Being pregnant can be mentally and emotionally challenging enough, but being pregnant with an eating disorder is especially challenging. When I found out I was expecting my first child, I was still struggling with my eating disorder. However, I still managed to have a healthy pregnancy and child.
As a young woman, I am unfortunately no stranger to crude—and sometimes coercive—innuendos aimed in my direction. Like countless other women, I have been taught to use car keys as weapons of self-defense, and I know all the tactics designed to repel an attacker. However, not until I was sexually assaulted in 2017 did I recognize the full impact of this type of violation and the residual trauma it causes. Nor was I ready for how this would further exacerbate and complicate my eating disorder. But three years later, the truth remains: my eating disorder makes it difficult to heal from sexual assault.
Eating disorders during pregnancy are serious. When I found I was pregnant with my son over 10 years ago, I was still firmly in the grip of my eating disorder. I had what was known as eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS), now referred to as other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED). As my doctor explained it, this is a name used to describe people who did not categorically check all the boxes of anorexia nervosa or bulimia, but still had a high-risk eating disorder.
In November of 2019, I moved to Arizona where the mountains and desert landscape are right outside my window. Before that, I lived in Florida, about 10 minutes away from the Gulf of Mexico's turquoise ocean and sugar-white sand. I always feel the most alive and at peace when I am outside, so it stands to reason, nature is my first line of defense in eating disorder recovery.
In this video blog, I'm sharing my tips for grocery shopping in eating disorder recovery. I know how stressful shopping for food can be for those of us in eating disorder recovery, particularly people in early recovery who are still trying to form healthy, nurturing relationships with food. Over the last decade, however, I've developed some strategies to make grocery shopping not only easier but even a source of joy.
While these past several months of social distancing have been necessary to help contain the global pandemic, this continued isolation can adversely impact mental health. That is true for conditions across the mental illness spectrum, but I am particularly concerned about eating disorders and suicidal thoughts in the climate of COVID-19. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
The suicidal thoughts that plagued my mind in the throes of my eating disorder recovery were expected. I hated my body. I hated myself. I hated my life and the society in which I lived that kept telling me I was not enough. One thing I did not expect was to still feel suicidal thoughts during my eating disorder recovery. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
An estimated 9.2 million adults in the U.S. live with more than one form of mental illness, and that statistic does not even count the numerous children and people across the globe who experience this reality also. Two mental health issues that can co-exist with one another are eating disorders and panic attacks, both of which can escape detection or diagnosis. While panic attacks can range in severity and escalate for a number of different reasons, many of the same fears that cause eating disorder behaviors can contribute to panic attacks as well. If your eating disorder often co-exists with panic attacks, coping mechanisms are available to you.
One of the most unsettling parts of my eating disorder recovery were the dreams about binge eating. These dreams which featured me eating too much and struggling with the guilt and my desire to purge, followed me into recovery, and I was surprised: I thought when I decided I was done with my bulimia, my bulimia should have been done with me.
Whether your therapist suggests that you start writing about eating disorders or you decided to start on your own, there are many benefits to the practice. However, not everyone writes about their experiences for the same reason.