And then the unthinkable became thinkable

There’s no easy way to write this, no way to make it less awkward and embarrassing (and yes, even shameful) for me, so I’m going to plunge on ahead and get it over with.

I’ve relapsed.
Big time.

My parents are coming on Friday to move me back to that mitten state in the Midwest, though I probably won’t leave DC until Monday.

This relapse struck hard and fast and caught me completely off guard. Things really just started deteriorating in the past 6 weeks–just when I got the boot off and didn’t have my handy (or footy) excuse for eating properly and staying off my feet–and by the time I realized the waters of anorexia were reaching up to grab me, it was too late. I was already soaked.

Events would have eventually come to light. The weight loss is blatantly obvious- to others, of course, not to me. I see the same scrubby redhead that I usually see. But during my therapy session last night, I got overwhelmed with guilt and grief and confusing and ‘fessed up. I am profoundly grateful I have the best therapist in the world (no exaggeration), that my parents are willing to feed me again, after I ruined things, again. I am grateful I have so many people cheering for me, like Laura and others who read my blog.

But right now, I’m only feeling this gratitude in my head. My heart is full of shame and anger and resentment at Life, The Universe, and Everything and also, you know, me. I do understand that my eating disorder isn’t my fault, but I also feel I should have known better. I was not so arrogant as to think that I could never relapse, that this couldn’t happen to me. I knew. I knew, perhaps, too well. In the end, though, that’s neither here nor there. I can’t go back in time. I can’t wave a magic wand and make this relapse go away as if it had never happened. Nor should I. I’m pretty much the opposite of a fatalist- I don’t usually believe that “things happen for a reason.” But I am an advocate of learning as much as you can from your life experiences.

I’m not going to waste energy that I don’t have right now trying to understand what went wrong. I get the basics for now, and that’s enough. I got really depressed and I let my defenses down. I became too depressed and too defeated-feeling to push myself to eat what I needed to, and so the passive restricting started. I wasn’t seeking to lose weight. I wasn’t trying to fuck myself and my life over one more time for old times’ sake. Something threw my brain into anorexic mode, full steam ahead, and that was the end of that.

So I’m going home, back to the magic plate and refeeding and all of the crap I thought I had washed my hands of. I will wash my hands of them again. It will take time, lots of time, and patience and food and love. I have to believe that, however improbable it may seem to my malnourished brain at the moment.

But my blog isn’t going anywhere. It’s been my sanity lifeline.

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46 Responses to “And then the unthinkable became thinkable”

  1. dear carrie, get well soon!

  2. So sorry for this huge disappointment, but I’m so glad you have people that care and are willing/able to support you. Try to be gentle with yourself and not beat yourself up!

  3. of course this is NOT your fault, it is all part and parcel of this horrible illness.

    Take gentle care carrie x

  4. I relate to that feeling of falling fast, hardly even realizing it until it is too late. Time and time again it has happened to me, but from each one I’ve learned more. You will too as you have before.

    I know ‘fessing up must have been really difficult, but I’m glad you were honest with yourself and your support team.

    Sometimes, going home is the best thing. I’m glad you have such supportive parents.

    Gentle hugs. You’ll get through this.

  5. Hey, my name is Mollie, I’ve been reading your blog for about a month now and I just wanted to offer insane amounts of love and support. I’m 24 and I’m 2 years and 3 months in recovery from some ass-kicking bulimia from which I relapsed many, many times prior to getting these past two years under my belt. You are not a disappointment, you are not a failure, this disease is cunning, baffling and powerful and this may feel like you’re back at square one, I subscribe to the idea that from the moment we first get into recovery from our ED’s, every bump and trigger and even relapse along the way is still in the direction of our eventual peace and recovery. If you were making a road trip cross country from LA to NY, and somehow got desperately lost in Oklahoma, you wouldn’t turn around and go back to LA to figure it out and start your road trip again; you’d find a gas station in Oklahoma and get some directions and stay a night in a motel and head out the next morning, NY-bound once again. You haven’t screwed anything up, you don’t need to give voice to the shame in your head,you just made a wrong turn. Doesn’t mean you’re back where you started. You’ve got tools, you’ve got a therapist, you’ve got more support than you’re even aware of. Stick with it, please don’t give up. I swear you’re not alone in this.

  6. *bigbighugs* I am so, so sorry. Such royal suck. If there is anything at all I can do for you, friend, just say the word.

  7. think of you xxxx

  8. Dear Carrie

    I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while, and much like many others, have been cheering you on from the sidelines, even if you weren’t aware of our support. I can see that this is disappointing, and having been in a similar situation, can only empathise. It’s yet another nasty manifestation of this horrible illness, but it’s NOT you. If you had diabetes, or the flu and you had relapse, you wouldn’t blame yourself for it, and this is no different.

    My thoughts are with you, and I look forward to hearing how you’re doing through your blog. There are so many of us out here who think you’re amazing, and we know that you will come out stronger. Many hugs and best wishes, Bronwyn

  9. You haven’t ruined anything. This is a relapse, which sucks, but it happens. You’ll get through this. I have faith in you.

    I ran across your blog by accident, but I’ve been reading every day since. Your writing speaks to me. I don’t have an ED, but the way you write and talk about yourself has really helped me to … begin, at least, to come to grips with the disappointments and challenges I am facing in my struggle against depression.

    It’s a weird way to come at things, maybe, but …

    Anyway I want to thank you for your help. And let you know that I — a bunch of us, I think — will be reading and thinking of you and pulling for you.

  10. Oh, Carrie. Gentle hugs to you. I completely agree with Mollie’s road trip analogy; think of how awesome it is that you can admit this, go home, and get help so “soon” into your relapse. If anything, you’re a role model, sweetie, from learning from your past experiences and actually applying the therapeutic tools and personal skills you have learned to your continuing experience with this stupid disease. You are using the lifelines that you have been taught to use in such circumstances. I’m sad for you because I know AN is no fun and this situation blows, but I’m also impressed.

    When I was kicked out of college for my AN and sent home to treatment, my best friend gave me this card that said “my favorite old car had no reverse gear. It taught me that I could only go forward.” I have always liked that idea in relation to EDs. If your concept of recovery is very black and white “I am recovered/I am not” then you leave no room for grace for yourself or the fact that you’ll make mistakes when battling something this big (and in your case, the additional battle of depression.) If your concept of recovery is perfection, it really means you haven’t learned ANYTHING from your entire struggle. However, when you let go of the the black/white concept of recovery and learn to accept your whole self, mistakes and all, and see them all as part of your journey, then you are making real progress into a recovery that you can use as the real imperfect person you really are.

    I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I’m sorry ED takes the best and brightest people and makes them suffer. It really makes me mad sometimes. You, however, don’t disappoint. You are special.

  11. ED Bites Big time……. Carrie Rocks!

  12. I have been reading your blog for a long time and I just wanted to offer love and support. I am cheering for you….

  13. [hugs] You’re amazing for reaching out and getting help. That’s no small feat. We’re out here listening, pulling for you to get better.

  14. You are stronger than you think! We’ll get through this one meal at a time. And, you didn’t ruin anything.
    Sending love…

  15. You are an amazing person. You will beat the bugger again. There is no shame. It just is. You’ve reached for the life ring before your head went under again and that’s the important part. That’s a Victory for you. You have our support along with your family’s and therapist’s. You can do this.

  16. You are amazing and the process you’re starting now will help you to see and feel it and live it.

  17. all the very best from here carrie. One day i will share with you my theories on hairline fractures as a cause of depression!

  18. I’ll be thinking of you, Carrie.

  19. So sorry for your relapse. You sound like you’ve got the right mental disposition to beat the eating disorder again.

    Keep us posted. Your blog and Twitter updates are fantastic!

  20. Oh Carrie. I don’t know where to start, how I could ever tell you how much respect I have for you. I’ve known you for years now, and although I know the nature of the ED is to have ups and downs, I have always looked up to you for the maturity and grace with which you handle yourself, even when you’re struggling. I know that nothing about relapse feels graceful or mature, but the fact that you’re committed to staying on top of this and regaining the upper hand really speaks volumes.

    Please keep us updated, and remember that you are worth this.

  21. Adrianna Joanna June 4, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    The moment I read the title I knew exactly what had happened. I’m so sorry. My aunt has anorexia and we think she is also going into relapse. She had been in recovery for many years, although she wasn’t very successful at it, and now she is slipping back. We know what’s going on, though, and we are there for her.

    You did it once before and you can do it again. You caught it early, and you’re committed to recovery and that’s what makes the difference.

    *Raises glass* Here’s to life after ED.

  22. We’re all right behind you. I’ll keep you in my thoughts. Keep your chin up.

  23. Relapse happens. The important thing is that you were able to mobilize and confess that you needed help. I have faith in you that you can come out of this.

  24. I think you’re really strong for recognizing what’s going on and reaching out for help. Good luck!

  25. It must be very difficult for you to show us the truth about youself . . . but that is where the greatest connection with other people occurs — we all have warts — and when someone stands up and shows her warts, it creates a space where the rest of us can be honest and real — and the healing enery grows. It started with you this time.

    Thank you!
    – Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

  26. My admiration for you being YOU, whereever you are, is immense. You are not defined by the potholes and Jersey walls and detours this f*&^%%$@ illness puts in your way. Being you, wherever you are, is the bravest stuff going. And worthy and lovable and admirable.

    ED hates real, I think. Make him mad.

  27. Carrie, you should not feel ashamed AT ALL. We all know how that innocent restricting becomes very not-innocent. Even though we know and understand so much about anorexia, it still has power. It gets in during the slightest lapses in vigilance. It would be ridiculous to judge or criticize you. This is an illness. You are brave enough to admit the slip and to reach out to people (who love you) and climb back up again. I’ve kind of given up on the idea of recovery being this endpoint. Life, and recovery, are a process, with ebbing and flowing. This isn’t your fault. It’s nothing to do with your character. It says nothing about who you are as a person. You have an illness. I have an illness. There are times in life when it overtakes. I don’t think the key is to raise our fists and stubbornly refuse to admit defeat; the key is to say, “I need help.” You’re doing that. I’ll be thinking of you a lot. I’m so glad your parents are so loving. Parents are amazing, as I’ve discovered recently myself. You’re taking care of yourself, whether you see it that way or not. Again, I’ll be thinking of you…

  28. Dude,

    We got your back baby.

  29. Thinking of you, Carrie.

  30. Carrie,
    Thinking of you. My d is home with a relapse right now. Must be in the air.

    Steph is right. You rock. And you’re going to keep on rocking. You’re my hero.

  31. I’m sending love and support to you, Carrie. This disease is so insidious. “Cunning, baffling and powerful.” Keep your head up darlin, you are taking care of yourself now and letting yourself be cared for.


  32. you’re going to be fine sweetheart. you have all the support in the world. i am so proud of you for reaching out. you are stronger and braver than you know. i’m thinking of you!


  33. I am glad you have such a great support team. It’s so brave of you to “fess up” and admit that you have fallen a bit. It’s okay, though I know you feel shame because of it. Focus on getting better and don’t dwell on the past. You can get through this and there are people there to help you. Good luck!!

  34. Thinking of you Carrie. I sent you a facebook message 🙂



  35. “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

    Christopher Robin to Pooh

    … and know that it is OK … that it’s OK to not be OK … and that you will feel OK again.

    Eating disorders can feel humbling, even humiliating, but shame only persists when we hide from our own truth; authenticity; vulnerability; humility; action; embrace; and love.

    All the best … Anon Mom

  36. I just came back here after not visiting for a while and saw this. I am sorry you relapsed and sorry you feel shame at it. Think of it like this: cancer survivors don’t feel shame if their disease comes back. And of course you parents will be there for you again, that’s their job and you are part of their herats. As a mom I understand completely.

  37. Nothing is ever your fault.
    I recently relapsed and take strength from the fact that you are courageous enough to fight back.
    Peace and Love from a struggling friend.

  38. Carrie,

    Your ability to acknowledge this disappointment so publicly speaks volumes about who you are as a person. While I’ve never met you, I feel like I know a good part of you. You are bright, caring, dedicated and have your heart in a very right place. You will move forward again. You have done exactly the right thing by getting help now.



  39. You know I’m with you and your family in spirit. If there was a way I could be there in person I would. I know you’ll be in good hands.
    You can beat this. Let’s go for fully this time. F&^$#% the ED. Trust mom and dad and S. I’d like to talk to you again in person as this feels so inadequate. Sending out my very best energy to help you fight this. Knock it’s socks off then evaporate it. Starve the ED of attention. Enjoy that shake with Jane. Love ya Carrie!

  40. Mary,

    I will try to call in the next few days- things are going to be hectic trying to throw stuff and kitty into boxes (stuff will go in easier than kitty!) but I have your number and would love to catch up.

  41. You are inspiring. I am going through a relapse of my own, which feels practically worse than the 5-6 years I suffered through the disorder itself, but everyone else is right: you are special. I am special too and am applying everyone’s advice: it’s not your fault and this, too, shall pass.

  42. Carrie,
    I am sending good thoughts your way. You are a brave and great person. This is just another speed bump and then you will be back on your pathway of life. Bes to you!

  43. <3 thank you for being you...thank you for your honesty. Thank you for letting us walk with you.

  44. I’m so sorry you’re going through this but I’m so glad that you’ve reached out and have such great resources of love and support to see you through. Keeping you close in thought, Carrie.

  45. Carrie, your writing has inspired me and so many other people. You’re so right that relapse is part of this disease and you’re courage in writing about it is also an inspiration.

    Best wishes and take care,


  46. Sorry you’ve relapsed. It takes a smart and courageous person to admit that they need help.