We Can Never Go Back To Before

. . . right?

Wait. It’s 11:30 am on a Friday. It’s not a holiday (yet). Why is Kelly blogging? Isn’t she supposed to be at work?

Yes, yes she . . . er, I am.

There are a lot of unpleasant side effects of eating disorders, many of which don’t go away even well into recovery. One such charming side effect: I’m not sure how it happened, I just know it has gotten worse with the progression of my eating disorder. Somehow, I’ve done something weird to my nerves. It could have something to do with the fact that the casing of your nerves is made up of fat, and fat loss leaves your nerves more exposed. Apparently that fat casing doesn’t rebuild as quickly as, say, my ass.

So today at work I slammed the top of my foot into the corner of a large metal-and-wood fixture. It hurt. A lot. Immediately, my focus splits: “Shit, I hope I haven’t broken anything” (the osteo makes my bones brittle) and “Shit, I hope this doesn’t make me pass out”. See, with increasing frequency over the past ten years, any time I get hit, my nerves go haywire and I pass out. It has happened at home, at work, at parties, at rehearsals, sometimes for something as stupid as slamming my finger in a changeroom door. It’s most inconvenient.

I don’t think I broke anything (bruising and swelling, but nothing too major), but I did pass out. Thank the coconut gods for their water. So I’m at home for a few hours until my body stops freaking out.

Days like today remind me why I am trying to put my eating disorder behind me. I know people say to focus on the positive, but for me, it’s not so easy. I was able to maintain the façade of “okay” a lot of the time, and had a lot of positive experiences, even when sick. (Have I mentioned I’m an Olympic Gold Medallist? More on that later)  It took a lot for me to fall apart and lose everything, and there’s a lot of space between “rock bottom” and “recovery”. And the pain of emaciation sucked, but merely “underweight” was pretty liveable (at least, that’s what my brain tells me). Instead, I focus on the things that really, truly sucked about my eating disorder, at any weight.

  • This stupid nerve thing. I can only hope it will go away over time, so long as I hold onto recovery.
  • The stupid bone thing. Apparently some of the damage might be partially reversible (doctors are so clear on these things), and I’d love to be allowed to do inversions in yoga, dance en pointe without fear, and be able to kickbox, or play contact football, or just be reckless without having to hold back.
  • My stupid memory. I notice everything, and remember everything, but lately it seems to be selective. Ok, very selective. I have a big problem remembering people’s names. And faces. I would be the worst police witness. I could tell you what shoes the person had on, maybe their hair color, but facial features? Might as well ask me to guess their birth date. I have to see a person many times, for long periods of time, or see a picture of them to remember their face. Weird.
  • Losing friends. I’m not talking people who peace out because they can’t handle your eating disorder (that sucks, too), but the fact that I couldn’t even hang out with friends who did stick around: “Wanna go out for dinner?” No, can’t eat. “Drinks?” No, too many calories. “A movie?” Only if it’s between the hours of 3 and 7, because I don’t know how long it would take me to walk to the theatre, and any other time would interfere with my food and exercise rituals. It’s hard to hang out with someone with so many rules.

I’m sure there are many more things that sucked, but nothing stood out as much as the last one:

  • The inability to express myself. Yes, there are many fears around taking up space, saying the wrong thing, etc., and when I get scared or emotional, I lose the ability to speak altogether, but this is different. I remember vividly, many times in group or sessions (really, the only activities I did when I was in my “rock bottom” times) when I’d have something to say, something important, something that might help someone else, and no matter how slowly I spoke or how much I focused, I couldn’t form coherent sentences. It would frustrate me so much, and people would humor me, but I knew it just wasn’t coming out right.

Nowadays, I can usually get out the things I want to say (except when I’m scared, emotional, or unworthy), at least in writing, if not verbally. Hence the blog. I always know when I’ve slipped too far off my meal plan, because my coherence is the first thing to go.

What are the things that keep you from going back to before? It doesn’t have to be eating disorder related. We all have former selves that we work hard to leave behind. Let me know!

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4 Comments

Filed under Blatherings

4 responses to “We Can Never Go Back To Before

  1. Andrea Ahlers

    I’m in recovery for “perfectionism”. A mental illness linked to depression. I am a professional, worked hard in school and yet never felt that I added up to much of anything. Last summer I pushed myself harder then I have before and ended up a shell, pretending that all was well, but in fact, I was screaming inside. After nearly a year of therapy, I’m still working at the same profession, but have a much better ability to leave things as they are, rather than continually tweaking until I can barely stand the sound of my own voice.

    I can’t go back to how I was before. I don’t want to be that person. But what I can do is remember that I am an authentic presence and I don’t want to get “better”, I want to get “different”. Two completely different things…know what I mean?

  2. That’s hard that you have so many after effects from your eating disorder.
    I had an eating disorder – but apart from my teeth being very sensitive and maybe bad eyesight is also down to past bad nutrition I’m pretty ok. Although now you mention the memory thing – that does sound very familar to me…

    • Thanks for sharing, Claudia. I’m glad you’re ok. I’m trying to stay positive that these things will get better with time. As far as after effects go, I figure I got off pretty lucky. It could have been so much worse.

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