Recovery Update – Conquering Isolation

Sitting on the couch last night watching music videos from high school (talk about the nostalgia), I realized I am tired. Okay I know I am tired, but I physically stopped long enough to feel it. This COVID-19 experience has slowly worn away at my resolve and I have been left battling every aspect of existence recently. Most importantly I am tired of recovery. My brain has been immediately jumping to destructive behavior anytime anxiety creeps in which seems hourly. Not only have the thoughts been creeping in, but they have been lingering and utilizing the recent changes against me. One very large example is the mask. I am not here to get into a mask debate. I work around cancer patients and masks are essential and lifesaving to my patients. Wearing a mask can be an annoyance, especially during a long shift but I have had no issues with it. Until recently. Recently, the mask has been the latest excuse to restrict my eating. It has added another layer to the already difficult process of a meal and although very minor in theory, my eating disorder brain has attached itself tightly to this. It uses logical thinking (fear of contracting the virus) to delay taking off the mask to eat and before I know it, I did not have lunch. Luckily, I work part time at home and I am not dealing with this daily, but it is one example of how stress combined with new routines can alter the recovery experience. I constantly make excuses for it, citing this is just temporary. But then I pause to think and realize temporary is likely several months and I know exactly what a several months backslide will do to my health.

I do not consider myself to be in a relapse, but I realize it could go there quickly. I am not always making the best choices right now and with the ups and downs of quarantine I personally must be very careful about my day to day choices. For someone with an eating disorder history this time has unique challenges. I need to eat consistently so I do not overeat or under eat. I need to exercise, but not go overboard. I want it all or I want nothing. I want to get up and go explore the outdoors or I want to sit at home all day on the couch. I want to go for a long hike or sleep. I want to eat or not. This constant pull leaves me irritable and physically anxious. Which leads to the thoughts of self-harm. I need the grey middle right now while my brain is grasping for the extremes. Trying to explain the constant yo-yo may not resonate with people but I believe it will for those struggling right now. I am used to the yo-yo but add on a pandemic to it and it becomes engulfing. I remember periods of struggle within the past few years, but this is different and intense. And tiring. I have been in recovery for so long I have most of the answers but the thing I always forget I need is the support. The accountability. So this morning I sent a simple message to one of my therapists. I need to check in. I need to reconnect with my recovery. I need a mediator for my brain. I need a cheerleader for my current challenges. I need the reality check. I need someone to listen without fear. I need someone to walk beside me as I walk through this. I need someone with my best interests to guide my brain for a while.

I do not care if you have been in recovery for a day or for 30 years. I do not care what your specific vice is. We cannot do it alone. Within the current isolation, further isolation is only death. Putting on the brave face and charging through will only result in ruins. It absolutely sucks to be in this position knowing that I have an uphill battle. It is irritating to realize that I need to make my recovery the priority of my life right now. But the reason I sent that email is because I know the work is worth it. I know that as I sit here right now and debate over behaviors in my head, that once I start working on them with assistance they will diminish and fade. I know sounding my thoughts against another person will give them less power. I know relief will come.

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