Category Archives: Mental Health

Running and Competing While in Eating Disorder Recovery

In a journal entry from December 2018, I asked myself: “Can I be an athlete AND be in recovery from an eating disorder?”

The rest of the page was blank. I didn’t have an answer. And not having the answer to that was one of the reasons I checked myself back into an eating disorder treatment facility a few months later. While I didn’t know if my relationship with running and competing was disordered or enabling my eating disorder, I knew I needed to figure that out. Because the one thing I knew was that I loved running, and that my eating disorder was keeping me from it due to the string of endless injuries.

I’m now a year and a half removed from treatment. I’m running and competing. But I still ask myself that question regularly. And the answer is the most lawyerly kind of answer ever: “it depends.”

It depends on the person, it depends on the manifestation of the eating disorder, it depends on the kind of movement. Hell, it even depends on the day and the headspace you wake up in.

I don’t proclaim to have this figured out. Of all of the nuances in eating disorder recovery, I believe that navigating the relationship with running (or, the sport of your choosing) is by far the trickiest and most complex. So how have I been doing it thus far and what have I learned? 

Note: this is my experience of n=1. I’m not a healthcare provider, dietician, psychologist, etc. As they say in AA, “take what you need and leave the rest”: your situation may be entirely different. Please work with your treatment providers on what is healthy for YOU. 

Content warning: Discussion of eating disorder thoughts, body size and changes, and general food discussion. No numbers or weights.

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Reflections on a Year in Recovery

It’s been a year since I was discharged from Opal Food and Body after entering intensive eating disorder treatment for my third and hopefully last time. A year since I hit publish on a blog where I opened up about the silent battle I’d been waging for 20 years. A year since I felt like I got a new lease on life. A year since I finally felt like I could be me – ALL of me. 

And what a year it’s been.

I wish I could say it’s been all filled with sunshine and puppies and unicorns farting rainbows. At some points, it has been. At other points, it’s been, hands down, some of the hardest times and moments in my life. 

But as I reflect back on this anniversary, I embrace both how far I’ve come and how far I have yet to go.  So let’s start with the tougher stuff that I didn’t expect.

Content Warning: Discussions of eating disorder thoughts, anxiety and depression. No weights, numbers, or specific eating disorder behaviors discussed.

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Navigating Eating Disorder Recovery During a Global Pandemic

As I chatted with a friend on FaceTime the other week, I made the joke: “I dunno…maybe the silver lining of this pandemic is it will cure me of my eating disorder?!?”

While it was a joke (there’s no such thing as being “cured” of an eating disorder), for a few weeks, I had noticed that my eating disorder thoughts had subsided. Likely, the thoughts probably subsided because my old OCD habits and rituals had flared something awful, and I found panic around COVID-19 to be all-consuming. I was so caught up in my fears about catching a virus, that the fears about foods seemed to melt away. 

Clearly, it’s not that easy (as much as I wanted it to be). As I’ve settled into a new normal, and the OCD and fears around COVID-19 have quieted, guess what is still hanging in there? Yeah, the eating disorder.

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The State of Things: Fear, Anxiety, and Balancing Mental and Physical Health

When I was 6 years old, if I couldn’t get to sleep by 7:30pm, I would start crying hysterically. I was convinced I was going to die if I couldn’t fall asleep by then. 

When I was 7 years old, I was positive our house was going to burn down and I was on the second floor. I forced my parents to buy me an escape ladder and even refused to sleep in my room out of fear. 

When I was 8 years old, I learned about a thing called HIV/AIDS. I spent several months unable to play with any other kids on the playground for fear of touching a cut of theirs. I started to wash my hands several hundred times a day until they cracked and bleed. I was petrified of other people.

When I was 10 years old, I became intensely afraid of becoming pregnant (let’s ignore the fact I didn’t start my period until I was 14). I read an article in YM Magazine about a girl who got pregnant from a toilet seat, and I refused to use public bathrooms for years. I wouldn’t let my dad use the bathroom I used in our house. I couldn’t leave the house some days because I refused to sit on chairs in public for fear that there could be sperm on the chair that could somehow impregnate me. I was paralyzed, and I couldn’t go anywhere.

(Yup, I shit you not. That one really happened…ask my poor father).

Shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I went to therapy. They put me on meds. Things slowly got better as I started to face my fears and dispel the fear of the unknown.

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