke up and, as typical lately, huddled underneath the covers, afraid to get out of bed. Then I became angry. I thought I can either let this defeat me, or I can fight back and have the life that is waiting for me.

That means letting go of many dreams I had for my life. But one can't live on dreams alone, particularly if these are the kinds of dreams that cannot come true. At some point, I will have to grasp recovery with both hands, hold on, and never let go.

APA Reference
Gambrel, A. (2011, October 7). Maintaining My Elusive Grasp On Anorexia Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 21 from

Author: Angela E. Gambrel

Leave a reply