Sudden anorexia recovery efforts can be as shocking to the body as well as the mind. Here is one woman’s recovery story presented via our correspondence. She gave me permission to post our dialogue on my blog in hopes that our exchange would help you. (Her name is changed and her city is omitted.)
Hello Joanna, I found your website online and was hoping that you could help me. I struggled in silence with anorexia for eight years.
This past year has been a huge year of recovery for me! I have finally found freedom from my disorder and have reached a normal BMI.
Unfortunately, I don't feel very healthy. This year, although I have made so much progress, I feel like I am in horrible physical and emotional health.
I experience chronic dizziness, rapid heart rate, heart palpitations, hot flashes, soft stools, migraines etc. I realize that much of this is from anxiety, which is normal after recovering from an eating disorder. However, I can't help but feel like I did permanent damage to my endocrine system/digestive system.
Do you know anything about the physical effects of recovery? Obviously, this weight gain is a shock to my system. I did test positive for hypoglycemia and believe that this may be from my disorder??
I have been to MANY doctors...but none seem to deeply understand Anorexia. So, I thought you might know more, having worked so many people in my situation. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for what you do! Wendeline
Dear Wendeline, Thank you for writing. I hope I can help.
Your post raises many questions for me. First, where are you geographically? If you are in the Los Angeles area, perhaps a face-to-face consultation would be best.
- Do you have a psychotherapist, and if so, are you working with her on a regular basis?
- Have you seen an endocrinologist?
What many people do not understand is that change, especially sudden change, takes a terrific toll on the body. You have been starving yourself for eight years. Suddenly, providing your body with the necessary nourishment is a shock.
Your body needs gentle, caring and patient kindness while you get used to genuine nourishment.
Your mind, heart and soul, your perspective on the world, your ability to respond to how people now perceive you are all powerfully affected by the steps you have made in recovery.
Please, don't for a moment think that recovery is only related to food and weight. Anorexia involves your whole being. Recovery work must involve your entire being as well. If you like, I am willing to hear more about your situation. Please feel free to write again.
Warm regards, Joanna
Dear Joanna, Thank you so much for your quick response! Unfortunately, I am located quite far from LA, in xxxxxxx, Florida.
To answer your other questions, I am finally working with a Psychotherapist (it took me a while to find someone I found helpful), and I have seen an Endocrinologist.
I have seen many doctors, as I have had this undying fear that I will never physically recover. It is hard for the doctors to provide reassurance because I feel that most of them do not deeply understand Anorexia and do not know exactly what physical effects should be expected from Anorexia/Recovery. I think there is a great need for research in this area.
I do appreciate your confirmation that what I am going through is a "shock" to the system and may be responsible for these physical changes I am experiencing. I will continue with my psychotherapy and continue to push my doctors to explore my symptoms.
I am also doing yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and ceramics. Still, with all this support, the road is hard and lonely. But, I have hope that I will find my way.
Dear Wendeline, It sounds like you are on the right track for deep recovery. Yes, I know the road can feel hard and lonely. You are moving toward a new life and are leaving more than you can appreciate now.
The good news is that you are moving toward a better life that is even better than you can imagine.
In anorexia, even your imagination becomes malnourished and deprived. In your moves toward healing, your imagination grows and heals, as well as your body. Life gets better.
Wendeline, may I ask a favor? Your post and response to mine, I believe would be helpful and inspiring to other women in your position. May I post our exchange on a blog post so others can learn of your concerns and your dedicated efforts to heal?
I would change your name and city if you wish. Please let me know. I think knowing about your journey would be a gift to others.
Warm regards, Joanna
Dear Joanna, Thanks again. Feel free to post our dialogue, although I would appreciate you changing the name and location. I hope that it can help/inspire others in my situation. Thanks again, Wendeline
Dear Wendeline, Your name is English. I'll use Wendeline, which is also an English name. I'll also say a city in Florida. That should help keep the tone of your post accurate. Please feel free to write again. I would like to keep up with your recovery, and I'm sure others will too. Again, thank you. And Merry Christmas!
Warm regards, Joanna
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Written by Joanna Poppink, MFT. Joanna is a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in eating disorder recovery, stress, PTSD, and adult development.
She is licensed in CA, AZ, OR, FL, and UT. Author of the Book: Healing Your Hungry Heart: Recovering from Your Eating Disorder
Appointments are virtual.
For a free telephone consultation, e-mail her at