Eternal Vigilance

8 10 2010
So I know I owe you guys an update. Eating disorders are so cyclic. It seems to be “really good” or “really bad” and it goes from 0 to 60 faster than anything I’ve known. One blogger I follow, ED-Bites uses the traffic light system to figure out where she is, recovery wise. It seems to be a really good system and one that I’m going to have to give more thought to. In the meantime, I give you a quote:
The price you pay for freedom is eternal vigilance.
— Mad Eye Moody
Avid Harry Potter fan, here . . . . Mad Eye Moody definitely has a point, though. When you deal with an illness as potent and powerful as anorexia, it’s entirely possible (to borrow ED-Bites analogy) to go from Green Light (recovery) to RED LIGHT (Get help NOW!) in as little as a few days. Some of us (and I tend to be one of these people) completely bypass the Yellow Light. I’m either fine, or I’m not. There is very little middle-of-the-road. The trick to being free from an eating disorder is to be ever vigilant against the signs and symptoms and seek help early.
Today, I just urge everyone to remember how strong you are. When you feel like giving up, remember why you’ve hung on for so long in the first place. Also, here are some common signs of relapse to remember:
EARLY SIGNS OF ED RELAPSE
  • You have thoughts about cheating on your meal plan/calorie count.
  • You find yourself wondering what your weight is more frequently.
  • Your internal voice is getting slightly more critical.
  • You find yourself remember favorable parts of ED.
  • You have a vague, passing sense of anxiety.

MIDDLE SIGNS OF ED RELAPSE

  • You find yourself cutting out “fringe foods” like fruit after dinner, a special treat or salad.
  • You find yourself shaving calories in any way possible.
  • You find yourself thinking that “a little bit never hurt anyone.”
  • You find yourself fudging the truth with your treatment team.
  • You don’t finish portions.
  • You start noticing slightly increased anxiety.
  • You start noticing thoughts about safe/unsafe foods.
  • You start having lapses. (Single instances of missing meals or purging.)
  • You notice that you don’t really care what kinds of foods are around or not. (Grocery trips are less frequent.)

LATE SIGNS OF ED RELAPSE

  • Instead of hanging onto the cliff with your fingernails, you let go and shove back from the edge.
  • The thoughts are constant and overwhelming.
  • Anxiety and depression levels are high.
  • You avoid situations with food.
  • Outright lying to your treatment team
  • Grocery trips cause intense anxiety.
  • Intake dwindles/purging increases
  • Fear and panic is more and more common.
  • Weight loss of more than 5-10 pounds within a month
  • Clothes that fit are too loose.
  • Shifts towards a primarily liquid diet
  • Weighing yourself multiple times a day
  • Increased pill/laxative use
  • Increased compulsive exercise
  • Planning fasts
  • Digging out the ana/mia playlist
  • Increase in self-harm
  • Fear of talking with your treatment team
  • Shame/desolation
  • Telling yourself that you’ll only do it for a “little while”
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