I Am So, So Tired of Recovery

Posted by on Jan 13, 2015

Once again, while I’d prefer to be that ray of sunshine beaming down onto the dark and messy world of recovery, I wouldn’t be accurately portraying the middle ground if I did.

Sometimes, this recovery thing really sucks.

Fortunately, I’ve been in recovery long enough now that my new behaviors are starting to feel natural. I’m more taken aback to hear my eating disorder pipe up than I am to find myself doing something instinctively recovery-oriented.

But still, there are times that I get really, really tired of all of this. Tired of spending five days a week in therapy. Tired of medication. Tired of support groups. Tired of constantly thinking and talking about eating disorders. Tired of planning my food almost as fastidiously as I did while anorexic. Tired of working so hard to keep myself on this side of recovery.

Just tired.

Grant it, this particular fatigue was spurred by the ill-advised occasion of back-to-back appointments with my nutritionist and my psychiatrist last night (after a full work day), which is enough to weary even the long-recovered. And it didn’t help that my psych and I amplified our monthly battle over increasing vs. discontinuing medication (you can probably figure out who wants to do what).

Nevertheless, it spotlights a part of recovery that I’ve learned to anticipate over the months, and that I’m sure others know well — recovery fatigue. (Which isn’t unlike treatment fatigue.)

Recovery — especially in its early stages — takes near-constant vigilance. In my case, my eating disorder had been part of my life for more than a decade. The ED thoughts and behaviors were ingrained so deeply into my brain that they’d become second nature. So, when I began treatment, I had to first learn to recognize the parts of me that were actually the eating disorder and then begin the long, arduous process of uprooting a nearly 12-year-old habit. It was like learning the grammar of a foreign language: it’s hard enough to spot incorrect grammar in Spanish 101, let alone know what the proper phrase should be.

I’m happy to tell you, though, that you can eventually ease off the vigilance. Little by little, the new habits get easier as they slowly replace the old, disordered habits. One day, you’ll be eating something that had once caused you mortal terror, and halfway through you’ll realize that you’re having no trouble at all. (That really happens — I swear.)

TiredBut that doesn’t mean you’ve arrived at full recovery. After all, recovery is a process. (Believe me, fellow middle grounders, I too cringe at that phrase.)

And so, there are days when this whole song and dance of sticking to the meal plan, rifling through the cache of coping skills in moments of crisis, plugging your ears and singing loudly when your coworkers begin their diet-talk, and so on and so forth, starts to feel so damn exhausting. These are the days I have the urge to quit every form of therapy, never sign on to the internet again, and just try to forget that this whole nightmare of an eating disorder ever happened. Maybe then I’ll finally be free of this thing, this eating disorder, which somehow haunts me both in sickness and in health.

But I know it doesn’t work that way. I know that if I were to do away with all the defenses I’ve carefully put in place, then those old eating disorder habits — traces of which still linger somewhere deep in my neural recesses — would slowly and insidiously seep back into my daily routine. I know better now than to underestimate this part of me that declares itself as anorexia.

So, for now, my only choice is to keep fighting. Knowing that doesn’t bring me rest, but at least it brings some resolve.

© The Middle Ground, 2014 to present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the article’s author and The Middle Ground with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.