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Eating Disorder Recovery Message Board

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I know I'm a bit late, but I feel the need to respond to this posting and share my experience, as the honesty and earnestness of your post really moved me.

I started developing my ED a couple years prior to meeting my boyfriend, but it did not become a serious problem until shortly after he and I had started dating. We were quite serious from the start of our relationship, but I lived 90 minutes away so we mostly only saw each other on weekends. Six months into our relationship, I told him about my problem. I had never told a single soul prior to that, and the reason I told him was out of desperation-- I knew by that time that I was powerless to do anything to fix it on my own, and I needed somebody to know. I started therapy, but I feared that letting him in on this secret would forever change the nature of our relationship...and i was right.

We stayed together for another year, during which I briefly stabilized, but then ended up getting sicker than ever. I would restrict myself severely during the week, to compensate for having to eat normally on the weekends when I was with him. I felt I had to do this because of how he reacted to my ED symptoms. It was not good. I always blamed myself-- after all, this was MY problem and if I didn't have this problem, WE wouldn't have this problem. But in therapy, I was given mixed messages: "It's not your fault that you have this disease," as well as "You are going to lose him if you keep this up." He and I fought about food everytime we were together. He didn't seem to understand just how difficult it was for me, but at the same time I couldn't expect him to. I won't say much more than that-- he is a wonderful man, but unfortunately my ED destroyed our relationship. It also destroyed everything else in my life: I had to take a medical leave of absence from graduate school, and give up my apartment and move home. I stayed with him briefly, while I was at my absolute worst and was trying to find treatment. I know it was the most difficult thing he has ever been through-- having me live with him, not eating anything but walking miles and miles each day, being completely empty-- not myself at all- just this empty shell of a person. He stuck with me through it all, but somehow he was just never able to be there for me in the way I needed him to. I do not blame him for this-- I never did and never will. We broke up ultimately, although for awhile he tried to reconcile things. I was not the one who initially ended the relationship, but at some point I recognized that I had to be away from him. Anytime we fought about my ED (which was basically every time we were together), it caused me to retreat further into my disorder. It was only after separating from him that I was able to make any progress toward recovery. I feel horrible saying this, because I know it implies that he was not good to me-- but he was. He was wonderful to me and I have no doubt that he loved me immensely. He wanted more than anything to help me and be there for me, but he just couldn't. It destroyed him (I know, because after we broke up he had a complete emotional breakdown and had to seek therapy for himself). I cannot say anything bad about him at all. I ultimately just had to take it as a sign that we, as a couple, did not handle difficulties well together. There was something there that just didn't work with us in that way.

Now, I am not recovered at this point. I did end up making significant progress, but relapsed and am not at a good point at present. But I do have a new boyfriend. He entered things with me knowing full-well what I was struggling with, as he knew my previous boyfriend and was warned extensively about how "completely f*ed up" I was. Likewise, I did not hide it from him. He and I had known each other before and had a bit of a history, and he asserted that he was willing to deal with that part of me. While things have not been going too well for me with my ED, I have to say that the relationship aspect is completely different. I made a decision and a promise to my current boyfriend that I would never lie to him about this stuff. At times, I have wanted to, but I never have.

The biggest thing that has helped me to stay honest with him is just his nature-- he is very laid back, and has told me that he just doesn't get overly stressed about things. We are at the point now where our relationship is quite serious. He told me he loves me (and at age 29, I am the first real relationship and love he has had), and I do not doubt his feelings. But it helps to know that no matter how bad I get, while he may worry, it's not going to cause him to get overly stressed or upset (just because that is his nature). He still doesn't understand a lot (and I have recommended some books for him to read to help that), but somehow he knows how to react. He just always supports me, no matter what. Yes, sometimes he will be confrontational and say "you need to start eating" but he never presses it, and always says that he knows I can do it-- that it is hard, but will get easier, and he believes I have the strength in me. While he does ask me if or what I have eaten on a particular day, I feel like I can be honest even if the answer is "nothing" and he will not get upset or make me feel like I'm in trouble.

With his support, I have been able to find strength within myself. I don't know how far I have to go, or if I will end up needing to seek more intensive treatment (such as inpatient or residential), but he helps me to want to be better. While most of the time when he and I talk about how I need to eat, the conversation ends with me suddenly turning into a child and just saying "No. No. No. No. NO! I'm not going to eat breakfast tomorrow" etc, he allows me to voice my ED rationalizations, and counters them with his rational arguments, and occasionally stumps me, which I do think about later. It helps. I want to be normal because I want to have this not be part of our relationship anymore. I want to start eating normally and just be a normal girlfriend and gain some weight and have this not control me anymore. He helps me to believe that i can do it.

So- that's my story. I hope things have worked out for you since your last posting. I am happy to answer any and all questions, if you or anybody should have them.

P.S. I guess I didn't specify, in case you wondered-- my diagnosis is Anorexia Nervosa- restricting type.

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