Getting your period back doesn't mean you're recovered
So today I got my period back.
What an opener right? But here's the thing, getting my period back has brought up some unexpected feelings for me, and so I wanted to have a chat about a few of them!
Throughout my ED my periods have been a bit on and off, but the longest I've gone without one has been 3 months, and that ended this morning. Instinctively I knew I should be happy as this is a physical affect of recovery, and so shows my body is healing, however any momentary positivity that did wash over me was quickly replaced by something else...
Whilst I've been ill I have always been insecure about the fact my menstrual cycle was not completely out of whack, and the fact I never suffered other effects of being underweight, such as hair loss, or dangerous blood results. I think this ties into the idea of "not being sick enough", as I felt I couldn't really be that unwell if my body was still managing to function relatively okay. Furthermore, it fed my comparison issues, as seeing other sufferers or recovery accounts I followed on Instagram talking about the things they'd gone through, I felt inadequate, and my ED told me that they must be "better anorexics" than me. It was as if despite the fact I knew I didn't really want these problems, the disordered part of me needed them to validate my suffering.
In these posts, I always try to offer a solution to any issue I'm addressing, or at least some advice on how to deal with it, but I'm a bit lost here. I think what's helped me is to adapt my different bodies, different needs mantra to fit this situation, by remembering that what someone else experiences will not be the same as what I or anyone else goes through as we are all unique. Other peoples struggles do not invalidate our own. Further from this, following my recovery mindset I should be grateful to my body for continuing to protect me despite the way I treated it. My ED has tried to manipulate getting my period back into the idea that I am 'already recovered', and so I'm getting thoughts like "you can't eat that - that was just for recovery and you're better now", or "You got better too quickly, clearly you were never actually ill". It is here that we have to implement opposite actions and go against this voice. We have to eat that food that it's telling us we can't have, we have to ensure we don't make any restrictions, and we have to continue nourishing our bodies. This is important because in the same way a BMI chart can't tell us when we are recovered, getting your period back doesn't determine whether you are healthy. Look at me for example, at some of my lowest weights I was having one, and that was when my body was very unwell... the two are related yes, but they do not correspond perfectly. We have to keep listening to our body and trust it to find our natural set point - It know's what it's doing and what it needs so we have to stop interfering! We also need to bear in mind that just because our bodies may be beginning to move further towards being healthy, our mental recovery will most likely be lagging behind slightly. Therefore, we have to keep challenging ourselves in order to achieve full recovery, and free ourselves from our ED's.
Maybe this post connected with some of you who may have had similar experiences,
Let me know your thoughts or any advice you have!
More from me soon,
Mais// The Recovery Bean