Dealing with An Eating Disorder Amidst Covid 19 – Sam‘s Story
When Deb asked me to write this article I said yes without even thinking about it. Of course I would want to share my thoughts on being in recovery from an eating disorder while being in quarantine! I’m so great! Sure.
Very brief synopsis of my adventures with an ED and body dysmorphia, I am now 31 and have been judging the shit out of my body since I was maybe 13. I have tried all the diets, all the workouts, all the methods and means of being thin/fit/healthy that I could find. Some lasted a week, some lasted years. But they were all in some way or another a veiled attempt at being skinny. I tracked and logged and cut and lifted and sweat and ran and rowed. I did it all. And no matter what I did or what I ate, at the end of it all (to steal a popular phrase, “no matter where I go…) there I was. Same girl. Roughly the same body. And it took a lot from me, my friends, and my relationships. It stole time and energy I could have spent on my career and hobbies.
My body issues came to a head one day last year when I stood in my kitchen around 9am and cried like a baby because I had so many mixed feelings on what exactly I could/should eat. A mix of intermittent fasting and heavy cardio brought about that particular low…but honestly it was no different than any other day. Except that was the day I decided to actually do something about it.
I have now read almost as many anti-diet books as I have real diet books. Intuitive Eating and The Fuck It Diet being some of the ones that really saved me. I also started to go to therapy (I chose the Eating Disorder Therapy LA practice, I can’t thank them enough). Along with a lot of support and love from people around me, I now feel a lot more comfortable in my skin and just functioning in day to day life. And then Covid-19 happened.
I don’t want to say I am at all in a place like I was before. I am older, wiser, and a hell of a lot nicer to myself. However, being more or less trapped in your apartment with your kitchen a few feet from you at all times and having all your routines, jobs, and general distractions taken away at the same time…well it’s a trying experience.
Don’t get me wrong, I have had days where I feel so focused on random hobbies and projects I hardly look in the mirror. But I have also had days (like the ones where I put off writing this article) that I doubt everything about myself, from my looks to my food choices to how I spend every moment of that particular day. These are the hard days. And let’s just say they have not been assisted by the “productivity porn” of Instagram…the last thing I need to see is a tan filtered fitness model doing pilates in her perfectly clean (and white…always so white) apartment.
On days like these, I really have to do some mental gymnastics to get my thoughts in order. I check on each mildly shitty thought, “do you actually feel unhealthy or did you just out on pants that came out of the dryer”” or “let’s not overthink oatmeal for breakfast…it’s fucking oatmeal.” Also I remind myself now and always that these days are not forever. Just because I did not feel like a healthy goddess of crop-top-instagram does not mean that I will not feel like that again (did I ever? unclear). Each day is so freaking different, any “rules” I establish are gone the next morning.
So yes, routines are nice, but I don’t believe anyone who says they’re still following an exact schedule at this time. Taking myself away from the noise is so important. My body is trying to help me survive a pandemic right now, sure it doesn’t look as dramatic as it sounds seeing as I am drinking wine in my pajamas, but it’s still doing exactly that. And yes, movement helps. I love exercising and am working with a trainer (who is very aware of my ED past) who writes me a schedule, but this is yet another way I have taken a lot of stress of choosing what to do from my day to day. I will walk my dogs a lot. I also meditate on Headspace. And I try to stop and actually look at my dogs and my fiance…something I often neglected in “real” life.
If you’re anything like me, your good days out number your bad. And that makes us truly lucky. But it doesn’t make it any less hard. So know even though you may not be a nurse or a grocery store worker or busy mom, your struggle is still valid. And you are enough for today…at least that’s what I keep telling myself 😉