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Meltdown Medicine: Use the Tools

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I’m a recovering anorexic and bulimic. I have over seven years of not purging, over six years of not weighing myself, and over five years of not restricting. I’m a firm believer that, with time, abstaining gets easier. What I learned this week, however, is there will be days when that doesn’t feel true.

Three weeks ago, I had a moment of honesty and realized my eating had strayed from my original food plan. As an anorexic, I have to use caution with strict food plans as they tend to trigger dieting for me. But with my sponsor’s support, I agreed it would be good for me to follow my original, dietitian-issued food plan for a few weeks to “reboot” back to where I should be.

Changing the food wasn’t hard and actually felt comforting. But my inner eating-disorder voices went ballistic, and I found myself fighting with them throughout the day. It truly felt crazy making. The food plan became my anchor, but after weeks of fighting I found I was mentally tired. The other morning, my alarm woke me in the middle of a relapse dream. In the dream, I was very high from hunger pains and my first waking thought was “I miss that.” I realized I am truly an addict! The tears started, and my day was filled with a mini version of a mental meltdown.

The voices and sadness were so strong I could barely hear my wise mind, but I heard enough, and I followed my routine, including packing all my food for the day. I called my sponsor and talked to a recovery buddy of mine, but the tears were still keeping me locked in my office at work. Somewhere in the mist of my tears and overwhelming feelings I was able to look up a meeting. There was one not too far from me, so I made arrangements with my boss so I could attend. Although I was new to that meeting, I knew many of the fellows attending. Between sharing and getting hugs of support, I was able to pull myself together for the rest of the day. By evening, I was emotionally stable and able to look at what happened, and the voices stopped.

That day, I had to accept that there will be times when I’ll feel like a newcomer to recovery, and that it doesn’t mean I don’t have strong recovery. There will be days when the only thing I can do is the next right thing, days when I’ll need to be gentle with myself and accepting of strong feelings. Sometimes I’ll have a day when I’ll just have to trust that my HP is holding me and there will be an end to it.

The morning after the meltdown, I had a headache and my eyes hurt. I called it my meltdown hangover. Although my head hurt, I knew it was better than waking up the next morning knowing I’d relapsed. The Tools work!

— Kym, Beaverton, Oregon USA

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