Anatomy of Recovery

I'm Jules, a 22 year old recent college graduate. I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when I was 14. I'm 100% committed to recovery because I know how amazing it can be. This blog is about my journey and any help and inspiration I can offer others on their own journeys.
I tag all my personal pics "julespic" so that you can block the tag if you find them triggering. I also tag all photos of food with the "food" tag in case they are triggering to you.

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Ask Me Anything

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Theme by @yosoyprincesa.
"I've often wondered if you get freaking sick of receiving ask after ask about is it okay that I ate x calories?" With love, Anonymous.

I mean, I don’t love to talk about it necessarily and I pretty much always give the same answers but I understand that it can be really important for people to hear these things, sometimes over and over.  I’ve always wanted to make people feel better and supported.  Even if it’s repetitive and sometimes not my favorite thing, I’m willing to do it.  But yeah, if I’m in a grumpy mood, I do a little.  I’d love to say that I never do but that’s just not the case and I’m not perfect.  I try to just wait until I’m in a more compassionate and peaceful place in order to answer.

"I've been following you for a very long while, and I'm very proud of you. Idk that sounds silly even though I don't know you, but I just think you are very amazing, and you deserve such wonderful things. :)" With love, Anonymous.

Oh, you’re so kind, I wish I knew who you were!  Thank you so much for this message.  You’re such a lovely person to be spreading your positivity like this. <3

"i want you to know that your strength is so inspiring & i wish you all the best xx" With love, Anonymous.

Thank you so much for this, hon.  I really appreciate your kind words <3

"Is it normal to feel alone at times? during recovery i mean. Not all the time only sometimes but it creeps up on me and sometimes its like i'm drowning. I need help. Please" With love, Anonymous.

It’s normal to feel alone sometimes but it sounds like what you’re going through right now is very painful, and you certainly don’t need to be suffering like this.  Can you let someone know that you’re feeling this way, like your therapist?  It can be very lonely to be going through things alone.  Treating these kind of feelings is an integral part of recovery, just as much as eating is.  It sounds like more than just feeling alone is going on here, and depression can be a serious part of eating disorders.  

Maybe you can come up with a short list of 5 people you can call, text, or email when you’re feeling alone.  You can let them know that you might reach out to them and let them know if you want to be distracted or if you want to talk about what you’re feeling.  Sometimes it can be really hard to reach out.  Once, when I was feeling really alone, I just posted a status on facebook asking folks to share a youtube video that always makes them smile.  Having a routine that involves self-care and seeing people can also help keep the dark feelings from creeping up on you.  

Sending love <3

"Can you provide some advice on how to be okay with wearing summer clothes now that the weather is changing? I have been under an immense amount of stress thinking about how I cant hide in my baggy clothes over the summer because it will be too warm." With love, Anonymous.

I wouldn’t want to advocate you hiding under clothing, but I think it’s fine to find summer clothing that you’re more comfortable in.  Wear things that allow you to experience the joys of summer without being constantly thinking about your body.  You can try babydoll dresses, flowy lace tops, maxi skirts and dresses, and floaty summer skirts.  Everyone is different, but I found that I was really uncomfortable in shorts and tight dresses but quite comfortable in dresses that were fitted in the chest and then flared out or in flowy boho styles.  I can post some ideas if you’d like— just send another ask and I’ll put up some links?  Find some things that you actually like and think are pretty, too.

It’s going to take some time for you to get used to wearing less clothing in general.  You may find that comfort will increase with time.  To some degree, everyone else is also feeling the same way.  Remember that people are going to be more concerned with their own bodies than they are with yours.  Hope this helps!

"gorgeous" With love, Anonymous.

Thank you!!!!  ^.^

"HI Odd question here, can anorexia recovers have a flat tummy? I am exercising (It has been approved) but i wonder how long it may take to see a difference in my tummy, i am doing exercise that focuses on that are. Any advice would be great" With love, Anonymous.

Is this the same person who keeps asking me questions about tummy flatness, bloating, and exercise?  There’s no reason that someone who has recovered can’t have a flat tummy, if that’s how their body naturally acts.  Anorexia won’t permanently alter what your body type is, although weight redistribution can take up to a year.  Some people will never have a flat tummy at a healthy weight, others will.  Pretty much no one has a flat tummy 100% of the time because there’s food and organs in there.  It is meant to expand in response to food.  It’s impossible to spot-reduce fat, but if your core muscles are wasted away from anorexia, it may end up looking different over time.  Again, I don’t really give advice about exercise and body toning aside from using yoga as a wellness tool.

I’m sorry if this response comes across as rude; I certainly don’t intend it that way.  I understand really wanting your stomach to be flat, and that might happen, but I think that focusing to this extent on altering your body could get in the way of some of the mental work of recovery.  Best wishes <3

Anon- I’ve gotten your messages and I’m certainly going to reply.  I’ve just taken my sleepy meds and will respond in the morning when I have less of a fluffy bunny for a brain!

"[ed tw!] so I've been doing pretty well lately but the other day my significant other told me that they've essentially been restricting for a while now "accidentally-on-purpose" and I'm really worried, but they don't think it's a problem. I've been dealing with ed stuff for like 5 years, and I know there's no such thing as not a problem. But it's also kind of triggering for me, especially since they're smaller than me. And I feel bad and very conflicted and I just wanted to tell someone." With love, Anonymous.

Oh, hon.  That sounds like a really difficult and painful situation to be in, although I’m really glad to hear that you’ve been doing well lately.  It sounds like you just wanted to get that off of your chest, so I won’t say too much but please let me know if you want to talk about it or think of ways to handle your feelings or the situation.  I’m wishing the best for both of you and thank you for sharing your feelings here <3

"Hi, I'm starting to get better and i'm exercising to tone up my stomach :D Pilate's and sit-ups with some combat thrown in. I was just wondering if it takes longer than normal to tone or whether in a months time or so i should start to see the change in my tummy. I've been following a meal plan and exercising for 16 days now" With love, Anonymous.

Hi, I’m glad to hear that you’re doing better.  I hope you’ve cleared starting to exercise with someone like a doctor, nutritionist, or therapist.  I don’t really offer exercise/toning up advice in general.  It can take longer to build muscle if your body is trying to repair the damage caused by restricting or being malnourished, because all your cellular energy tends to be going towards that.  It’s probably best to ask someone else about these things, sorry.

"If someone had thought processes consistent with an eating disorder but did not act on that thinking, would it still be considered an ed?" With love, Anonymous.

No, the criteria for diagnosing eating disorders always includes a behavioral component.  However, the individual could be diagnosed with another mental illness.  For example, an individual with intrusive and obsessive thoughts about food and eating might be diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, since OCD can be characterized by obsessions, compulsions, or both.  It can be primarily obsessional in some cases and people may have intrusive thoughts that are very upsetting.  Someone could also have body dysmorphic disorder and have a strong anxiety or preoccupation about a perceived defect or defects in their body.  In any case, whether or not someone fits the criteria for having an eating disorder, being tormented by negative obsessive thoughts is something to take seriously and seek treatment for.  You don’t need an eating disorder diagnosis in order to feel better.  Take your thoughts seriously because you could also be in a higher risk position for developing an eating disorder.  Hope this helps!

"Hi there hope you're ok :) I am currently in recovery, following a meal plan and gaining weight. I was wondering, how long does it take for the weight on the stomach to distribute? I already have weight in my arms, legs, face and starting to get hips but my doctor says it is through lack of tone that my tummy is the way it is. Any advice would be great. Thanks." With love, Anonymous.

 Some people who have been severely malnourished experience muscle wasting, which includes the muscles of the abdomen.  When people refeed after this muscle wasting, sometimes they initially experience some roundness in the stomach area from bloating and from lack of structure in the abdominal wall.  The body has had to cannibalize muscle tissue since it hasn’t been receiving proper nutrition.  Neither of these things is permanent and they also have little to do with body fat.  Eating sufficiently along with doing activities of daily living like sitting up and walking around should restore these muscles to perfectly fine working order, although some people eventually (with medical approval) strengthen their core through things like yoga to improve general health and reduce things like lingering pain.

It is true that if you carried some weight in your tummy before your restriction that you will carry some there once you are weight-redistributed.  Generally people find that their body eventually settles back to a similar general shape to what it was before their ED, although this is more complicated for those who got sick and weight restored during their teen/early 20’s when body fat naturally changes location.  Spot reduction of fat doesn’t work, so this will end up having little to do with your abdominal muscles, although muscle tone can change the appearance in general, as explained above.  

Overall, weight redistribution can take about a year, sometimes longer, and it often continues in an accelerated but totally normal way if someone is still in their pubescent and recently post-pubescent years.  It’s very normal to be having this experience right now.  Just my two cents on what might be going on.  <3

"thank you so so much for the long answer. you have no idea how glad I am that i found you on here or how much you helped me, i knew you were the only one who could help me out there. you're amazing! just thanks thanks thanks and much love!❤️☺️" With love, Anonymous.

Aw honnnn, thanks so much for sending this; you made my day!  Anything I can do to help, really.  I know you’re going to beat this.  Sending you all the love <3 <3

Everyone defines total relapse slightly differently, but I think that trying to define a relapse if you are going to get caught up in whether you are bad enough or worse than before can get in the way of you getting help. It sounds like you are having a relapse. It’s very common for a relapse to look different from how being sick looked before. Don’t let your eating disorder convince you that this is just a phase or that it isn’t bad enough to be a relapse. It is. Many people don’t “want” a relapse; it’s something that can sneak up on you and sometimes come in a very different form than it was in before. It sounds like you are being perceptive about your body image becoming more distorted, your intake becoming restricted, and your exercise being disordered. These are all red alarms that are telling you that something is not right. The earlier you catch a lapse or relapse, the easier it will be to prevent it from getting worse or to get back on track. Your intake definitely “counts” as severely restricted, even if you may have had a different type of restriction before. I would be very concerned for your safety.
Generally speaking, a relapse signals that a person has returned to eating disorder behaviors, whether this includes some, all, and even different behaviors than they engaged in when they had their eating disorder before. It is a pattern of behaviors. A relapse is different from a slip-up or a lapse. Those might include a day where someone decided not to follow their meal plan because they were anxious or a day where an individual purges after a meal. Slipping up shouldn’t mean that you need to feel bad or beat yourself up about it. Its important to figure out what triggered you to feel the need to use that behavior and address what you can do to respond differently to situations like that in the future. Forgive yourself for having a lapse because an eating disorder feeds on self-hate. However, it sounds like this is more of a relapse situation than a lapse or slip-up situation. I hope you can get help as soon as possible because your messages were very worrying and it sounds like you need some outside help to get this back on track. Remember that relapsing doesn’t mean that you’re back where you were at the beginning. You have still put in all the work initially in recovery and that work hasn’t disappeared.

"Don't look at your body look at your soul. Its beautiful perfect and very strong." With love, Anonymous.

Thank you for the kind words.  I’m worried that my soul is not as beautiful as it could be and that I might use my ED to try and hide those feelings from myself.  Thank you though, I really appreciate it. <3