Anorexia: Relapse Symptoms and Prevention.

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Recovery is a journey, not a destination. There is recovered, but for me, I view being recovered as a stage in recovery that can be achieved and maintained. With this in mind though, it also means that I think once you’ve been in the depths of an eating disorder, the ability to go back is always deep within us. It is a part of us, our history, our present and our life journey. That is not to say that recovery is not worth it; it definitely is. Nor is it to say that it doesn’t get better or easier, because it does.

Recovery is reaching a point in the journey when looking back you can see the real hell hole the disorder created for you. Recovery is not romancing the gains to be obtained from having anorexia. Recovery is knowing and being actively wise enough to know yourself, your triggers and how to fight them off. For me, there are a few red flags that suggest I am struggling again, and at risk of slipping.

For me, recovery is not saying that these flags don’t arise. Recovery is acknowledging the warning signs and knowing how to go about managing them to maintain a level of wellness. In this series I’ll be exploring 15 of my most predominant signs of relapse, and methods I use to battle them in order to stay well.

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Relapse Symptom: Counting calories.
When I am well calories barely enter my thoughts. I don’t count how many I have in a day, and I have no idea how many calories are in most of the foods I eat on a daily basis. When I am slipping I often catch myself checking labels, but not for health benefits, but for calorie information. When well, I check for healthfulness and ingredients, and if it passes my test in the shop I don’t think any more about it. When I am becoming unwell I catch myself downloading my favourite food diary app, and tallying every mouthful, snack and drink alongside practicing my mental arithmetic every time I want to put something in my mouth.

How I Stay Well:
I allow myself to check the calorie in the shop if I feel that I need to, but I don’t allow myself any form of tallying of calories at home. I delete all calorie counting related apps, and throw away all notebooks that have been taken under my calorie counting wing. I allow myself to measure out portions so that I know I am eating enough, and not too much of each food, but I try to focus in on my body to let me know when I have had enough to eat.

Focusing on calories is also a warning sign that I am experiencing outside stressors that are affecting me negatively. When I notice myself counting calories I alter my focus towards exercise goals, mood diaries and mindfulness breathing exercises. Usually these work in helping me to not focus too much on the calories, and shift my focus towards what is bothering me, which is the real root of the problem in these incidences.

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14 thoughts on “Anorexia: Relapse Symptoms and Prevention.

  1. A couple years ago I had to go to hospital to gain weight so I was able to leave my husband. I had to give myself permission to eat. But since doing that, I can’t stop eating. I’ve become a comfort eater. My body is no longer recognizable. I wish there was a tablet I could take to make the eating disorders go away. I wonder how I went from so disciplined and self-control, to this fat chickie that’s addicted to food

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    1. Hey. I’m really sorry to hear your story. I think this happens to a lot of people and evidently the emotional issues causing your eating disorder haven’t been dealt with. I think eating disorders are very much psychological and will never heal unless the psychological pain has been healed. Are you having any CBT at all? I feel like this is the same for anorexia and binge eating disorder which is why, when I become a dietitian I want to campaign for proper treatment for people.

      The same issues can lead to either disorder but the root cause needs to be healed in order for recovery to happen. Are you receiving any help at all? Gastric bands and referring don’t solve eating disorders. It isn’t about weight alone. X

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      1. Thanks for the suggestions. Yes, a lot of emotional issues have never been attended to. But I am working through things bit by bit. My height/weight and BMI are in the normal range, so I know I have a bit of body dysmorphia going on. I just can’t help but laugh at myself, a bipolar, which is characterised by extremes, even in the ‘food court’ I’ve gone from one extreme (starvation) to the other (comfort eating) 🙂

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