For me, sticking to my meal plan after my first discharge from residential did not go according to plan. I couldn’t understand why, I had it all mapped out – I had timers set on my phone and specific times when I would eat meals. I even went grocery shopping and methodically planned dinners with my family. What was I missing? I could not have been more prepared. So why did the voice of Ed creep up slowly but surely, trying desperately to yet again take control of my life.
So I went back to residential, I worked hard to weight restore and I fought against the voice clanging in my head. And when I was discharged the second time, something had happened. I still don’t really know what clicked, and I still fall back and make mistakes daily, but something small yet important had shifted in my mind.
There was something in the way I could now go for an hour without worrying about food or exercise that allowed me to catch a glimpse of living in the moment. Or enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning without trying to find a way to get out of breakfast. Or laughing with my family and actually having the energy to do so. And the thought slowly occurred to me, “I am so much happier now than the false pretense of happiness I had in the depths of anorexia.”
It was as if I had been offered a window into the life I used to have, and the life I could have again. And suddenly, food and exercise lost just a little bit of the power over me. Granted, it wasn’t some momentous shift, I wasn’t suddenly “recovered,” but it was something and I grabbed onto this feeling like a life preserver.
Now, whenever I don’t want to eat my snack or finish my meals, I think about that concept, the idea of truly living in the moment, and I find that my motivation flares up. Rather than regard that snack as evil or the enemy I try and regard it as energy. Energy so that I can do the things I love, be with the people I love, and achieve the things I want in life. When food is reframed in this way, it loses some of its control.
So I have learned, it is not all about timers or preparation or even accountability. Though important, that is only part of the puzzle piece. I had to find a way to regard food as nourishment, something that is essential to living a rewarding life. And it doesn’t happen all the time, but sometimes, in the early morning or peaceful evening, I actually live in the present. For a brief moment in time, I stop worrying about the past or fretting about the future and I live in that moment, and that moment only.