Recovery

Functional Anorexic

(This post is as genuine and raw as I could make it, so please do not continue if you feel you may be triggered. It is not one of those happy or helpful recovery posts)

I am kind of at a loss right now. The past few weeks, few months even, there has been a tiny spark in me that has continued to grow. And it’s gotten big enough now that I cannot ignore it. I have been in recovery for 16 months now, weight restored for 14. The past year has been amazing thanks to an amazing support system, a fabulous school, and some new friends. I am so excited to be a senior in high school end looking forward to the next step–college. My body image hasn’t been horrible. I do workout some, and I have noticed my strength improve. Not gunna lie, I love the feeling and appearance of these new muscles.

But I feel like I’m faking it all. I have spent hours a day this summer researching different diets, watching bikini model tips, etc. I religiously log my calories into MyFitnessPal. I have gotten into the habit of counting my steps. I am ashamed to say that I have not taken a day off from exercise in a month. I pack food instead of ordering out when I am with friends. I eat more than a lot of people I see on Instagram in recovery, but I’ve still been a couple hundred short everyday for the past week or so. But my weight is fine. I’m even 1 pound heavier. So I feel like no one cares.

I am sick of being a burden. My family talks about when I was in treatment literally everyday. I know they are sick of it. And I am sick of my eating disorder too. But it’s still there. I can’t make the thoughts go away.  I feel like I am a functional anorexic. You wouldn’t know my struggle if you simply saw me, but on the inside, my mind is consumed by my addiction to dieting, weight-loss, and obsessive food rituals. But my weight is the same. So no one cares.

I don’t want to tell my family or my treatment team that my thoughts have been this bad. I am sick of bothering them. If I am completely honest, then I am afraid that they will either 1) think I’m being a control freak/attention whore or 2) take it way to seriously. If option number 1 happens, then they’ll just laugh at me and hate me even more. I can’t deal with that. And if option number 2 happens, then I’m afraid that they will not trust me to go to college and I really don’t want to have to miss any of my senior year for treatment. And honestly, my eating disorder is so comfortable to me. I can’t give away my little “secret”. It’s so stupid, I know.

I spend a lot of time looking on instagram stalking the #ngtube and #inpatient hashtags, jealous of those girls and boys. I feel so ashamed of being jealous of them. It’s not that I want to have my eating disorder. In fact, I think I want it to go away. But I feel like I’m the only one that can still see it there. I’m not sick enough for treatment. But I don’t think I can live like this for much longer...

I’m seriously eating for my family right now. I am eating so that they can enjoy their lives. And I’m eating for the girls on YouTube and Instagram who tell me that I inspire them. I can’t preach the idea that recovery is possible if I am such a failure at it myself.

So, here I am. I could keep going but my thoughts are just one big loop. I can’t stop it. It’s painful. I am so so so so so so so sick of this obsessiveness. Help would be appreciated 😦

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34 thoughts on “Functional Anorexic

  1. I was just thinking about this topic recently, a lot, as it pertains to me and my own loooong journey. Listen, you are definitely deserving of support right now and in fact this might be the most crucial (and possibly turning) point of your recovery thus far. You say the people close to you don’t know you still struggle; I suspect they do know things are not right. If you are still so preoccupied by food/exercise/weight/ED, don’t you think they notice that you aren’t quite there? Anyway, I hope you’ll reach out and get the support you need and deserve to take this on. What you are describing is not full recovery. It’s physical progress, yes, but now the hard part of healing the mind must be faced head on or else you will wind up back where you started, wasting more precious years of your life. (I hope this doesn’t sound harsh; I hope you believe me when I say I am rooting 100% for your eventual FULL Recovery and I know you can do it, you can.) (and so can I, I think.)

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    1. Thank you so much for your words. It is definitely hard and I feel like very few people know can relate to me in this situation. I am sorry that you have been thinking about this topic recently, but it is comforting to know that I’m not alone and I’m not necessarily just crazy or stupid or weird.

      Yes, I would fully say that I have made physical progress but that my mental health has gone downhill. I guess I should be open with my family and my team :/ I’m scared of losing everything that I have gained. And I don’t want to draw attention to myself. But you’re right. I can’t go back to where I started.

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  2. Hey you :). I know it’s scary, but the very best thing you can do with your family and treatment team is be honest. They will appreciate it and most definitely NOT laugh at you. Just because you are weight restored does not mean your eating disorder is no longer there. Even though your in recovery, you are still trying to get over your eating disorder and sometimes that feels more painful when you are weight restored because you worry that people think you are over it. If you are real with your team, they will be real back. No one is perfect and no one has a perfect recovery. You wouldn’t be human. And I think what inspires people the most is when you are honest with what is going on(like you are now) and still fighting through recovery and not giving up. Do it for yourself. You have a great life ahead of you. Do your best to nip this in the bud with the help of your support system. You can’t do this alone. I’m always here for you too ❤

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    1. Bella you are so sweet 😦 oh my gosh you literally are always so supportive and there for me. I really appreciate your kindness.
      Yes, I definitely think that recovery can be more painful after weight restoration. I remember when I was about 1 month in, I was all like “YEAH I LOVE RECOVERY! I CAN EAT ALL THIS ICE CREAM! I’M THE QUEEN OF THE WORLD!”… it’s like a honeymoon phase.
      Thank you, I am trying to be honest with you all. And I really need to be honest with my family and team because the longer I wait, the more out of hand this will get.
      Bella you are too kind ❤ I clearly have no clue what the heck I am doing in recovery, but I am here if you need someone to ever listen.

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      1. Aw I am so glad that I am able to help! You are very supportive and sweet as well! And it’s okay that you don’t have recovery all figured out. It’s a journey with ups and downs and we are all on it together. And thanks so much love, I appreciate that 🙂

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  3. hi dear. i just want to give you a big internet hug and tell you that i feel the same way. i cannot describe how frusterating it is to be screaming inside but not have anyone notice because your weight is fine. are you seeing a therapist or getting any kind of outpatient support? i can’t be of much help because i’m in a sinmlar situation (i’m fighting nonpurging bulimia, but my original diagnosis was anorexia) but i know one thing: the people who truly love you want you to get better. no matter what your faulty brain chemistry leads you to believe, you are not a burden. you shouldn’t have to struggle like this, you are meant for so much more than weight loss and caloric obsession. life doesn’t need to be this hard. if you need more treatment, you need it. plain and simple. it’s either now or later, because unfortunately, eating disorders don’t go away on their own. this will not leave you alone, it will only get worse and more unbearable if you don’t get help. you are worth your family’s time and energy. they may complain and make things difficult, but i am certain they would get you more help and have you alive than watch you be consumed by your thoughts. in a year, you won’t even have to deal with them on a daily basis. if you get help now, think of the beautiful life you can create for yourself at college: a life full of friendship, love, warmth, and excitment, and a life without the terrible thoughts, overexercising, and hell that is an eating disorder. Em, you are so worthwhile and i hope you can find peace 💛 if you want another person to support you, please email me. what you wrote and how you’re coping really resonates with me and i am sending heaps of good thoughts and healing vibes your way 💕

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    1. *I’m sending you one big bear hug back* I am sorry to hear that you are suffering from this mindset as well, yet it is comforting to know that I am not alone. There must be a way for us to get out of this mess. I am seeing a therapist, psychiatrist and dietician. It’s kind of awkward because my mom goes to all of my appointments with me. We are doing the whole “family based” approach and I don’t feel comfortable talking to them in front of her.
      I’ve been inpatient before, and I’ve honestly been wondering if a higher level of care would be helpful. I don’t know if it would though, because look at what the highest level of care has done for me. Sure I gained some weight back, but not a whole lot mentally.
      Kayla, thank you for your kind heart and support. It means so much to know that there are people out there who hear me and care and who understand. I wish you didn’t understand, we do not deserve to go through this<3

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      1. oh my gosh, i experienced almost the same thing with family based treatment. that was my only option after i was medically stable but i got not individual support. especially since you’re older, could you try talking to your therapist about doing some individual sessions as well as family based sessions? day program might be another option, as well. i’ve heard that it’s a good alternative to inpatient and that most people in day program are weight restored, too and are working on fighting the thoughts and gaining their mental health back 💛

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  4. and hey, give yourself a lot of credit because you are incredibly strong. your head is constantly throwing all of this shit at you but you’re still fighting the good fight and nourishing your body. that takes an insane amount of strength. you are amazing.

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  5. I can very much relate to everything you wrote in this post. Sometimes I just want to cry and for someone to know that I look okay but I’m not okay… It’s difficult for others, especially friends and people that don’t deal directly with you and your eating disorder, to understand that Anorexia is not a physical illness. You do not have to be engaging in behaviors to be struggling and now that you are at a healthy weight you have more mental capability to tackle the other dynamics of your eating disorder. It is odd that you mentioned those two hashtags you search, because I search the same two hashtags almost every night. I hope recovery gets better for you, I truly believe it will. It’s hard to imagine things getting to a better place, but as taylor swift would say “time can heal most anything” and I hope it gets better with time ❤

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    1. I am sorry to hear that you are going through these same feelings right now, but it does feel better to know that I am not alone in this struggle. It is so helpful to have people on here who actually understand my struggles. Taylor Swift definitely knows what’s up<3

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  6. Hello lovely. I think it is really brave of you to open up here and be honest. Its okay that you are not okay. Recovery is a long and bumpy road. The best thing you can do right now is continue with this honesty and open up to your family and team. I think most people recovering know that eating and gaining weight are of course very important,but the mindset,thoughts,obsessions can be just as crippling as when you are physically not very well. There has to be a balance between the two and they are both EQUALLY important. I agree with Kayla about perhaps having some sessions without your family if possible? Thinking of you and sending lots of hugs,strength and hope from Aoifs xxx

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    1. Aoifs you are such a kind soul and I really appreciate this<3 I have my next therapy appointment on Monday and I am working up the courage to step up and speak up. I need to do this for myself.

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  7. Hey Em, sending you a blog hug and sitting with you if you like. I’m glad you were able to write honestly here and I hope it helped a little to get your thoughts out. I hear how hard the ed voice is making things for you right now but I do think that if you could open up to someone on your treatment team about it it might help. I know how hard that is as I always want to just shut down when things get hard but they are there to support you and you need support and deserve support right now. I think what you’re going through is really understandable. I am thinking of you and sending you good wishes for help and strength. Cracker Jack the guinea pig sends his love too!! x Em

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    1. Thank you so much Em<3 yes, after I typed this all up I felt a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders (hopefully it doesn't show on the scale at my weigh-in this morning lol). I have my therapy session on Monday (the Dietician is this morning but I do not feel comfortable with her). Hopefully it will go over well. Your support and love means the absolutely world to me.

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  8. I am so so sorry that you feel like this and I can definitely relate. After I stopped a period of restrictive eating I became very obsessed with tracking what I ate, fitness and always packing my meals to take everywhere. I thought I was fine and fixed even but I wasn’t living. It’s hard to admit you even have a problem in the first place but you’ve taken this massive step in realising you are not where you want to be. I promise you you can overcome this and having followed your journey from afar for some time I know how strong you are. I’d definitely recommend talking to a family member or someone you trust about it and just be completely real with it. No one should have to go through life living as a functional anorexic whose life revolves around food. There is so much more out there and this amazing world beyond food. I’m always here if you need someone to talk to as well x

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    1. Thank you so Amy, it is so uplifting to hear that you were able to break these compulsive food rules. All of you are telling me to step up and speak to a family member and/or team member so I am planning on working up the courage to speak to everyone at my next therapy session. Thank you for installing some newfound hope in me and I am scared out of my mind, but I need to do this.

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  9. Honesty is the first step towards full recovery. I can’t speak to everyone’s experience but I think it is very common what you are feeling. I went through a long period of time being “functional” but struggling and feeling so stuck and alone. I know it seems impossible right now and probably unbearable but the sooner you do reach out to your treatment team the sooner you can get help sorting through these thoughts and behaviors. Recovery is a very long process and your recover team should be educated enough to realize that this is a normal reaction in recovery and they will definitely want to help you and support you in every way possible. Think of what your life could be like in a year of you take the steps now to be honest and start to take steps forward again. Think about how you want your college experience to go free of the eating disorder. If anything now is the time to speak up to your family and team because I know if they support you they want you to be able to have the full experience of college and will want to support you this year in getting that opportunity. I had a difficult time throughout my entire undergrad and now hold a degree that practically means nothing to me because I wasn’t fully present to enjoy it and I was so consumed mentally by the disorder that I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted out of life. I promise that full recovery is possible and that life can be truly amazing. After confiding in my team and getting the help I deserve (you deserve it too, no guilt) I have finally found a place where I no longer feel stuck and I am living. I am sure I could go on but I just want to tell you that I am proud you even posted this and are beginning to get the support you truly deserve. Have a great day!

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    1. Oh my gosh this was such a long and meaningful message for me to read<3 I am sorry to hear that your college experience was hindered due to your illness. It's true that what I'm "living" right now isn't truly "living". I am so thankful for you for sharing and I am so happy to hear that you confound in your team and have received the help you need. That bravery is exactly what I need right now and it inspired me very much<3 The sooner I get the help I need, the sooner I can truly live. It has been way too long since I've felt truly alive. Thank you. So much.

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  10. This is so real and so honest. I really enjoyed reading it, I’m undergoing recovery from anorexia right now and I’ve always experienced the feeing of not being “sick enough”, its this guilty and shameful feeling when you feel envious of people who, in reality, are on the brink of death. You can see its illogical, but the feelings are still there. Thank you for being so open and for sharing your thoughts !

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    1. Yes, this feeling of not being sick enough to receive help is something that I have heard many ED patients struggle with. Thank you for your support and kind words. It means a lot to know that I am not alone<3

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  11. I’m so sorry that you feel this way. It is such a suffocating and isolating illness and you seem to be completely trapped in it. It sounds horrendous for you and I can relate completely to how you feel. The best thing you can do now to help yourself is to be honest. Don’t worry about anyone else, it is your ED telling you to worry what everyone else will think. You need to put yourself first and open up about how you are really feeling. Otherwise, you will never receive help for something that you really need and deserve help for. I know it seems impossible to you right now to admit your problems around the thoughts of your eating disorder, but you don’t deserve to live the half life of a functioning anorexic. It is no life at all and you deserve so much better than that. If you struggle to open up verbally about your issues right now, why don’t you try writing them down, sometimes it is easier. Thinking of you very much and wishing you all the hope and strength and courage you need to get through this time xox

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    1. Thank you so much lovely<3 I am just blown away by all of the support that I have been receiving. It is eye opening for me to know how many others can relate to my struggles that I am going through. I think I am going to take your advice and instead of talking, writing down my issues and sending them to my therapist. I know that if I try speaking either it won't happen or I will stumble over my words. Thank you and your support means the absolute world to me. I hope you are well<3

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      1. Know that you are loved and supported so very much! It is a struggle that many relate to all too well, unfortunately, but it means we can all help to support you going through it. Writing down is by far easier than talking, for me anyway, so I hope it is helpful for you too! I’m so glad I was able to help. Here for you if you need anything at all! Xox

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  12. I sincerely think you should reconsider telling your family and/or treatment team about how bad you’ve been feeling recently. Nothing good will come from hiding away. I personally believe that mental recovery is harder than physical recovery, and it is also most important. (of course it is vital you are medically stable). If you don’t change anything, you cannot expect to get better Em. I realize that is a bit harsh, but I only say it because I do want you to get better, and I care about you.

    Do something today that will take you in the right direction. You can do it. Sending thoughts your way. ❤

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    1. Thank you for your time and support Julia<3 You have been a huge inspiration for me for over a year now, and the fact that you are here for me means the world to me. I need this tough love right now. My eating disorder will not get better until I make it.

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  13. Emily, I think it is so important for you to be able to get this out whether that is here on your blog or to your loved ones. Dealing with an eating disorder is extremely difficult, and hopefully your loved ones wouldn’t feel as if you are burdening them with allowing them to know the ways in which you are still healing. Really, they might think everything is all better—as I feel many who haven’t been through an eating disorder think you end up “cured” over night rather than realizing that it ends up being a lifelong recovery– and would probably feel awful if they knew that you felt as if you had to go at this alone. I know what you mean in terms of faking it, and I think the day in and day out struggles of recovery will to some extent make us feel like a fraud because it’s not something that can be switched on and off. But you’re not faking it! 16 months is incredible! You’re in the thick of it and you’re making progress, as best as you know how to. Keep at it! We’re all here for you dear!

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    1. Thank you so much lovely<3 Yes, I felt a whole lot better even after just typing this whole thing up. I am scared to give it to someone on my team or my parents though, but you are right. Unless I tell them how I feeling, they won't know. They aren't mind readers. Thank you so much for the love and support<3

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  14. Hey!
    I’m so sorry to read of your struggles, but you are not alone! As so many have said, recovery is an incredibly long process full of ups and downs, breakthroughs and plateaus. You just happen to be in a tough moment, but trust me – its only temporary and you will get through this. You say you are eating enough, but be honest with yourself whether it is really enough. I find that I hit a wall when I need to challenge myself, when i’ve become too comfortable where I am. As soon as I make the effort to challenge myself (whether I eat more or eat ‘scary’) I suddenly find a new lease of motivation to recover. Maybe something to consider 🙂
    I think you should definitely tell someone too. Don’t make a huge deal out of it, maybe just mention something like ‘i’ve been having more negative thoughts this past week’, and hopefully whoever you tell will be understanding. That bit of support (and someone keeping an eye on you) are crucial. Don’t be scared!
    My only advice for the other obsessiveness – stop cold turkey. Next time you want to search hashtags or read a bikini body article, shut down the computer and go outside. Play with your pets. Read a book. Watch a movie. ANYTHING that is not body or food orientated!
    You can keep fighting, be strong ❤

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  15. Can relate to this sosososososo much like you don’t even know how much of a relief it is to know I’m not alone. Honestly, it took me six months of bulimia to want to recover from both my eating disorders and commit to emotional recovery fully. I wouldn’t wish bulimia upon ANYBODY. But for everyone going through some kind of struggle, be it an eating disorder, depression, etc. there is a turning point. It can be a general idea, an overall struggle, a realization, or even just a gradual change. But my point is, it’s not happened all the way yet, and I just want you to know it’s coming soon. Love sent to you and I’m always here for you okay? ❤

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    1. I thought that I had reached my turning point about a year ago, but I think that I was trying to push it too fast. I am so thankful for your support! The amount of love and kindness that I have received on here has blown me away. Thank you so much for taking your time to help motivate me ❤ I hope that you are in a good place right now and that you understand how much you deserve recovery

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