To celebrate 50k views at Moon Life, I wanted to share something special with you all that I don’t usually do. Today I will share the recovery story of one of my lovely clients, Elise. This beautiful soul came to me last year because she wanted to recover her missing period which had disappeared after falling into restrictive eating patterns. She was ready to heal her relationship with food and her body and get her period back.
I know that these period recovery stories are inspiring and great motivation for anyone on this path. So I asked Elise if she would be kind enough to share her story here on my blog. She is also incredibly insightful and has a way her experiences and emotions through her writing. I hope her recovery story speaks to you and offers you a glimmer of light if you are finding this journey tough or you feel that it’s not going as perfectly as it “should”.
Elise’s recovery story: The Nature of Recovery
“It’s like you have a shield in front of you. Imagine if you let down that shield.”
The eating disorder was my shield. It was like a protector from everything I could not control in my life. If I felt like my work was not perfect, then I tried to make my food perfect. The smaller I got, the more obsessed I became with feeling like I could control something and that I could achieve something. The achievement of being smaller was a way to isolate myself from the world, to not have to confront the uncertainty of life.
My eating disorder became my preoccupation. People became bodies to compare myself with and the voices inside of my head grew noisier and noisier. What was I going to eat later? Was the food I was eating too much? How would I reject food if someone offered it to me? Holding onto these thoughts and behaviors were painful and each night when I told myself I would do better, I still chose to make the same decisions the next day.
Recovery is not a linear process, but it starts when you decide to make a change and act on it. At one point, I went to Italy with a friend, and she saw that I was struggling. She told me she had been there and that she promised it wouldn’t be like this forever. Hearing her say that and seeing how she recovered made me believe that I could too. Moreso, it was a moment where I realized that this was not how I wanted my life to be.
I woke up each morning feeling like I had been run over by a truck and even with no energy in me, I got on my yoga mat and did pilates. My spine hurt when I rolled, my knees felt sharp pains in them, and it felt like sometimes my bones were popping out of their socket when I walked. Getting ready in the morning meant checking the flatness of my stomach and wrapping my hands around my arms or my thighs to see if they were thin enough.
My camera roll became photos of salads, comprised of lettuce, beans, and avocado. The photos became another thing to stare at for hours, wondering if it was too much. My body was crying for help. I had dug myself into a hole and I was trying to get out but the hole was deep, a culmination of years of negative childhood impressions around food, a desire for self-perfection, and a strong obsessive mentality that was fixated on food, exercise, and remaining thin.
How dark does life need to get before you seek help? The “I’m not sick enough”
mentality constantly permeated in my mind. The state of my body was not in its equilibrium. It did not feel safe and so it stopped my periods to help keep me warm, even though I was always freezing. It stopped my periods to help me think, even though most times I could hardly think clearly. It stopped my periods to help keep me alive.
Not having my period made me think a lot about what it means to have a period and to be a woman. It made me reflect a lot on how much I wanted children and how much I wanted to be a good role model for them one day. Not having my period made realize that my body was shutting down and so was my life. At one point, I remember saying I have had enough. I need to make a change. I tried to get myself out of the hole I had dug, but some holes are too deep and you need someone to throw you down a rope to help you climb out.
Over a year had passed without a period before I decided to get help. Journaling became a big part of my recovery. Hearing the way I talked to myself and changing the narrative became a big part of recovery. Self compassion and perseverance became another really big part. I never stopped trying to do better for myself. After four months of recovery with myself and Amy, I got my period. I got it three months in a row, and it was exciting to see how far I had come.
While now it has been over two months since I have had one, I know recovery is not a linear process. It takes time and patience for your period and your mind to feel normal again. Now, when I see myself slipping, the hole I fall into is less deep. I know as long as I keep reminding myself that I can be healthy, have a healthy relationship with food, and love my body, that sooner or later when I slip, I won’t fall into a hole but I will be there to catch myself before I fall.
Life is about becoming the best versions of ourselves. I have learned it’s okay to let down the shield. Feel the fear and do it anyways.
Can you hear yourself in her words? Maybe your story is different but can you recognise something? What I can say is that after working with many women desiring to recover their periods, is that this idea of perfection is nearly always involved. It played a big part in my story too. Wanting everything to be perfect and organised and never feeling like we measure up to the standards we set for ourselves.
This idea of perfection can then creep into recovery too. We feel that we are not doing well enough if we don’t do recovery “right” or if our period isn’t perfectly regular every month once it comes back. Or we can even feel that we aren’t “perfectly sick enough” to deserve to begin this healing journey. But there can be no perfect recovery story. Or more like, every story is perfect and plays out exactly as it should for us to learn the lessons we need to learn.
Elise’s story is not unusual. She is a great example of the results you can have if you really commit to this work. What is possible when you are open to reflecting on your beliefs, thoughts and behaviours mindfully and witnessing your own patterns without self-blame and judgement. So many of the stories we tell ourselves and the thought patterns we fall into don’t belong to us or simply aren’t true. But they stick and as time passes we become more and more attached to them.
Unravelling these messy entanglements doesn’t happen overnight. But it does happen slowly and surely. One step at a time. And eventually years later you look back and see just how far you have come. I still do this today, many years after I considered my personal recovery story to be over. Some days I reflect on who and where I was before and the journey I’ve been on and I’m still amazed.
So thank you Elise for sharing your recovery story. I’m so proud of you and excited for what’s to come!
Over to you…
If you would like to work with me 1-2-1 to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We will create a plan tailored to your individual needs and vision for your health. I will then be there for support, guidance and accountability as you work towards your goals, whether that is recovering your period, healing your relationship with food and your body, overcoming hormonal imbalances or increasing your fertility naturally.
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