To Heal or Not to Heal – That is the Question

Anyone who has never experienced mental health issues, probably finds this to be a staggering question – why wouldn’t you want to recover?! Who would want to stay “sick”? Well – I am struggling to heal – and I don’t want to stay sick – but I also can’t seem to recover. Don’t worry – it makes no sense to me either!

Over the course of the past two years, I have been actively seeking support from my psychologist for mental health issues. The biggest priority was my eating disorder – I’ve had disordered eating forever and now that I’m over 50, I’m tired. I’m just sick and tired of it and I desperately want it to change. I feel defeated by it to be honest.

Concurrently with me being in treatment, I developed worsening personal issues that led to a deterioration of my general mental health – depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal ideation became daily buzzwords in my life. Over the course of the past year, I feel I’ve made big steps in all those areas – I’m medicated for depression and anxiety and my general level of mood is much higher these days. I no longer fantasise daily about suicide – now it’s just a nostalgic thought. And self-harm is becoming less prevalent – to the point that most of my scars are faded and the incidents of harm are now a month or two apart.

So – that sounds like progress. But my long standing eating disorder? Not so much…

The past two years has seen an escalation in behaviours, and every week that passes I feel worse rather than better. Why?!

I have no idea. I really don’t… I understand what to do to recover – I really do! I’m not entirely stupid – despite the obviously idiotic things I do every day. But I am cowardly. And I’m consumed with fear about my weight. In the past two years, it’s become so incredibly normal for me to despise any morsel of food that passes my lips. It’s incredibly normal for me to purge food as soon as I eat it – for fear it will go down and stay down and as a result I’ll “get fat”.

I’ve developed habits I didn’t have five years ago – starve myself a day or two, start binging and purging for several days, escalate it to the point I’m exhausted and sore, try to get back “in control” and be a bit “normal”, then do it all again the following week. Week in and week out. Yet instead of engaging in the healthy steps of recovery, I feel worse. I find I can’t do it. I can’t stop eating. I can’t stop binging. I can’t stop purging. Until I start restricting. Which I can only do until somebody notices and then the cycle begins again.

In addiction circles, there is often talk of “rock bottom” and I often wonder where the rock is. How do you know when you’re at the bottom? Can I get worse? Probably… Will I get worse? I hope not… Do I think I’ll get worse? Possibly… What will stop me? I have no idea… Do I want to heal? Yes – I really, really do. Do I know how? There is a missing link in my big chain of recovery tools, that I am still searching for. Still searching…

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