Social Events in ED Recovery: Before and After
Having to attend social events while dealing with an eating disorder can bring about extreme anxiety. I have previously written a blog post about all the fears and hesitations that can accompany receiving a social invitation. I'll link it here:
However, there are some celebrations that we just HAVE to go to, no matter how we try and squeeze out of them. And then, there are the (rare) moments when we actually WANT to attend a social gathering. However, no matter the drive or desire, accepting invitations can bring on a whole slew of emotions.
This weekend, I attended my cousin's bridal shower. It was a "family and friends" celebration that I KNEW I had to be a part of. There are few moments more special than showering a bride with love, and it was my responsibility as a cousin to click that "yes" button the invitation.
Despite wanting to be there, I was hesitant as well. In eating disorder recovery, we generally don't do well with unknowns or unpredictability. I'll speak for myself, but leading up to the event, an overwhelming number of questions filled my mind. The nature of these questions bounced around from food worries, to outfit choices, to social concerns.
What kind of food will be served? Will there be something that I feel comfortable with?
What should I wear? Will people comment on my appearance? Have I gained weight? Have I lost weight?
Is there going to be alcohol? Because alcohol impacts my food choices, and alcohol is "extra" calories. But I do enjoy a good glass of wine...
What do I do with my food intake beforehand? Do I restrict to "save room" for the calories I will consume at the shower? Do I compensate for the food I eat by cutting down on my meals after the event?
What if I get anxious when I'm making small talk? Where or who will I turn to?
These are just SOME of the questions that can cross the mind of someone with an eating disorder in preparation for a social event. Now, keep in mind that my best interests were at heart - I did recognize that the event was about my cousin, and not about me. In fact, the event wasn't about me at all, which did make me feel a little guilty for dedicating so much of my time to worrying.
As it turns out, I had an INCREDIBLE time at the bridal shower. Although I didn't push myself as much as I would have liked in terms of food, being surrounded by my cousins was a great reminder of why I'm fighting. We talked about the highs and lows of our careers, the hassles that bug us on a daily basis, and the things we are most looking forward to this summer.
And that got me thinking - I'll actually be in town this summer! For those of you who don't know, I spent last summer in treatment in New York City - June to September - and missed out on all that Montreal has to offer during the warmer months. And I freaking love my city - so many amazing things to do, and so many beautiful places to explore!
I was nervous going into the event, because anorexia has literally conditioned me to expect the worst at any social gathering. It tells me time and time again that social situations, especially celebrations, will be too much to handle. Sometimes, I back out before accepting the invite, because I listen to that panicked voice. In those moments, I keep myself somewhere where I know I'll be safer. Please don't judge me for saying "no". But sometimes, I accept. And truth be told, I am ALWAYS happy after the event has taken place. Whatever happens with the food, I know I am surrounded by amazing people in my life who continue to lift me up and inspire me to keep fighting.
Ten years with this illness is a long time, and I've been down on myself a lot recently because of it. But after this weekend, I got the boost I needed to lift my chin a little higher this week.