National Eating Disorders Association

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Older Anorexic Triggered by Pandemic


I'm here because I don't know where else to go. I'm 71 years old, there are people who love me, and I'm in a very good 12 step program. My therapist is very concerned about me. I simply don't want to sound like a broken record, or take my distress someplace where it isn't welcome.

I have been at a low weight for years, but my doctor has considered me healthy. When the pandemic hit, all the medical offices closed up and I could no longer go in for weight checks. Then my stress levels skyrocketed, I was injured in a bad fall, and I'm dealing with severe chronic pain that makes it hard for me to walk. (I love walking, it is my main form of exercise, and I am accustomed to walking considerable distances to maintain my mental and physical health. I also live with chronic severe depression.)

Every day when I wake up, I think "okay this is a new day! You can make it good!" Then it begins, I'm able to eat breakfast but everything after that is a battle. The isolation is overwhelming. I don't feel like doing any of the things I love to do, and I'm ashamed to talk about any of this with my friends. I don't feel I can bring it to my 12 step program because it isn't directly related to the disease we are there to talk about, and I don't want to seem like a drama queen.

I'm too old for this, but I know one doesn't truly outgrow eating disorders. I'm very very sad, but feeling like I need to keep all of this quiet. I'm on the verge of tears a great deal of the time.

It's very good of you to read this.


You're not alone

Hi grievingpiantist, I don't have advice, but I wanted you to know that you are not alone. COVID has been triggering for me and I have strong urges to relapse, something that's been rare and of much less intensity for around twenty years. I understand how frustrating and disappointing being back here is. I feel like I shouldn't be going through this and that if I was strong, I wouldn't been here on the verge of a relapse. Know that you are not alone, both in terms of people who get it and are living it, but also in terms of people around you who are willing to support you. I'd encourage you to share with your therapist and your 12 step group what's been going on for you. Health issues are related and I suspect they'll understand that and also understand that COVID has changed everything, so sometimes people might veer from the "norm." Sending support.

Thanks, pursoul. It's good to

Thanks, pursoul. It's good to know I have company among the "veteran" anorectics. (I get all over myself because I have lived with it for so long.) It's a heartbreaking disease, isn't it. Even when I am well, I don't really know what I look like (mirrors tell me I am fat, regardless of what my weight is). In some ways, I am grateful to know this - I am beginning to ignore the messages I send myself about my appearance. It takes work. I don't think relapse at this age has anything to do with body image, and everything to do with fear, loss, and grief.

Yes, COVID has changed everything. I've been advised to keep my ED out of my twelve-step meetings, since the real focus there needs to remain on working the twelve steps. That's a bit challenging and I feel silenced by it, but the rules are not about me.

So it's good (and hard) to be here. Thanks so much for your kind words.

Hi GrievingPianist,

First of all, thank you for coming here and sharing your experience. Second, I want you to know that you are NOT alone. There are many of us who are very young and that have struggled with eating disorders for many years. But still, there is HOPE. I really encourage you to meet with your therapist more often (if possible) and to continue to work on your eating disorder and depression issues.
COVID has changed everyone's lives and I have also had some slips every once and then.
To be honest, I don't think your friends and loved ones would mind or get tired of being a listening ear to you. They appreciate you and for sure they want you to be okay.
As you mentioned, every day is a new beginning. But not only every new day, also every single second of our lives. Take one minute at a time, one meal at a time, etc.
With regards to walking, I know how being unable to work out feels when you have done it all your life. Check if you qualify for some physical therapy so you can recover quickly from your fall and at the same time start mobilizing your muscles and joints.


*so much virtual hugs and love*

Hello, I hope your are doing a bit better today. I wanted to tell you that you are welcome here. I don't come on here as often as I really should but every time I do, it has been a really good source of support and information.
I wish we could outgrow eating disorders! That would be amazing, wouldn't it? Unfortunately, they have a way of sticking around until they are completely treated in whatever the right way happens to be for us. It's really hard and completely understandable why you would be struggling with this right now. Can you see your therapist more? (via video of course). Can you spend more time with friends, even just over the phone? I think you need a way to feel less isolated. Your problems and needs should not be ignored and I'll bet your friends would love to help you if you will let them.
I'm in my mid 30's and struggled with anorexia and bulimia since I was a kid. It's a long journey. Please keep talking and reaching out.

Thank you everyone

I'm so grateful that I have found this forum! I also found another support group, which is worldwide and meets online. I can go there and told the truth. It is so comforting. I'm eating more. I saw my doctor Tuesday and I've increased weight a little bit. I told my anorexia voice, literally, to "shut up!" It worked. I wasn't upset by the bigger number, I was relieved by it. Still, the challenge of eating more is — well, the challenge of eating more. I'm doing it, I'm getting used to it, I'm also getting used to hating it. It's wonderful that all of you who are younger have found your way here. I wish I had had a resource like this decades ago, when anorexia was not recognized as an addictive disorder or even a mental illness. You just got slammed into the local hospital and fed, and fed, and fed. If that didn't work, they put you in the psych wing and give you the most medieval drugs in the world. So I didn't really start getting help that worked until I left the residential treatment center where I spent several weeks a decade ago. I think the problem with that program was they focused on eating disorders as a disease you can get over, and I knew that that wasn't true. It's a disease that you have to plan on battling for the rest of your life, just as you do alcoholism. In fact, when I got out of residential treatment, I relapsed immediately. This time I had a doctor who was absolutely THERE for me. She understood why treatment had flopped. At my age, I can't let that happen again. At my age (at any age), a serious relapse could be life-threatening. I want to say to all of you, keep going! I love seeing so many of you working recovery so diligently. I really admire you. And thanks for your support of this aging hippie who's still trying to get free.

Sending hugs from a middle aged hippie

Sending you hugs and hoping you are well. I am 46 and finally facing my ED head-on for the first time since my 20's. Some rough stuff over the past few years triggered me, something I thought I had been "over" for decades. The pandemic pushed it over the edge and I lost more, exercised more and really started to have some hormone and medical issues. I thought I would just tell myself to start eating and that was that but it's proving to be a lot harder than I expected. I've been doing some Enneagram work to really dig deep into motivations but am truly just now accepting that this will always be a part of my life's journey.

Hugs from another hippie

Hugs to all of you reading this! Happy autumn and hoping the season brings strength and encouragement