The Choice - Navigating ED Recovery as a Person with Cerebral Palsy
Imagine someone blindfolded you to hear my conversations with my therapist over the last four years. You would know I have anorexia nervosa. You would know that I am stable in recovery even though comments about my weight easily trigger me. To be fair, I am twice the size I was at my sickest.
Eventually, you would learn that I have Cerebral Palsy and use a wheelchair. My life involves attendants who help me with personal care and physical tasks of daily living. They are my most significant resource and my biggest threat to recovery. When being lifted, pulled, and shifted into positions, I am extra sensitive to their groans and signs of strain. My mind is still eating disordered and looks for affirmation that I am too heavy and a physical burden. Innocent comments such as “You look healthy” quickly distort into a weight gain reference. This thinking is troubling. Fortunately, I have learned to stop these thoughts before they affect how I eat. Shifting my perspective is easier on some days than others.
I have always found safety in the ways I can ignore or satisfy hunger. It is hard to let go of disordered eating completely, even if it did almost kill me. I am a black and white thinker and it took practice to find a middle ground for living. With proper nutrition came an ability to regulate my feelings and the confidence to speak up and say when I am hurt. People listened. Recovery has meant eating what others eat. It has meant doing what is against my instincts because I value my body. It has meant surrounding myself with loved ones at times when I wanted to be alone so I could restrict. It has meant understanding that fat is essential. It has meant taking responsibility for extreme changes in my appearance and understanding that people may not know how to respond. Recovery is a choice I have to make before every meal and when I correct my distorted thinking.
Having an atypical body is challenging but harder still is having the mind of a person who abused herself. Sadly, I wish I could run and use my body the way most people do. Equally sad, I wish I could eat dessert without having to remind myself that I am free to enjoy it. Being disabled with anorexia was lonely until I found treatment. My therapist explained that my behaviours were common among her patients and I felt less strange. The road back to balanced eating, self respect and happiness has been bumpy. I imagine this is true for every one of us who chooses recovery. Many parts about me are uniquely obvious. My recovery from anorexia is not. But it is the accomplishment that makes me most proud; every meal, every day.
Christie Ladner enjoys acoustic music, being an auntie, writing, reading and being outside. Anything orange makes her happy.