Half a relapse- is there such a thing? I don’t know. I coined it tonight so bear with me.
Relapse is relapse, right? No excuses, no bullshit.
But, like, is it really? Isn’t recovery grey and murky? When do we draw the line? I never know. I have 10-years of eating disorders and 2 years of recovery, so I’m not even going to pretend like I can talk definitively.
There are times however I know I push it in terms of relapsing; times I conveniently put myself in situations where I won’t have the chance to eat for several hours and “can’t” get to food (i.e. the airport- always a prime example. Boarding an 11:50am flight from Dallas back to New York and conveniently not getting in till 5pm eastern time.)
“Oh,” I think to myself. “WHOOPSIE, guess I just skipped lunch!”
In my recovery brain, yes I know I should’ve prepared ahead and bought lunch but it’s just sometimes so easy to find a reason not to. No one knows, it’s not *technically* a relapse, but it’s my eating disorder brain justifying and manipulating to fit itself into my daily life.
It goes a lil sumthin sumthin’ like this:
I mean CHRIST, I start to think. Gimme a break y’all- I’m not puking and running double digit miles anymore… I’ll eat dinner when I get home… It’s just ONE lunch… People do this all the time… Most people I know never even eat breakfast anyway so they’re like TECHNICALLY only eating two meals… I’m not USUALLY flying around the country so this won’t happen again… I’m not even underweight… I ate so much last night so it’s fine if I don’t even eat one meal…I ate a HUGE breakfast anyway… I’ll just be sitting on the plane not moving, hardly digesting calories…
Sigh- you get the gist. I mean hey, my ED misses me loads. I gave it constant attention and validation for 10 years so it loves to remind me that it’s always there in case I feel like giving it a little pat on the head.
I have to constantly call myself out and sometimes I just don’t because at the end of the day who the hell is gonna know whether or not I bought a lunch before boarding a plane? No one.
But here’s the truth about all of it:
While I’m not technically in full relapse mode when I do shiz like that, it 100% stirs the dormant volcano inside of me; allows the ripples to start waving through my body- churning the ED mind to start activating.
My eating disorder is a sickness. It will latch onto every healthy brain cell if I let it- it will eat away at the parts of me that beg for healthiness and peace. The only way to beat it is accountability- even when that shiz sucks and makes you look bad.
So, what happens when it’s not you and it’s your loved one? What happens when you know someone close to you is teetering this ambiguous line?
Today, I had to learn for myself- and my God it is emotionally exhausting.
Someone close to me is in recovery for drugs. They called me sick as hell this morning with fever and aches and ultimately, a wonderful case of Flu Type B.
I just went to the doctor, they croaked.
What’d they give you, I asked- my ears perking.
A bunch of shit, they mumbled. I’m sitting in my car at Walgreens; just got it filled.
Oh, I paused- because, like, what am I going to say?
HEY DRUG ADDICT- WHAT MEDS DID THEY GIVE YOU, YOU ADDICT P.O.S?!?! (obviously, no.) So, awkwardly, I just paused.
They gave me Phenergan and Tylenol with codeine, they said- reading off the pill bottles.
Codeine? I said.
Yeah, I didn’t tell the doctor I’m in sober living.
I’m SO sick Linds. I need whatever they give me, they reiterated. I just hope this shit doesn’t get me in trouble at I.O.P. I need it. It’s prescribed.
Dude, I said. I know, but you can’t have codeine right? Can you even bring that in your sober house?
I’m going to tell them when I get home, they said. Chill out- it’s prescribed.
But, I paused. I mean it’s codeine. It’s a narc. You can’t do that babe.
I already did, they said. I just took one as prescribed.
Wait, you already took it? But why didn’t you tell your house managers before you did that, I reiterated, my blood starting to boil. Why didn’t you tell the doctor you’re in recovery?
BECAUSE I’M SICK LINDSEY, they said- voice rising. I have the Flu. I don’t need this shit right now.
Okay, I said- my voice rising now. Look, I know. But I KNOW you could get something else other than codeine. I just don’t think you should be opening yourself up to a painkiller. I know you’re sick but you can’t tempt yourself. I’m just worried.
I’m not dealing with this, they said- full out anger. I’m SO sick I’m like dying here. My pain is awful. I feel horrible. Don’t need this, don’t need your shit.
And they hung up.
…So like, NOW WHAT? I thought. NOW WHAT DO YOU DO?
I called their house manager; my mother; their mother.
Maybe I’m dramatic? Maybe I’m freaking out too much? It’s so hard to know whether or not you’re doing the right thing with this stuff, but in my mind, I just know that when your sick brain finds a way to justify- it will.
Do I think my friend is relapsing completely? No. I don’t. This person has been working hard; going to AA every day- making the right choices in terms of who they surround themselves with; this person wants to be clean and sober…
But I do think this person walked the line today. I think my friend chose to sit in a doctor’s office and omit the truth about their situation with drugs. There was a sliver of opportunity to use drugs with justification and they took it- as many would. There was a way to explain away behavior- and they did.
Do I feel like a rat? Yeah- I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t. But recovery is often life and death.
I love this person. I am on their side. I hated calling the house manager and our mothers- but part of recovery is being accountable and putting yourself in situations to be able to have that support.
Nothing drastic happened ultimately. I spent about 2 hours of my afternoon talking amongst the three and telling them what I knew. The house manager and assistant house manager came back and woke this person up and asked for a piss test.
My friend said before taking it that they’d likely fail and had taken one tylenol with codeine as prescribed and handed over all the medicine willingly.
It was all relatively honest once the house managers woke my friend up, and my friend openly said he/she had the medicine and had planned on giving it to the house managers to keep once they came back to the house.
Right now my friend is back asleep, tucked in bed with a 102 degree fever and they are distributing the medicine as needed.
This person called a bit ago and apologized for snapping earlier today.
I admitted after then that I told their mother and called the house managers.
My friend got a little ruffled, I could tell, but ultimately, they understood. I think this person knows somewhere deep inside there was some of dat rigorous honesty that was evaded.
I guess the whole point of tonight’s message is just to advise that if you’re worried someone’s relapsing- VOICE it. Don’t hold it in. Don’t be afraid to bring in help. Us homies in recovery have the sick side of us that is a manipulative, omitting little sneak.
We DON’T want to be that person; but sometimes we need that tough love. We need a little help when we’re put in positions that can compromise it.
My friend was likely annoyed, but at the end of our conversation a minute ago they texted me “thanks for loving me enough to do all that.”
And that, to me, is a solid sign- and I won’t apologize for keeping this person accountable.