6 {Real} Signs Of An Eating Disorder Relapse

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Haven’t written in awhile.

Mostly because —  I’ve lost weight — And I don’t know how (nor want) to talk about that.

How do you talk about the reality that’s occurring – and less about the past you can reflect on? (Writing about the past is so much simpler.)

What does it mean when you’re generally “okay” and yet — not being okay?

How do you write for the people you know that read this — put yourself out on the gurney —  and still make it human?

It’s hard to maintain a sense of transparency about your life – while also worrying about what other people will think.

So, I write in this way. In numerical values like this headline — because it seems easier to own.

6 “real” signs of a relapse.

I’m in one – but I’ll dig out of it.

And, I think, while I’m in it — it’s worth shedding light on the little manipulations we use in order to get away with it.

1.) Stress

Ah – yes. The stress bug.

Is there even an appropriate emoji to fit there?

I work a 9-5 at a PR firm in downtown Denver. I have 7-8 clients at any given time.

There is always a crisis. Always a reason to panic.

When I’m actively living recovery, I can balance these initiatives. I eat anyway.

“You gotta eat cause you gotta’ deal. You don’t have time to be sick and you need to be alert.”

However, when I’m not, it’s easy to say otherwise.

“Screw it. You have too much to do. People are relying on you. Skip a meal.”

Skip a meal and you’ll be focused. Skip a meal and work through lunch.

Skip a meal to feel control.

It’s easy, isn’t it?

We will aways find reasons.

We always find a way to write it into our story.

Be better than that. I laugh at myself – I’m right there with you though so who am I to talk?

Let’s be better.

2.) Scales

^^^ no there’s purposely no weight showing on that – for all of you trying to compare.

So easy with the scale.

We’ve all owned one. We’ve all stepped on – off.

All of us hiding a scale in the pile of things we keep meaning “to get rid of.”

But, yet, when we want it – we find it. And we use it.

I find myself lately – using that scale.

I’ve lost weight recently. And so the cycle goes –

“Is the battery dead?” I keep asking myself.

“There’s no way I weigh that little.”

I’m an anorexic first and foremost – a binger second.

An exercise bulimic … Third? I don’t know. I’m everything.

Losing weight is easy for me. And I probably wear that around like a prize to be had.

I’m petite by nature – losing weight is a choice – not something I work for.

And I always have an excuse for why.

I think it’s worth mentioning that we all like to pretend that, in recovery, we are good at “getting rid of the triggers”

  • And scales are triggers

But, they still resurface when we let them.

Be cognizant.

3.) Bring out the Crop Top

^^^ Couldn’t even find a remotely justifiable pic of a woman in a crop top – ugh internet – you misogynistic ass. But, this will do.

“I’m just feeling good,” I say when I throw on a crop top. “I’m feeling hot.”

If you are, cool.

There’s no problem wearing that crop top. My GOD rock it. Rock your body.

But, be aware of why.

Are you doing it because you’re content with your body?

Or happy with it because you didn’t eat enough all day and feel thinner?

Shocker, eh? I got your number.

I know what it’s like.

I wake up on a Saturday afternoon. It’s 7:30am. I work a 9-5pm so my biological clock has transitioned.

I wake up early.

But, somedays, I wake up – and I lay in bed. I watch Netflix. I watch Seth Meyers – or Sam Bee.

I don’t eat.

All of the sudden – it’s noon – and I’m getting a coffee from the local Denver coffee shop.

“I have this to drink, so it’s okay.”

Walk with my partner (ex partner now, but that’s for a different post) – to the grocery store – stock up on food – take our time.

Next thing you know it’s 2pm and you’re going on a hike and you haven’t eaten a solid thing.

You throw on a crop top – you feel good in it.

Of course you do.

You always feel good when it’s 2pm and you haven’t eaten.

There’s nothing wrong with wearing a crop top whenever you want.

Just think it’s worth pointing out. If you’re changing your fashion norm – if you’re a parent of a teenager – take heed.

Yeah, take heed if they’re eating vegetarian.

But, take notice if they’ve suddenly come out of their “body image” shell in recovery.

There might be an underlying motive.

4.) Stomach Pains

Isn’t it funny how convenient our sicknesses arise when we relapse?

Just me? Maybe.

But, I find that I have more stomach issues – more headaches – “I’m tired.”

Sure, you’re tired, you’re restricting. Or you’re bingeing and either way – your body is trying to keep up.

Think about what you’re doing. Are you attributing to it?

Are you ill rested? Are you setting up the landscape for it? Are you proposing the topic?

I can’t answer that for you — but I know what it’s like to live it.

Got up the other morning – fell down in the kitchen.

I’m in the middle of a relapse – I don’t have a problem owning it.

But, my natural low blood pressure takes a toll. I function a bit carelessly.

Take heed. We’re people.

We want to live.

5.) Heartbreak

Nearly every time I touch upon a relapse it seems to come at the heels of heartbreak.

Not even necessarily inflicted on me – but by me. It can be both.

Whatever situation arises – I can make it a reason.


I hurt them? “I DESTROYED another person. I destroyed them.”

You find a way to turn it into you.

If only I was thin –

If I lose weight – they’ll see how sorry I am. I’m sorry I hurt them.

Be sorry you hurt someone.

You hurt a person. You might’ve, anyway. Sometimes, humans surprise you with their inability to bounce back.

Both are heartbreaking.

But, you feel like you inflicted pain on another human being.

You hurt yourself in return.




You can’t prove pain through food.

You can’t prove that you feel because you show a bone.

If only we all remembered that?

If only we remembered that so much of our life is fleeting – and pretty.

If only we lived for the pretty.

6.) Beverages

THIS IS A HUGE ONE. The second we relapse – we’re the connoisseurs of coffee. A sudden fascination with wine – and it’s “aroma.”

I find myself strolling into the local Starbucks. I know the barista. I talk to her about her Dad in Austin.

We smile – a knowing nod.

I’ll have the usual, I say.

Coming right up, she summons. And I pay. Look down at the granola bars – the muffins I won’t eat.

Ah – what a hero I am, I think. A hero of the unconsumed artificial sugar.

I assure myself I just “love coffee.”

You gotta be aware of that. It sneaks up –

You get a mimosa at brunch – surrounded by friends doing the same.

You get a beer at 3pm on a Sunday because “it’s play offs.”

What are you doing it for? Ask yourself that.

I jump at the happy hours when I relapse – the excuse to have a drink and pass it off as “social.”

I do it especially – when I’ve eaten what I’ve deemed is “too much.”

We have eating disorders for Christ Sake.

Don’t kid yourself. A lot of what you do can have ulterior motive.

Make yourself aware of that – cause no one else will.

And once you make yourself aware of it – own it. So you can figure out what not do with it.

Figure out what it means to be alive – and hell, I’m still there with you doing it now.

Sending all of you love – because I know what it is – we all know what it is – to live this tiny, little pretty life with an eating disorder.

Let’s be better. Let’s relate – and find each other.

Let’s live a big ole – scary life. <3

21 thoughts on “6 {Real} Signs Of An Eating Disorder Relapse

  1. Thank you sharing this part of yourself.
    I’m 47. I thought I’d knocked my bike Mia out of the park heck, prob 20 years ago.
    I started loosing weight in 2016, cause I was borderline obese, and, it’s just jumped up and hit me in the ass. Again. Hard. I’d binge here and there when I began my diet but, thought, nah, I got this.
    Well, I don’t “got this.”
    I’m going to get help. I’m going to read this over and over to remind myself that I’m not alone and it’s ok. It’s ok that I fucked up and I can start over and I might have to do that a few times. And it’s ok. I wanna live a big fat ugly life.

  2. I’m not sure I ever had an eating disorder but I find myself at 1 am on a Monday night reading about relapses because I was typing and my thumbs are skinnier than ever and all I’ve ate today was a quesadilla at 7am and a cup of coffee and then I read where it says you wear a crop and feel good but because you haven’t aten all day and that makes you feel good I realized it does it makes me feel confident wearing a crop top on an empty stomach after 2 pm idk what it is I’m guessing I’m having a relapse I wear things I’m confident in now but I’m also starving myself because I do get hungry but ignore it to the point it gets late and then I sleep but I never got help in the first place I just kind of did it on my own and now I guess I’m back to my old habits it’s jsut hard to realize your sick and have to try so hard not to find refuge in thinking about being skinnier When I just idk I say I don’t want to be scary skinny but what even is that? I’m skinny now but idk I just want to be skinnier and I know this isn’t the healthy way to do it it’s disappointing to myself to have to deal with this and be ashamed of it

  3. All but the coffee..the caffeine makes me feel even worse. But this time I’m scared. I now I need treatment again. I punish myself this way for the abuse I endured and for losing my children to the abusive father. I’m scared but I know it’s coming to the point I need to get help again. Please if you believe in anything keep me in your heart. All of you are in mine too. Sending love ❤

  4. Pingback: 6 {Real} Signs Of An Eating Disorder Relapse – My anorexia battle

  5. Feeling like I’m spiraling into a relapse, and it’s taking different forms than the first time. I’m glad I read this; I’m thankful you wrote it. Be well, and take care. Thank you for sharing this. <3

  6. Wow. This resonates with me so much right now. I’m totally off my meal plan right now. I’m losing weight. Still eating. But not nearly enough and I know it. And everytime I do it feels like too much and the next time I eat less. I know this is unsustainable, and how this will play out. I know you can on,y restrict and ride the hunger high for so long until your body eventually, inevitably rebels. I know what I’m doing. I know I shouldn’t be doing it. And yet there’s always an excuse or a reason to keep doing it. My heads above water right now, but I can see me getting pulled back under faster than I think might happen. It’s hard to recommit to recovery, to go back to the days of hating and shaming my body, when right now I’m totally in the crop top attitude, getting a little hit everytime I look down at my thighs or stomach and like what I see. But it’s not sustainable

  7. wow! this is me RIGHT NOW. lost a little weight -rigid w meal plan. got on the damn scale, first time in 2 years – happier w number than had been in a long while. hadnt been bingeing so used that as the excuse, reason. feeling more comfortable in clothes. got very consistent and amped up workouts – rigid again, even with walking the dogs. felt lightheaded. competitive with husband over his dieting/exercise. stress of mothers day tomorrow – emotions VERY high. my mom died many years ago. challenges with husband. STRESS STRESS STRESS! challenges with three kids. whamo – binge yesterday. feel chaotic. so appreciate the validation of what im going through! will claw my way back!!!!!!!

  8. I’ve been feeling heading towards a relapse lately. Glad this was the first thing I clicked on when I googled “eating disorder relapse”. I really, really needed to read this list. Thank you so much💕

    1. Lindsey Hall – Brooklyn, NY – Eating Disorder Recovery blogger at award-winning I Haven't Shaved in Six Weeks.com & Lindsey Hall Writes. IG: @lindseyhallwrites
      Lindsey Hall

      Thank you for taking time out of your life to write me that. I know how difficult it can be. Sending you peace, lovely human. Be easy on yourself <3

  9. I’m maybe kind of doing this now a little bit. In any case, I can definitely relate it to my life now. I’ll add one more:

    When you start romanticising your eating disorder. You focus on what is good about it and minimise/ignore the bad things. And there were soooooooooo many bad things, but it’s easy to forget them when you’re heading towards relapse.

    1. Lindsey Hall – Brooklyn, NY – Eating Disorder Recovery blogger at award-winning I Haven't Shaved in Six Weeks.com & Lindsey Hall Writes. IG: @lindseyhallwrites
      Lindsey Hall

      God, I know. Romanticising is basically what I JUST published today about. I totally relate.

  10. Just thankyou. I can’t describe to anyone how it feels to be stuck in this twilight zone of having *nearly* recovered but not quite yet. I feel like you’ve understood me better than my closest friends, even more than my husband…and on a day like today that has made all the difference.

    1. Lindsey Hall – Brooklyn, NY – Eating Disorder Recovery blogger at award-winning I Haven't Shaved in Six Weeks.com & Lindsey Hall Writes. IG: @lindseyhallwrites
      Lindsey Hall

      So appreciate your words. I think we all can understand one another when it gets to this point. Thankful to be surrounded by a community that relates. Hope you’re well. Sending you peace. <3

    1. Lindsey Hall – Brooklyn, NY – Eating Disorder Recovery blogger at award-winning I Haven't Shaved in Six Weeks.com & Lindsey Hall Writes. IG: @lindseyhallwrites
      Lindsey Hall

      Don’t be. It’s easy to manipulate. And as I age, I don’t think it’s always that easy. But… who knows. Could just be ED brain.

      Sending you peace. <3

  11. Pingback: “But, The Scale Says I’m Fine”: Gaining Weight With Anorexia – I Haven't Shaved In 6 Weeks

  12. I’ve followed your writing since you posted an article on the now defunct xojane. I’ve lived in almost complete isolation with my ED for the past 15 years, only in the past two years have I tried to participate more fully in my recovery with the support from friends and access to therapy I have so often pushed away. I’ve never commented on any of your posts, but everything you have ever written about your own journey with an ED resonates so completely with me. I’m not sure what else to say but to keep fighting. Like many other commentors have already said, you are an inspiration. You acknowledge the struggle just as much as the triumphs which is the reality of living with an ED. We don’t get the advantage of going through treatment (whatever that looks like – rehab, hospitalization, out-patient, etc) and being “cured” at the end. I admire your presence with this blog and your ability to speak out about the truth of having an ED. Connecting with you, even if it is not in a direct way, has definitely supported me as I continue down this super bumpy road towards recovery. Thank you.

  13. I have been there and it sucks…but as you say, you WILL get through this. You can conquer this! Unfortunately most people don’t see it as the battle that it is. They just think that all you need to do is eat when it’s so much more than that. I too have moments when I become slave to the scale. I know I have a problem when I weigh 5+ time a day. I have a 3 year old little boy and I admire so much about him…but the biggest thing I admire is his self-control with food. He eats when he’s hungry and stops when he’s full. He makes better food choices than I do and I have to admit…I’m jealous! Why can’t I be more like that? How do I change? I have battled this disease for 15+ years. My challenge was binge/purge cycles to the point of throwing up blood. To be honest, God is the only reason I’m still alive!!! But every day I wake up determine to kill this monster. When I fail, I remind myself that I can make a better/different decision at the next meal or the next day. Unlike any other addiction, we have to face ours 3 times/day because you have to eat to live. Alcoholics can live without alcohol. Drug addicts can live w/o drugs…but we HAVE to eat. I will tell you…it gets easier in time, but you got this! Strength comes in surrounding yourself with others who can help share and walk with you through this journey. Thank you for your honesty and openness. You inspire me and encourage me.

  14. Wow, so right on. Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability. Trying to convince myself I’m not in a relapse but reading what you share helps keep me in the reality that I am, no matter how much I deny the ulterior motives of my behavior. I too will get myself out of it because I want to be strong and enjoy triathlon more than just suffer through my races. First race of my season is at Boulder reservoir next weekend so sometimes that is all that keeps me eating. Sending you love from where I live an hour south of Denver. Be brave. ❤️

  15. Just… yes. Every single word. Thank you for sending this out! I knew/know I’m deep in the throes of relapse, know it! And yet; I’ve allowed it to continue. Bought a scale, kept myself entirely too “busy” to eat, stomach pains (duh.. of course-eat something!), avoided business lunches (I even faked a cavity-seriously) to avoid food. And I know it… relapse. Your words hit home and it’s nice to know I’m not the only one. I too shall pull myself out.. and carry on.

    Cheers- Melanie

    Sent from my iPhone


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