When My Eating Disorder Feels Like a Bad Horror Movie
I’m sitting on my couch and watching a girl on the run. She’s being followed by something – a predator that doesn’t jump out at her from the dark, but instead walks slowly, which is somehow creepier. I already know what’s going to happen. I know what she needs to do to save herself, and yet an impenetrable screen separates me from her world. All I can do is watch her fall right into the trap, like I’ve seen so many times before.
I want to just turn it off, but I can’t. I am that girl, and my killer’s weapon is starvation.
There’s a distinct separation taking place in my head when I’m caught up in disordered eating habits. It feels like a part of me – the broken, hurting part of me – splits off, taking control in the only way it knows how. And the rational side of me watches, a spectator, unable to change a thing.
Every new diet, every compulsion to exercise is another snare in the trap, a twist in the maze, a lock on the door that keeps me inside. When I’m restricting, I’m doing exactly what my killer wants me to do. But no matter how hard I pound on the screen, I can’t get myself to stop.
The horror-movie moments caused by my eating disorder are much less frequent than they used to be. Two years ago, my life was a nonstop reel of undereating, overexercising, and punishing my body for what it was. These days I might go for days at a time without so much as a guilty thought. But every now and then, I jump back into the same tired, overused scene. I resume my role as the victim of my own poisonous thoughts. And my frustration and dread compounds.
When I’m in those moments, I know how to prevent them. I just don’t know how to tell myself to do it. At least, not yet. The only way to win is to rewrite the story.
Recovery is a new script I’m still trying to memorize. It’s a script that contains acceptance, forgiveness, and self-love. For me, that’s like reading in a completely different language – but with practice, I’ll be able to recite it by heart. So the next time the villain comes creeping down the hallway, I’ll be ready.
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If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.