Sometimes I just want to know what happens to people, in a broad sense, when they “recover” from anorexia, or go into recovery? Is there any clinical evidence? They have these books for pregnant women, What to Expect When You’re Expecting—I would like something like that for current and former anorexia sufferers. I don’t say former anorexics, because I don’t believe there is such a thing. But a guideline of sorts, to let us know what we’re going to have to go through. And so I’ll find myself of an evening searching the interwebs for…..something. Something beyond anecdotes and individual stories. And ever y time, I come up with nada. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places, but I wouldn’t think the answers would be so elusive. I found something on AEDweb.org, “the consequences of eating disorders (http://www.aedweb.org/consequences_of_ed/2856.htm), with its laundry list of adverse health effects as a direct result of the disease, but not of the recovery.
But on my hunt tonight, I did stumble upon a gem of an article from the New York Times, “In Fighting Anorexia, Recovery Is Elusive” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/26/health/26anorexia.html). It doesn’t have what I’m looking for; it doesn’t have the cut-and-dry of “this is what recovery form anorexia looks like; this is what is going to happen.”
The article asks if anorexics can ever be fully recovered, and the popular response seems to be, no one knows. Recovery form anorexia can be likened to that of alcoholism: “the disease may be in remission, but the potential for relapse always lurks in the background.” Dr. Katharine Halmi, a psychiatry professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, says, “About 50 percent of people with anorexia will be able to reach and maintain a normal weight, but most of them are very preoccupied with the calorie content of food.”
This is why I reiterate my stance on anorexia recovery being a myth, a nice story but not something real or obtainable. Not for most of us. Because anorexia is a disease of the mind as well as the body (or even, the body because of the mind), it’s up to the individual to determine what her normal is, how recovered she is. One good day will not necessarily lead to other good days; likewise, one bad day will not result in total relapse. I wish I could unlearn the calorie content of every food I eat, but that’s like trying to unlearn 1st grade addition or how to spell my name.
I keep chasing that rainbow,