04.22.18 // A Reminder For When You're Lost
And as I sat there, at the same spot, at the same timE as always; I knew. I was lost.
I knew that the rest of the bun was in the garbage, as was half of the veggie burger. I nodded my head and continued to pick the “extra” seeds and feta out of my salad as my mom talked to me about how this wasn’t a way to live, how I need to change, how I have the tools to change, how I didn’t deserve this life. I nodded as I threw that “extra” spinach on the ground for my dog to eat. I fought her; told her that it was my eating disorder, it wasn’t me. I agreed to eat what my family ate, when they ate it, sure! As long as I could pick out what I want, portion it exactly to my rules, and eat on my schedule. But other than that, I would totally do what they wanted.
As I kept picking, kept adjusting my food, kept controlling my intake, I knew I lost all control. I kept saying that it was my ED that was making me do this, and I knew that that was true. Eating disorders aren’t choices, they are severe psychological and physical diseases. The neural pathways in my brain have been deepening their disordered circuits for the last 5 years to make this behavoir the norm. All day my brain, not my mind, was telling me that food was dangerous. I was addicted to the temporary high I got from restriction, the high of that sense of control. Of course, that control and high leave faster and faster each time and suddenly, what I was doing yesterday wasn’t enough to get that same rush today.
Recovering from an eating disorder is about so much more than the food, it’s about learning how restriction (or other behaviors) serves a purpose in your life. It’s about regaining your identity, the one that the eating disorder consumes (ironically) wholly. And those steps are exceptionally important in recovery, but first things first, you have to eat. When you’re starving your body for so long, or purging, or bingeing - your levels are dangerously off, you can’t cognitively process what recovery means or how to get there, and you literally think differently because you are so malnourished. To change your coping mechanisms from disordered to healthy, you first need to get to a place where you are physically healthy.
And here’s where the fun starts my brain, is wired right now to see food as dangerous. So to recover, I have to face those fears every single day, multiple times a day. It’s not a matter of just grinding down and ‘getting er’ done’, that would be way too simple and I wouldn’t be writing this. Every time I face food, all my insecurities come up. If I eat too much I think I’ll be a failure. I’ll think no one will love me ever. I feel out of control. I feel unsafe in my own body, I feel like I’ll get ill, the thoughts of failure and guilt take over and I can’t function. I think that’s one of the reasons that it’s so hard to recover, because how much easier is it to just avoid that pain that comes with eating?
But as I sat there, at the same spot I always sit at, at the same time, I knew that I was lost. I knew that the highs weren’t worth the lows. I knew that being all consumed by thoughts of eating, food, portions, calories, weight, and fear, were not, and have never been worth the two minute high you get from the disorder. The disorder has caused me to drop out of school, it’s taken away relationships from me, it’s put me in the hospital, caused me to feel lows that were so deep I didn’t think I would get out. I could write sagas about how this disorder really takes every good thing away from your life, but I don’t want to overdo the point, all you need to know, is that there is no conception of a happy life with an eating disorder. It’s hard to remember that though when you sit down to eat and all those fears come up.
So that’s why I writing this. To remind me, and remind you, that the fear goes away the more you face it. I’ve done it before, and it’s time to do it again. Keep going, because there is nothing more terrifying than a life defined by your disorder.