The Anxiety of Being "Sick" to a Recovering Anorexic

It's sneaky really, the way old thought patterns surface in the most intimate moments of vulnerability. Pale skin and dehydrated muscles feel like home again, their nostalgic agony for nourishment, familiar in the worst of ways. Rejecting food when we are sick becomes an excuse when we get better. This is a sure sign. The lack of need is not foreign to us, our bodies shaky stamina isn't scary but remembered. How we, people recovering from an eating disorder, can see these symptoms and feel comfort - is the reason we will be studied for years to come. We don't make sense to people on the outside, we are the outcasts, the misunderstood.

I remember this feeling, the false sense of control, the shiny signs to follow disordered behavior. Being sick brings back those memories, something about the lack of clarity or inhibitions. I feel like I'm back in that place, my body's internal state uncertain and in need, constantly. I fall for it every time. Enhancing susceptibility. Hands colder, a slower heartbeat, low blood pressure, fatigue. How a dysfunctional body can make someone feel strong is beyond me - but I feel it through every cell. I may know what it's like, but explaining remains an entirely different story.

Being sick, a common type of sick, has symptoms of an eating disorder that immediately instill my toxic relationship with food and body. Resisting food, losing water weight, too tired to move. I remember what I used to do. The actions flood back like a high river after a rainstorm. She is back.

Allowing recovery from typical illness may be common sense to your average person, but to an anorexic is comparable to climbing a mountain. A steep one with icy paths and slippery boots. Just rest, eat what sounds good, reduce stress, drink liquids. Yeah, those typical things, that common sense is out the window. Intuition for self care is lost on people like me. We see things, especially the tolerance of our external shell in much contrast to healthy individuals. Resting - it's climbing to the top of something you have never quite been able to reach. Eating to fuel your weak and intolerant body - is not turning your back and heading for the bottom. Doing the "right thing" is resisting the temptation to once again adopt your beloved tendencies. The ones that kept you safe from life. It's not just recovering from the stomach flu, but recovering from mental illness, not letting that journey defeat this one. All of it, is about continuing to climb the mountain.

The way it brings you in, the voice of manipulation in a starving body. You fall only to discover that once again, you were wrong. Refusing to get better just made your more sick. You listened to the liar, the monster who stole your friends and made you afraid, the one that convinced you to stay small and silent, to be unimpacted and untouched. I wish I could make it go away. I wonder if the good days will get longer and the bad ones will slowly diminish as my life becomes more meaningful than menus and appointments. You'd think self awareness was enough, but if that were true treatment centers wouldn't exist. Eating disorders would not be a mental illness. Anorexia nervosa wouldn't have a 10% mortality rate. If that were true, we would not be so misunderstood.

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