When My Therapist Shattered the Last Wall Around My Eating Disorder
“I’m fine” is a line that only works for a little bit. Especially with mental health professionals who can see through the thickest lie.
So, as to be expected, my favorite line was really just buying me time until a dreaded long talk with my therapist, Claire. The daily fight of getting her to believe that lie was getting harder every day. Claire was going to find out what was going on that day.
The session started like any other session. I promised Claire I would tell her what was really going on…soon…at some point. Of course, she picked this exact day to have absolutely none of this. She prodded as we meandered back to her office. By this point, she had narrowed it down to three possible situations. It was however, quite clear, that as I consistently came back stone cold sober every day, one scenario was ruled out. She had two to go. Maybe it was cutting. Wrists were clean, as were my legs. That just left one last scenario: I was engaging in my eating disorder.
Thinking Claire would be happy with just narrowing it down, I confirmed that it was indeed that. Not about to let me off the hook that easily, she pushed me until I broke. I sat crying on the couch, finally realizing my fight was done. No way was I walking out of this one clean. I told her I couldn’t verbally confirm or deny, but she was not shy about asking the questions. Was I purging? A shake of my head confirmed her fear. I was already restricting, and she knew it was bad; no way it could be worse than she knew. Diet pills? It came out as less of a question and more of a statement. All I could possibly do was nod and hide my face, curling up into fetal position sobbing. Knowing it was all over. No more secrets. No more university. No more anything. Claire, sensing my distress and the urgency of the situation, came to my side, stroking my hair away from my Niagra Falls of tears. It had finally broken. The last wall was shattered and the dam came down. Alas, a beautiful moment of raw emotion no one could have seen coming.
When I was going through life, diet pill after diet pill, I never thought I would wake to see a day without them. When my therapist reached out to me, I could see that, maybe, after all, I was going to be OK. It was OK that I wasn’t OK in that moment. I needed to take time to pick up the pieces with their help. Then, I could get back on my path, build off that negative experience, rediscover myself, find strength through the rubble and fight on, knowing I was never alone.
I guess my message to others would be to keep your head up. Never be too hard on yourself for needing a rest. Have people in your life who will catch you when you fall, rest with you, step back up and help you fight your demons. Lastly, no matter how far down you’ve gone down a path, you can turn around and walk the other way.
To anyone who has a child, student, coworker, employee, etc. with an eating disorder, I want to tell you this: be there for that person. You need to take care of yourself first, but be there when you are ready. By being there, it will be a beautiful gift to them, and a rewarding experience for you to help them grow.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call theNational Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.