I’ve come to the realisation that the universe doesn’t owe us anything. Believe what you will about why we are here and how this incandescent nebula of life came to be, but if you believe fulfilment could ever be achieved from submitting to the internal torture of an eating disorder, I promise you dear, the truth is the polar opposite. Just because the universe doesn’t owe you anything doesn’t mean you’re not worthy of everything. Love is an unlimited element and you don’t need a human right to excavate it so I beg of you to love yourself without conditions. You deserve the same love you try so desperately to give away to everyone else and you have the power to give it to yourself every day: by choosing to recover.
As romantic as my little intro sounds, there is nothing romantic about being afflicted by an eating disorder. In fact I believe my romanticism actually contributed to mine. You can’t really capture the essence of what an eating disorder feels like with words, especially since no two experiences are ever the same. For a topic so sensitive and difficult to comprehend, I feel like metaphors are as close as I could get to defining my feelings, but this blog is about recovery so let’s dive into it.
There’s usually a multitude of reasons why an ED takes hold and I believe one way to unwrap its grip is to seek out those fears, conscious or unconscious, and challenge them. I guarantee whatever they are, they are significantly less threatening than the murderous voice intruding your mind. Your disorder is a parasite but if you take its source away then it will get weaker, and by working with a therapist at CBT for a long time, I was able to dissemble my negative thoughts and assemble a sanctuary inside me where I am the god. I will not sugar coat it: recovery was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do because it goes against everything you think you want, but trust me when I say that every second of recovery is worth it.
For me a gigantic perpetrator of my illness, amidst the countless others, was that I was petrified of growing up and wanted to remain innocent, care-free and protected. By yielding to anorexia, I thought that I would be able to decelerate the passage of time, I would be pure and looked after. I internalised that if I was androgynously thin and I couldn’t sexually mature then the world would still treat me as it did when I was a child, but obviously time didn’t wait for me and it went on no matter how unhappy I was. Not to mention I became the thing that I needed protecting from the most… At the same time I also had an overwhelming desire for control and achievement, so understanding there was a contradiction between these reasons showed me how illogical and confused my thoughts were. What everyone has to understand is that eating disorders can be heavily contradictory and you need to be compassionate towards your or someone else’s incongruence, because we won’t find peace through punishing ourselves. I didn’t and you won’t.
I’m not going to say I’m 100% happy all the time because that’s another unrealistic goal, but I truly love life now that I’m recovered. I have every faith that you can and will too if you make the choice to choose life every instance. I am excited to see what unfolds every day and I am so grateful that I can now focus on the things that I care about, whether it be my passions and hobbies that I was forced to give up because I was too unwell, or relationships that were frayed. To recover you have to stop seeing food as the enemy. You have to see that it has no inherent evil and that all your worries regarding food are just conditioned responses. It’s literally all in your head. It takes time and patience, but I adore food now and that isn’t something anyone should apologise for.
Body image is a tricky one. Everyone will resonate with different self-help methods and most are beyond the scope of this blog but for me personally I found the knowledge of biology really transformed my mindset. Discovering how convoluted every feature of our anatomy is and what beautifully clever mechanisms we are made me determined to give my heart, nervous system, bones and the rest of me the nourishment it requires to continue being wonderful.
The truth is that you’re one of a kind. We all are. Everything that has happened for 13 billion years has had to pan out exactly how it did for you to be born; we are all tiny miracles of light and consciousness breathed into vessels of stardust. You may as well start to believe you’re special because it’s going to be true whether you agree or not and life gets a lot more fun when you do! Think of how much you could achieve if you poured the energy you put into your eating disorder into recovery and then creating a life you don’t need to escape from.
If you are suffering with a bad relationship with food, please know that you deserve support no matter how ill you think you are. YOU ARE NOT A FRAUD. The more you invalidate your pain, the longer your eating disorder will feed on that doubt. It may tell you that you’re “too fat to have an eating disorder” or that “you’ll stop when you’re thin”, but you must not consume those lies because, first of all, pain is immeasurable and completely subjective, and secondly anorexia won’t be satisfied before you’re dead. Don’t beat yourself up too much if you do relapse – you haven’t ruined anything, just take a deep breath and look to the future. Although, don’t look directly at it because you do have a very bright one! Please resist the urge to lie to everyone. One day you’ll care about yourself as much as everyone else does and you’ll be so proud of yourself. Choose to love yourself unconditionally. Choose recovery.