Eating Disorder and a Relationship

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22. August 2013 by swissfitchick

Yup. That’s a tricky one. I get asked a lot, how my Eating Disorder is/was approached in my and Sandro’s relationship, how we handle it, if it has an influence etc. I talked to Sandro if he is okay with me writing about it, because it is very personal. We both thought that telling this story maybe helps someone out there – so I wrote it all down.

When we started dating, I told Sandro the whole story. At that time, I wasn’t relapsing so often, my ED wasn’t going strong and actually I felt pretty good, but I just knew it wasn’t over yet. I wanted him to know everything so he knew what might expect him🙂 I made the mistake in my previous relationship that I did not talk about it enough and it was one of the main reasons why it ended. I never wanted to put my relationship in danger anymore because of a stupid Eating Disorder.

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Sandro had no clue about Eating Disorders, so he wasn’t prepared. Amazingly enough he reacted most of the time very sensitive, understanding and patient. I was pretty stable in the first year of our relationship, but when things started to change (my move to Zurich, new job etc.) the bulimia came back in full force. At that point, both of us had no idea how to handle these rough moments when I was in a relapse and in my dark thoughts, fears and despair. In the beginning, all was wrong. He tried to help me, I didn’t let him. He wanted to hug me, I pushed him away. He wanted to talk, I got mad and walked away. Nothing worked. I had to recover from the relapse and then managed to talk to him in a normal way.

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We talked a lot. SO MUCH. Hours and hours – what is going on in my head when it happens? What do I need? How is it affecting Sandro? What can he do? How does he feel? How can we get through this together without hurting each other? So many questions. We failed, over and over, had disagreements, fought, hurt each other, didn’t talk. But we never dout about that we belong together and that we can do this. In the moments out of my vicious cycles we swore, that we are stronger than this disease. We swore, that the bulimia won’t separate us. There was just no way that stupid bingeing, food, negative thoughts and weight would destroy our love.

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We worked really hard and everytime we failed we talked it over. I wrote a lot – writing is my tool to express myself. We started to develop strategies, how we can cope with delicate days, and how we can hold up respect and a relationship – I never wanted him to turn into some kind of therapist for me or a supporter – I wanted him to be my boyfriend and me his girlfriend. Yes, it’s wonderful and a blessing that he supports me, but there is a danger of becoming dependent on your partner and I never wanted that. Thankfully, I always went to my psychologist who took over the therapeutical part.

BUT, we found a good way and great strategies how I can support him by telling him how HE can support me. Believe me, it took me SO LONG to find out how to seek, ask for and accept help. And to appreciate it. After years and years of battling with all the issues by myself, I just had no idea how to do this nor did I feel comfortable with it at all. I felt constricted, embarrassed, angry, helpless and pressured. My Trainer ones said to me when I was complaining about Sandro’s attempts to help me:’ Imagine how that feels. You want to help. And you get pushed away. Wouldn’t that hurt YOU?’ – That woke me up.

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Fortunately, Sandro is a very down to earth kind of person. He hardly ever gets irritated and he can look at my struggles in a very rational way – which makes it easier for me to stay grounded. Also, he is hardly ever in a bad mood – yeah, that sounds heavenly, but sometimes, ya know…..sorry Babe, but you know it. Too much good mood can be….well….a little disturbing sometimes :-)

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Hm, well maybe not that easy….wahaha. so cheesy.

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After all these months of being in recovery now and getting to learn my tools how to handle my struggles, relapes and downs, things got a lot better. I am not crazy overwhelmed anymore when binges happen, nor do they happen that often anymore. This makes our relationship a lot more relaxed and easy. Of course, we discuss, fight or have disagreements here and there, but I guess that’s just the flow of a relationship. Sometimes our strategies don’t work and I’d scream in disappointment, but heck, we are human and we are no professional psychologists. But still – not only did I become kind of a little expert in dealing with my ED, so is Sandro. He exactly knows the triggers, for me or for both of us. He knows my fears and he knows what to do (most of the time) in these situations. Let’s say, living together with an Eating Disorder as the ‘third wheel’ in a relationship is not easy – but it’s possible. The goal is to eliminate that third wheel – soon and forever.

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xxx

Lucie

29 thoughts on “Eating Disorder and a Relationship

  1. This was such a touching story to read, Lucie…and Sandro sounds like such a great support system. Whether it’s in the form of an ED or not, we all have our setbacks and the more we try to hide the issue, the worse the outcomes will be in the long-run! I’ve never been in this situation so am curious to know whether being a relationship helped in the sense that it made you re-prioritise to some extent i.e. focus on all the good things in your life rather than succumb to ED tendencies?

    • Great question, Kushboo. I must say, that I was always a person who loved life and all what it offers, despite suffering from an ED. But of course, it was easier to stay in my cycle of food and exercise and focus on my disordered habits when I was single. Being in a relationship and being so close with a ‘normal’ person made me realize even more how disordered I was. On one hand, it was scary cause I felt like someone would ‘get in my way’ of habits, on the other hand, as you said, it made me re-prioritise things that have nothing to do with my ED or food or exercise and also being able to let certain thoughts and behaviors go.

  2. Esthi says:

    Here’s to Sandro! A big thank you to you for being there for our Lucie! She’s lucky to have to you! (And of course you’re lucky to have her as well, but you knew that right😉) big kisses to you both!

  3. ko0ty says:

    It’s awesome that you and Sandro are able to go through this together. I would imagine having someone there to support you and talk to you would definitely speed up your recovery. Gooduck!!

  4. Courtney @ Star Systemz says:

    Having a relationship and an eating disorder is hard I am so happy you have such an understanding partner, this truly Makes the world of difference throughout the rest of your life and I know sometimes those thoughts cone back they always haunt me but because of my supported its so much easier to be stronger! I am so proud of you and love you!!! Lots of love c

    • Thank you so much Courtney!
      It is truly a wonderful thing to have support from loved ones. We can always think that we are better off alone, but at the end of the day we all need love and support. It does make a huge difference!

  5. Greta says:

    You are AMAZING!!! So is Sandro.🙂
    And I’m jealous😉
    Oh, and “hi” beautiful!!!!

  6. Sportfreak ;) says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing your story – that is amazing and really helpful!!!

  7. Amanda says:

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time! I suffered from an ED last year and am currently going through the long and tiresome steps of recovery. I am back to a healthy weight now and from the outside it looks like I am perfectly healthy. However, i still do suffer from some ED thoughts and occasional binge sessions etc. I have recently entered a new relationship and he has know idea…. I am struggling with whether or not to tell him. On one hand, i want to leave it in the past, start fresh you know? but then again, it is clearly still apart of me and it is unfair for me not to give him all the facts. Any advice?

    • It’s hard to give an advice from here, as I don’t know you Amanda nor your partner – all I can say is, that in my previous relationship I did not talk about it either because I thought like you, I wanted it to be over. This wasn’t a good idea and eventually the relationship broke because of that. We can not lie about our past, because it is a part of us and I personally think that honesty always wins. As you say, it is a part of you and I think it is very important for the long term that your partner knows your story. You never know what is going to happen and being open and honest about EVERYTHING helped me and Sandro a LOT to understand what’s going on. Besides that, it made me feel so good that he knew about it so I did not feel so lonely and alone with my struggles. I truly think a partner is the person who is there for you to go through everything, but therefore he need to know about your past and background. But this is just my opinion, as said, I think this is a very personal thing and you have to figure out what feels good for you.
      If you have any more questions you can email me anytime!

  8. I can relate to this. My boyfriend didn’t understand why I did what I did, but he had insecurities himself. Then came the mood swings, the trying to get better but taking steps back, the crying because I wanted to eat but couldn’t. It was hard on him just as hard as it was on me. I’m so much better now and we worked together with our insecurities and did nothing but comfort each other and encourage each other with everything we did and wanted to do in life. We are in such a good place and I am really thankful for him.

    • I am so happy to hear this Ashley! I absolutely see those struggles and we had the same! It really is finding out how to deal with it and support each other. Talking about it and accepting the insecurities of BOTH is so important!

  9. It makes me happy to hear that Sandro has been such a good support system for you! I agree that an ED absolutely makes for a third wheel in a relationship. Fortunately by the time Eric and I got together I was in recovery and doing well (although he did witness me having a panic attack over some peanut butter cookies…) so he didn’t have to deal with it too much. My prior relationship, however? He got to watch me deteriorate, unable to do a damn thing about it. It definitely destroyed that.

    • Aww Sam! I am sad to hear about your previous relationship (I SO feel you on this) but also so happy that you recovered and are now enjoying all the wonderful sites of being with Eric!!
      And thank you for your kind words, means a lot!

  10. Oh lady, this was SUCH a pleasure to read❤ I'm so happy that you have someone like Sandro in your life, and I think it's wonderful that you shared your experience with us in such a real way, showing that it IS possible to maintain a relationship, but that it's not all sunshine and rainbows and takes some hard work. Maintaining a relationship while in the throes of an ED is a monumentally difficult task… I've had relationships fail because of my ED as well, which I think is part of the reason why I made the choice to stay single for so long – I wanted to heal before I risked anyone else getting hurt. Luckily I'm now with someone who knows my past and accepts me despite of it, so that first quote? I'm loving it🙂

    • And I couldn’t be happier for you!!!
      I totally get the wish to stay single until you’re better – I was scared to death to begin a new relationship during all this disaster. It is really hard to stay balanced with each other when this effing ED is around the corner everywhere.
      Enjoy every moment with your new love, SO worth it!!!

  11. makingthymeforhealth says:

    You two make such a beautiful couple! That’s so awesome that he supports you and understands you so well.
    I’ve never suffered from an ED but my brother’s girlfriend did and he eventually gave up on her. Yeah, not so proud of him for that! Anyway, it’s great to see that you two have such a great bond. I know what you mean about the good mood all of the time too. It’s great that they’re so happy but sometimes you need someone to wallow in things with you.

    • Thank you so much!
      It is sad when a relationship breaks because of an ED, but sometimes, the partner really is helpless and can not do anything for the one with the ED as this one wouldn’t let him. I am sure your brother tried very hard!
      Oh and yes, the good mood, haha🙂 You totally said it right, sometimes wallowing together is just better than someone who always want to brighten up your day🙂

  12. Lucie, thank you so much for this post. I loved hearing how Sandro handled your ED and how you both were able to work TOGETHER. I think a lot of times the significant other doesn’t understand EDs and don’t know how to help, and conversely, the person struggling doesn’t know how to share what they need or even think about how their behaviors effect the other person. Sadly, my ED was a huge reason why my marriage took a plummet. Yet, there was one huge difference between yours and Sandro’s approach and my approach with my husband. The communication portion. That severely lacked for the longest time. I think now that we are both actively working on communicating more and clearly with one another, that has significantly improved our relationship and our understanding of what the other needs from us. So happy to hear that you two were able to make it work regardless of the ups and downs. I’m happy to say that my husband and I are not giving up either. We will wrestle this demon together🙂

    • Girl, you an be so proud of the two of you!! I know how hard it is to communicate and ti find out how to deal with an Eating Disorder in a relationship. It is hard work and I am so happy for you that you two didn’t give up, that is huge!! Don’t let this demon disturb your love anymore!

  13. cottercrunch says:

    you have an amazing guy there. Truly helped you through this, but he knew you were strong in the beginning!

  14. […] Eating Disorder and a Relationship (swissfitchick.wordpress.com) […]

  15. […] out the way you plan it, right? Relationships with an Eating Disorder ain’t no fun. Read the post about how we handled the situations – which was pretty amazing if I may say so. But see – relationships are like a mirror. A […]

  16. […] boyfriend back then and I did a pretty good job of living a beautiful and more or less healthy relationship despite the fact that we were carrying the heavy load of an Eating Disorder. Looking back, I […]

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