Today is the last month of 2016, and it is the first month of the year that I have not binged in. I’m sitting in the middle of day 11 binge free, and the feeling associated with recovery have been coming and going pretty quickly.
One minute, I’m absolutely thrilled that I haven’t binged. It’s almost a disbelief. The longest I’ve gone without a binge this year, prior to the current stretch, was about a week. It was usually cyclical, starting with my promise to do better this time and quickly spiraling into an attempted cheat day turned full on binge. The next day, I’d be right back to trying to be better.
Every week. All year. For every year of my adult life. From hoarding food in my college dorm and eating it all while my roommates were in class to taking the long way home from work to be able to stop at two or three different fast food places. So you can imagine my surprise when I’ve gone an entire eleven days.
You can also imagine my fear. It seems too good to be true. Usually, when I start getting too confident or too comfortable, the disorder rears its head and I’m suddenly catapulted back to rock bottom. It always happens when I let my guard down, and I’m afraid that’s what I’m doing now. Being fully recovered and never binging again has always been my goal—but I’ve never been able to imagine what it actually feels like.
So far, it feels less guilty. To be fair, I haven’t had any strong, compulsive urges to binge yet. I believe my new prescription for Prozac has taken most of those urges away, along with a large portion of my appetite. But, in most instances, my binges start with a gnawing urge that almost immediately gives in to action, because I always seemed to give up so easily. I would stuff myself, and then the guilt would begin. The guilt, the disgust, the promises—I haven’t had to deal with any of those for eleven whole days.
The thought to binge has crossed my mind, but I don’t even think I can call it an urge. Once something becomes a habit for so long, your brain becomes stuck in those patterns of thinking. So many months of driving through Wendy’s on my way home from work has left me staring at the sign while I drive past it. I don’t want to binge, but I wonder if I’m capable.
The hardest thing to do was not to stop binging, but to stop dieting. I can remember dieting as far back as fifth grade, and it has always been a big part of my life. There have always been the foods I can’t have, and the foods I can have. But this past week and a half has been a pretty consistent mix of “good” and “bad” foods. I have not lost control. I have not thought, “How much more of this can I eat?” I have not eaten in secret.
I’m still wary of the whole recovery process. Some that I’ve spoken to say that I “cheated” by using medication, but I suppose I never really saw recovery as a competition to begin with. My goal is to take this process day by day, celebrating each new day without a binge. Already, I know the urges will come back at some point, and I think that’s a good thing. I’m expecting them, and I’m ready.
Maybe the best part of not thinking I’m fully recovered is that I won’t be caught off guard.