5 Years Binge and Purge Free
By Christine Saah
5 years ago I was in the middle of North Dakota in a small town with 3 other young people. We were running summer camps for the Church, and living hectic lives. We woke up early and said morning prayer before camp, went over the camp schedule, assigned duties for the day, and prepared our lessons. After the camp ended, we would have some kind of evening activity with the teens, or a pot luck dinner, or we went to a family’s house for dinner.
We had to also squeeze in team prayer and personal prayer. It was a lot, and while all that was happening I was recovering from an eating disorder. I look back and it seemed like an impossible thing. I wonder how I recovered from an eating disorder at such a busy time in my life and in a period that I had very little control over anything.
Facebook recently reminded me that I had written a post for Made in His Image five years ago when I was one hundred days binge and purge free. This was a huge victory for me, because there was a time when I couldn’t go a few hours without giving into temptation. Here are the things that helped me most:
Part of what kept me going was having a support system. I was open with my female teammate and I will always be grateful for that. She was someone I could turn to when I faced a difficult food situation. I also turned to certain mentors and friends from my college. Sometimes I just needed to talk to someone or have a distraction, and I would call these friends. You need to find your team, and it involves a lot of vulnerability, but it’s worth it. It also provided accountability which is important when battling addiction.
Turning the false beliefs I held about myself into truth statements was essential. I also needed encouragement when I was down. I had to remind myself that I was worth recovery, that I was worthy enough to eat a meal, that I was beautiful no matter what and lastly, that I was eating to fuel my body to do amazing things for the Lord. There were many more lies I had to combat but a good way to do that was to find quotes and put them on my walls or in my journal and even on the bathroom mirror. You can find quotes online, or find some encouraging words for battle from the Bible like Romans 12:12, Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.
I got rid of my scale. I went through periods where I did have a scale again or I did weigh myself regularly, but I finally realized I don’t need one. They can weigh me when I go to the doctor. If it’s too triggering to know the number, you can even ask to go on it backwards. I stopped letting numbers rule my life. This even spilled over to calories. 1` Maybe it’s not the case for everyone, but I just can’t worry about those things. I still have to try to eat balanced and be active, but I don’t think we were made to live for the numbers.
Prayer and Sacraments are so important for anybody, but especially in a time of recovery. Going to Adoration, and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist fuel our souls and bodies. Reconciliation is a Sacrament of Healing, and when we are battling the sickness of addiction we need all the healing help we can get. Prayer helped me give my struggles over to God, and some days I wondered why I couldn’t just stay sick. It seemed easier than living, and facing some of the problems in my life, but God just kept giving me a strength to keep on living. God really granted me the grace to share His good news that summer, and in turn it made me see that this good news was for me too! It was a very personal message of love that He wanted to show me.
It is also important to take part in counseling and to take medication if it’s what is determined best for you by a medical expert. I went back and forth in counseling and taking medication, but I see that it never hurts to just go talk to someone who knows what they are doing. Again, it involves a level of vulnerability, but we all know this famous saying: You are only as sick as your secrets. If you don’t believe me, go listen to Demi Lovato’s new song Sober. She was struggling while in the spotlight, and wanted to hide her relapse, but we can’t hide from our demons.
Lastly, I never gave up on myself. I wanted to give myself a fighting chance, and knew God had some bigger plans for me and that he was going to use all of this for His good, no matter how terrible it seemed. Now, I can share my story, and relate to people that are struggling right now.
You might be wondering if I ever relapsed after the first 100 days, and the answer is yes and no. No, I never fell back into a full blown eating disorder ever again, but yes I struggled with food. Sometimes, I wanted to restrict, or focused too much on exercise, but I never went back to the girl that was ready to quit school because of how sick she was. This stage of my recovery was actually recovery from my first relapse, and I was determined to never go back to that monster.
I hope this can help someone, and just pray that anyone out there struggling can come to really believe that you are worth recovery. You are worth all the treatments. You are worth it. There’s no question to it. You really can’t ever fully recover if you’re not rooting for yourself. You might not be at that point, but that’s why you have your team to support you. Eventually, this team wants you to want recovery and help as much as they want it for you. You have to want it. Now go get.
P.S. You are enough.