A guest post from an appropriately angry patient
Was it 1 year or 2 years ago we last met? I really can't tell you. But I clearly remember how I felt seeing her. I wanted to feel her emotion, to hear her move from passivity and hopelessness. I believed in her ability to fight this thing--this bulimia turned anorexia-- to get out of her own way, but I'm not so sure she had the same belief then.
Now she's coming back, and in anticipation of our session, she's indulging me--and you-- with some passion. She's angry, appropriately so--and I'm thrilled. Yes, it's time to direct that anger toward recovery.
Shannon's Recovery Survival Kit
You don't want to recover for a very simple reason: you're scared. You're scared of life, growth, feelings, worries, people, rejection, change, and you're hiding away from it all. Your ED is driving you into a morgue and you're letting it, because you're too scared to fight back.
Recovery doesn't make people 'too fat'. Recovery makes people the way they were supposed to be, and much happier than they would have ever been with an eating disorder.
New perspective: you are not terrified of gaining weight. You wish more than anything to just get the weight gaining part over and done with and to forget this ever happened to you, to leave it all behind, to be 'normal'. You want your shape back, your health back, your life back.
What to do? Relax. Honestly. Take a massive deep breath and then use the worst swear word you can towards your eating disorder for making you this way. F*!@# it all. Really, really hate your disorder for a moment.
There'll always be a 'reason' to give up on recovery; don't fall for the trap.
I'm so, so sorry you had to suffer so badly. Remember, that those thoughts and impulses are false. False. You do not deserve a single second of that bullshit; those thoughts have grown in your scared mind at a time of vulnerability and you've come to accept them as truth; the thoughts of 'I'm fat, I'm a failure, I'm disgusting'. These thoughts were built on your deepest doubts - therefore, they are false as they have no actual basis.
Fall down seven times, stand up eight. You're a fighter. You're a winner. Be the winner in this battle. You deserve every last little bit of your life back, which your ED has stolen from you. Fight for it. Your ED is right old bastard for causing you to have self-harm urges; hate it all the more for it. You're perfect and wonderful and nobody should ever have to go through this hell. I love you, and know that I'm here - don't give up now. Xxx
Gaining weight = gaining bone, gaining muscle, gaining fat, gaining flesh, gaining mind, gaining self, gaining you. Gaining weight does not = becoming fat, becoming ugly, becoming hated, becoming out of 'control', becoming lazy, becoming stupid.
You may like your body like this for now, but you'll love your real body even more. This isn't the way yours, or anybody's, body was meant to be. You like it in a sick, disordered way; you know that feeling of seductive, poisonous relief when you can touch your skeleton and know you're too small? That feeling, this feeling of liking your body slowly burning away into bone, bone, skin, pure, bone, is the thing that will destroy you and drive you into your grave by the end of the year, if you let it. Don't let it.
Your disorder is like a Venus flytrap. It lures you in with its promise if skinnybonecontrolperfectionbeautylovehappinessthin, and you're so absorbed by the lies of it all that, when it finally snaps shut and destroys you, it's too late. There's that final panic at the end of 'wait-no-no-I-was-kidding', but it's too late, and then you die a very painful and lonely death.
Don't let yourself be lured in. You know how this ends. Stay strong, love, and don't believe a single thought you think of liking your bones.
Never be scared of gaining weight. Gaining weight means growth. Gaining weight means repair, and life. Gaining weight means breaking free. To be able to gain weight and not feel guilty at all - that's an amazing feeling.
Here's the trouble; that you think skinny is good. Sure, it's good for now, but the rush of weight-loss is very addictive, and will be nearly impossible to resist. It's impossible to maintain an underweight weight that's unnatural for your body, and be simultaneously recovered. (I tried to be 'recovered' when I was underweight for a very long time. It just doesn't work.) If you're having to count calories and/or exercise to 'keep your weight down', then the weight that you're at is simply not right for your body, and this is something you'll have to accept. Not accepting this will only lead to more intense body hate, low self-esteem and, ultimately, an eating disorder.
Undo the lies you believe. Challenge the shit out of all those thought; skinny girls are not better, happier people. They are just - people. People like you with insecurities, fears, worries. These things do not go away if you reduce your body mass.
You cannot recover by 'exercising and eating healthy'. End. You need to be able to let your body gain weight, gain fat, and eat the foods you never thought you could. You need to do the thing that seems 'lazy', and 'fattening', and 'bad', and let your body take that much-needed rest and feed it with little bits of everything.
Ultimately, you want to be able to eat anything without anxiety and to miss 'exercise time' without anxiety. The true aim of recovery is flexibility and acceptance towards yourself, no matter what you ate or how much you exercised; if your exercise and eating habits are encouraging the opposite, then you know you need to stop.
I've been told so many times that 'relapse is normal'.
Immediately, the disordered side of me became ecstatic.
Relapsing is normal! F*@#!ing yes, let's relapse! If I don't relapse, I'll be a bad anorexic, because everyone relapses. So let's plan a relapse baby -
You get the idea.
What that saying should really be is:
Relapsing is 'normal', just like tripping up is normal.
However! You wouldn't trip up on purpose, just because 'oh, it happens'. (It would just hurt, and not do you any good.)
Don't let your ED tempt you into relapse, just because 'it happens'. That's gonna hurt too, and definitely won't do you any good.
Did you honestly like your body when it was at a low BMI last time? No! You despised it. Our bodies will never be enough for our eating disorders. Not thing enough, toned enough, anything enough.
EDNOS is a real eating disorder, just as serious as anything else. BED is a real eating disorder, just as serious as anything else. All disordered eating is serious and potentially deadly, and extremely damaging. If you are suffering to any extent, you deserve help.
Your ED will never let you be merely thin.
Your ED will never let you stop.
Your ED wants you to be a skeleton.
A skeleton. Pure bone. Pure white. Pure.
No skin, no fat, no organs, no heart, no you.
Your ED is an uncontrollable monster.
It will drive you to your death, if you let it;
don't you dare let it. You are worth more.
If you go with your ED, you will fail. There is nothing good down there.
In the end, you will either die, or recover.
If the disordered side of you got excited at the 'pure, pure, bone' part; you know ED is f*!@#ing with your mind and heart.
I hate it. I hate all of it. I hate eating disorders. They turn us into monsters.
Please share your feedback on this awesome post.
Thanks, Shannon, for sharing.