Relapse

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It is clear to me that I have relapsed. This is my first significant period of relapse since beginning recovery. I cannot stop binging.

Looking back, I think that my health challenge was a terrible idea. On that Friday in my third week when I officially blew the rest of my challenge by having an enormous binge, I hit a switch. Since then, I have binged every day, multiple times a day, for over a week now.

I said that I wouldn’t punish myself for failing my challenge by restricting or feeling guilty. But it seems I’ve punished myself another way. I’ve become a full-time binge eater again, and I have no idea how to stop. Nothing is working anymore. I don’t know what to do. I feel so helpless. I feel so hopeless.

It was nice being able to spend time with my family, friends, colleagues, and boyfriend this week and eat freely with them. It was nice being able to eat what I liked without worrying about calories or recovery or feeling guilty as I ate. But in between those times, I was out of control. I was eating, eating, constantly eating. I was unable to stop, even though I felt physically sick from eating so much.

I don’t fully understand why this has happened. I suspect it has to do with failing my challenge. As soon as I failed my challenge, I gave myself permission to be a failure. I stopped trying. I started binging. Even though I finally felt confident enough to attempt a challenge at the beginning of August, I ended up sabotaging myself, failing, and seriously regressing. And now I feel like I’m back at square one: miserable, desperate, fat, bloated, and tired.

For those of you in recovery, it may be helpful to know that relapse is not exceptional. My relapse comes 7 months into recovery. Of course, everyone’s journey is unique, so relapse may happen for you sooner, later, or perhaps not at all. But it does happen more often than not.

It helps that a new month is beginning. It always feels better to think, “Ok, new month, new start.” But this is a terrible time for me to relapse. Law school was the environmental trigger for my binge eating disorder, and now I’m returning back to that highly challenging and stressful environment. In fact, I didn’t even start to make great progress in recovery until classes were over. Once again, I’m committing self-sabotage before I’ve even had a chance to transition back to school and try coping with the stress.

So what do I do now? I don’t know. My old strategies don’t work for me anymore. I need new ones, and I welcome any suggestions you may have. I am in a very bad place right now. I have never weighed this much before in my life. I hate myself.

It’s hard for me to concentrate on the positives, though I know there are some. I know that it’s never too late to start my recovery again. Life can get better. But it seems like an impossible feat. My life needs a dramatic upheaval.

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13 thoughts on “Relapse

  1. Oh dear, Kristen. I don’t know what to tell you except, that you are a wonderful person and I keep thinking of you. Fingers crossed that you’ll get better very soon!

    • Thank you, Martina! Helping someone with an eating disorder is complicated since there isn’t one right to do it, but simply knowing that someone is really rooting for me to get better is very motivating.

  2. I’m so sorry you’re going through this, Kristen. I know exactly how you feel. I have been there many times. Too many to count.
    Perhaps rather than seeing this as a relapse and feeling that you’ve failed or dropped the ball somehow, step back and look at it as just another chapter in the long journey that is trying to beat an eating disorder. You are not a failure and you haven’t failed. You are human. The binge period won’t last forever. You will become ready to try again, and then you will.
    In terms of strategies, when you’re ready, try anything. Try everything. Read uplifting books. Distract yourself with movies/TV/whatever. Meditate. Go for walks. Put your scale away. See your therapist. Perhaps try the Overcoming Binge Eating self-help program. (Have you considered it? I’ll be doing it as soon as my cast is off.) Do things that bring you joy. And take it one day at a time. When you’re ready to try again, perhaps just focus on normal eating. No calories, no restricting — just regular eating of whatever you want to eat.
    You are not back to square one in any way. Having only one significant relapse in seven months is a phenomenal effort. Every day we don’t binge is a victory, and that adds up to a lot of victories. But even when we binge, we are not failing. It’s just a pattern repeating itself, and it’s a bloody hard pattern to break.
    Again, I feel unqualified to advise, really, and I don’t know if I am at all helpful because I, of all people, don’t have the answers. I’m just coming off a binge period myself. But you are a caring, friendly, intelligent and driven woman dealing with an eating disorder and the stresses of life, and you are doing your best. It’s OK to forgive yourself, it’s important to forgive yourself, and you deserve it.

    • I’ve re-read your comment a million times. Thank you so, so much. I needed to hear exactly what you wrote. I’m especially thankful for you emphasizing WHEN I am ready. Even though I knew things were going up in flames around me, I just didn’t feel ready to start trying again. I felt terrible about that because I knew bouncing back as soon as possible was the “right” thing to do, but I wasn’t ready. Having you validate that feeling for me is a great comfort.

      You’ve given a lot of fantastic suggestions. I’ve just ordered the Overcoming Binge Eating book so we can go through it together! I love what you said about treating every day that we don’t binge as a victory. I will adopt that mindset. Your kindness and wisdom are so deeply appreciated.

      • Any time, Kristen! 🙂 Those days certainly feel like victories for me.
        I hope you’re feeling a bit better now. I myself have struggled with the “shoulds” and, as you say, the “right” thing to do, and I often self-flagellate when I don’t do them. But I’m aiming for self-acceptance these days. I don’t always get there, but I try, and it feels a hell of a lot better than guilt!
        Good on you for ordering OBE — Ill be ready for it myself in a couple of days, when my wrist swelling goes down. The program is a big commitment but I am so ready for it.

      • You’re definitely right about self-acceptance feeling a lot better than guilt. Yet somehow feeling guilty is a lot easier. Funny and awful how that works out.

        Now I’m curious to see what the OBE program entails. I realize that recovery programs are designed to pull me out of my comfort zone, but I hope it’s not something that would be too overwhelming for me to dive into at this time.

      • Long story short, the program involves logging everything you eat and drink, on paper, pretty much as soon as you eat or drink it. For a good few months. And then regularly assessing your progress.
        It’s easy enough to do when you’re on your own, but it means socialising can be tricky.
        I think it could work for me and I’m prepared to deal with the annoying-ness of it until it becomes a seamless habit, but everyone’s lifestyle is different. It’s just one of many possible paths to recovery 🙂

      • Oh ok, I’ve been doing that since I seriously started recovery seven months ago. The only times I stopped was when I went to the Dominican Republic and during the last few weeks (my relapse). Being 100% accountable about my food/drink intake did make a significant positive difference for me, and I have started again. When I’m out, I just keep a strict mental tab on what I’ve eaten and drank, and I record everything when I get home (so I don’t get questions/stares in public).

  3. I sadly have to run out the door in just a minute so I don’t have time to send you a full response now, but I want to encourage you to send me a personal email if you want to talk. My email is elise_faust@yahoo.com and if you want to talk, or vent or anything, please know that I am here for you. I will be away from home tonight, but have my phone on me which does receive emails. Just know that you are NOT alone and you are NOT a failure…and I want to do whatever I can to help and support you dear ❤

  4. Kristen- I’m so sorry you are feeling so discouraged and having to walk through something so difficult. The shane cycle…it’s a rough one. Just spent some time praying for you.

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