A Hail Mary for the Dying

Anorexia nervosa holds the somber distinction of having the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. The havoc that chronic starvation can wreak on the body is extreme, swift, and cascades its effects on every primary body system.

Compounding this grim statistic is the fact that anorexia is notoriously difficult to treat. It is an incredibly complex disorder, with interrelated independent and dependent variables. It has a soberingly low recovery rate, with only 1/3 of survivors showing improvement in their condition over their lifetimes.

I am a data point in these statistics. I suffered anorexia for 23 years, failed my first, and only, institutional effort at treatment vacillated in severity for more than two decades, and only recently joined the ranks of the 1/3 of those with documented improvement. Since February 2018, I have gained nearly 20lbs, resumed eating meat, improved my dysmorphia, and changed my relationship with food.

I consider myself lucky as all hell.

And I did all of this by eschewing a primary tenet of the EDA’s (Easting Disorders Anonymous) dietary recommendations for those in recovery — to avoid regimented, restricted, or “extreme” eating behaviors. EDA believes that these behaviors are evidence of being “out of balance”; that they indicate an unhealthy fixation with controlling food and that any attempt to artificially regulate one’s nutritional intake puts a sufferer at risk for triggering and relapse.

And that makes perfect, reasonable, rational sense. I totally get it.

Except it didn’t work for me, and it hasn’t worked for a lot of sufferers, (who are disproportionately women and why I made said reference in the title), many of whom are no longer here to tell us about what did and didn’t work for them.

But I am here, and I am not okay with these stats.

And it took doing the opposite of EDA’s dietary suggestions to get me solidly into recovery.

It’s not as simple as just eating whatever I wanted, just in moderation.

. . .

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