Here's a strange fact for you: eating disorders numb you out. Totally. I mean, you begin to stop feeling emotions. All your time and focus and energy goes into the eating disorder, so that you no longer have ANY feelings except anxiety and fear around food and weight gain. Research has shown that anorexics lose most of their 'emotions' - love, happiness, anger, etc.
And then once you start eating, everything floods back into your life. I'm in my third week of treatment, and I'm experiencing MAJOR emotions that I have not felt in a long time. And it's scary - one minute you feel happy, and then you realize that you have not felt this emotion for a while.
It is so different from what I am used to. Deep into my starvation, I blocked out all feelings. I never felt happy; I simply put on a smiling face for the world to see. I never even felt angry; I always felt alone and sad. Now, I find myself getting angry about things and it is new to me. No one likes to be angry, but it is kind of interesting actually EXPERIENCING anger. My head gets hot, my heart beats faster, and my body responds accordingly. It's the typical fight or flight response that my starved body forgot.
Now, when I feel happy, I know that I'm happy. My cheeks start to hurt because I'm smiling so much. My thoughts are free from ED - and what a liberating feeling that is! I feel so free, so loved, and so....present. For once in a long time, I do not feel that I have to act happy. If I'm sad, I'll be sad. If I'm happy, I'll be happy. I do not have to pretend any longer. And I do not have to live my entire life emotionless.
When I feel like I love, I love. I can share this with my family and friends and tell them just how much I appreciate their kindness. I can give my sister and parents a big hug and feel their warmth; I can realize how beautiful it is to have that sense of touch with my family. When I'm thrilled to see guests visiting me, I can express my appreciation.
To be honest, all of this is great. But part of me is scared. I'm scared to show happiness all the time because what if that makes me look silly? I'm frightened to show anger because people are not used to seeing me be angry. I'm nervous to show love because it was something that I blocked out for a long time. And now, all of this is rushing back into my life. It feels so different, so liberating, so....normal. Who knew that being normal can feel so different?!
I guess, like everything else in my treatment, this too will take time. It will take a while for me to get used to feelings of happiness, sadness, anger, and love. It will most likely not be fun or comfortable - also like many things in recovery. But in a sense, I am thankful. I'm thankful that I can once again feel the emotions that we are meant to feel. I'm thankful that I can start living life normally, without pretending to have different emotions that I never actually had. It's hard to admit that I have these feelings, but in the long run, it sure is worth it.