National Eating Disorders Association

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New to ‘recovery’ for the first time in years, am I close to being recovered?

Hi everyone, I’m new here and am currently celebrating 100 days binge/purge free!

For background, my ED started 14 years ago when I was about 14 years old (wow, that’s half of my life!) I started out copying my sisters habits, who unfortunately suffered from a bad case of anorexia. I initially thought I was just losing the extra weight but it spiraled into a new lifestyle and way of thinking about myself and any interaction with good that I had. I became more reclusive and wouldn’t join others for lunch, dinner, etc. but my ED was more important to me. As I started my senior year of college, I met my first boyfriend, who ensured me that gaining weight would be better for me and that I would look much better. At the time, that and an antidepressant was all it took for me to let go and finally be okay with gaining weight. In just few months of intense binge eating (or maybe this was refeeding), I gained some weight. I couldn’t get enough sugar or carbs and would eat until I was stuffed every day. Fast forward to having a full time job, I found solace in my old eating habits and dropped a lot of the extra weight pretty quickly. I settled into a rather healthy weight for me and my eating fears seem to have calmed down, as I realized how much food it actually took to gain weight. Over the years, as I got more stressed out at my job, I seem to have slipped back into obsessing over extra calories. And this time, it came with the disgusting addition of sometimes purging after I “overdid it” (at the time, I didn’t consider it a binge.) I think it’s interesting how slowly it developed, almost tricking me into thinking I hadn’t changed at all. But it was slow the first time around as well.

It took a turn for the worse when I mixed alcohol into the equation and became more concerned about my daily drink(s) than my body weight or appearance. But not entirely. I became what is apparently known as drunkorexic, where I would save my calories for the alcohol I would consume. Because I still wanted to stay thin, no matter how unhealthy. As the drinking become more of an issue, the hinges would happen more frequently, and so would the purges. Eventually, I was bingeing and purging up to 4 times a day and would plan my entire day around eating and where to throw it up. Now it wasn’t a slip up anymore, it was pre-meditated. How did I get here?

The alcoholism definitely contributed to the binge purge cycle, but even during times of abstinence I couldn’t quite shake the cycle. It was the only coping mechanism I knew. Everything else seemed out of reach, like I just wouldn’t be able to think about anything else or enjoy anything else. It had fully consumed me.

This was my life for the last 2.5 years. Only in the past 100 days have I stopped cold turkey. I haven’t allowed myself to drink in any setting except social settings and have a limit of drinks. I also have not purged a single time. Now, I will say that I have “binged”, or what I would consider a binge in the moment, even when it really wasn’t. (Note: there were times during my ED when I would binge a lot calories) But in the past few years, my anorexic mindset was in full force, so even just the feeling of fullness would trigger an emotional response, leading me to want to purge. I always wanted to feel empty.

I guess I would like to know if you guys think I can be considered “recovered” when I still struggle with thoughts of guilt after a heavy meal and the odd urges to purge, although I do not act on them.

Hi Fro53n!

Hi Fro53n! Welcome to the forums! It's great that you are sharing your story and NEDA is here for you. We did have to slightly edit your post to remove weight and calories which can be triggering for others. This violates our community guidelines, You can review them here. If you ever feel like you want to reach out to someone, NEDA is here. You can call 800-931- 2237 or chat,  to discuss support options. Helpline phone hours are Monday-Thursday 11am-9pm ET, Friday 11am-5pm ET. Helpline chat hours are Monday-Thursday 9am-9pm ET, Friday 9am-5pm ET. We hope you find the support you are looking for and keep posting!     

Hi fr053n,

Congratulations on your 100 days purge-binge-free! That is a GREAT accomplishments and it talks about how committed you are to recovery.
Recovery is a process and takes some time. I think you are still in the path to recovery.
Stopping behaviours is the first part. The second part is reframing all the distorted thoughts we often have.
Keep going. The more you show your body how living a healthy life looks like, the more those ED thoughts will fade away.

Great job!

Thank you for being so open

Thank you for being so open and sharing your journey with us. And congratulations on the amazing steps you’re taking toward recovery. It can be so difficult to fight against the thoughts and urges, especially when, like you said, they can seemingly creep up on you out of nowhere. It takes so much strength to be able to sit in that discomfort and deny your eating disorder. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
For me, recovery has been, and probably always will be a journey. And it’s anything but linear. There will be ups and downs, but what’s important is the direction you’re heading. And it sounds like you’re pointed in the right way. It really is amazing that you’re able to identify disordered thoughts and then not act on them. That is such a huge step in recovery. And I agree with Annet; working on reframing those can be the next step toward freedom. Sometimes, a therapist can help with this. Are you currently seeing someone? I’ve found that writing about it sometimes helps too - just getting those thoughts and feelings out of my head. It helps to process and then objectively look at them.
Overall though, huge, huge congratulations. You have come so far. You have the strength and power to keep going <3