Looking back on the time I spent in the prison of an eating disorder, I have newfound compassion for my hurting, food-obsessed younger self. I want to hug her, cry with her, and love her unconditionally and be the voice of reason when people told her “Why don’t you just eat?”
I remember feeling confused as I pondered that question in the darkness of my room. Why couldn’t I just eat? It wasn’t like I was afraid of food. In fact, I loved food.
I spent hours scrolling Pinterest and Instagram looking at all the wonderful and flavorful creations that filled my screen. My favorite TV station was Food Network. So, what was my problem?
My now older and wiser self would have grabbed the little tear stricken face of the confused little girl and said, “It’s not just about the food.”
Contrary to many assumptions made about anorexia, it’s not always a fear of food that unplugs the tide. It’s so much more complicated than that. As I was healing my body, soul, and mind I made myself come face to face with the true catalysts that sent me spiraling into a lonely and painful period in my life.
1. Eating disorders give you a (false) sense of control
My eating disorder began during a hard time in my life. My environment had a major shift and I went from a carefree atmosphere to one that was filled with worry and unpredictability.
Everything felt out of control. So, I looked to something that no one could take away from me – control of myself.
I thought that the more I control my eating habits, the more I would be in control of my life. Little did I know that this kind of “control” was a false control. I was no longer in touch with myself, but rather had allowed the eating disorder to take the wheel of my life – and it had no intentions of keeping me safe.
2. They numb your pain
With all the turmoil that surrounded my life, I was dealing with waves of panic, depression, and other intense feelings I had never dealt with before.
I wanted all the gut twisting pain to stop. As I began restricting more and more, my life started to feel like it was covered in a thick, heavy fog. My body functions were slowly starting to shut down. And with that, my emotions faded away into a blur.
But at the time, I loved that deep sensation of numbness. I craved it. Little did I know that with each passing second of numbness, my brain cells were slowly dying. My relationships were being starved. And my soul was going into deep hibernation without the guarantee of ever waking up again.
3. Eating disorders prey on low self-worth
“I just want to be skinny!”
That’s what most people would expect a person who struggles with anorexia to say about the cause of their eating disorder. But underneath that blanket statement is always an underlying one: “I just want to be beautiful.”
When did beautiful and skinny become interchanging words?
It began when someone told me (or I told myself) I wasn’t enough. My soul’s self worth was not meeting the expectations. Social media told me if I looked like them, I would finally be enough. But that day never came.
I sit here and realize that I traded my personal self-worth for other’s opinions – and they trampled me. “I want to be skinny/beautiful.” was actually a cry of, “I want to be loved/accepted/special.”
With all these complex components and false truths in the mind of a person with anorexia, it is so much more than just food.
The moment I truly accepted these facts was the moment I allowed myself to be open to the wonderful aspects of the world. Recognizing this allowed me to meet myself for the first time. I got to meet a girl who is smart, compassionate, loved, beautiful, graceful, and purely unique.
And you know what? You can meet her too. Because that girl lives in every single one of us. She is just waiting for you to take the first step.
So, when are you going to make the introduction?
Image source: Flickr