Turning Down the Volume of My Eating Disorder's Voice in the Summer

I set out with a goal in mind: finding a swimsuit. Easy enough, right? No. This can be a dreadful task. Every summer I cringe when I think of having to try on last year’s suit for fear that it may not fit.

This summer was no different. I found myself wanting to go out and play on the new paddle board my husband and I had gotten. But there was one thing holding me back: my drawer set aside just for swimsuits. I opened it, feeling my heart sink and my self-esteem drop even lower. I started sorting through them.

I had suits from my early 20s; hell, I had my first bikini in there. I half-smiled at some of the suits, remembering different places I had worn them. Then the memories took a turn for the worse, and my negative thought process started to turn up in volume.

You were better then.

You really let yourself go.

You are too old to wear that now.

People will cover their eyes when they see you in that.

I started to panic, and I quickly shut the drawer. I sat down and started to cry. I started to believe every single word I was telling myself in that moment. I told my husband I couldn’t go to the river and I needed to stay home. For a brief moment I was going to let this all sink in and start down a terrible path towards self-destruction again.

I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. As much as I wanted to hide, I wouldn’t allow myself. I’ve spent too many years hiding and punishing myself for being who I am. I quickly grabbed a suit and got ready to leave.

We had a great time at the river, although I was still being weighed down by the same negative talk, I made a promise to myself that I was going to ditch the old suits when I got home and go out that following week and look for a suit that felt good on my body, that made me feel comfortable and safe.

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.

What came first was looking for suits. I tried at least 10 different ones but couldn’t justify buying a suit when I had so many at home. I wrestled with the voice in my head. Don’t waste your money on these, all you have to do is listen to me and I can help you fit back into those old suits in the drawer. I promise if you just do exactly as I say, I can get you there.

That self-talk I like to refer to as “Ed,” my eating disorder’s voice. Ed thrives on moments like these. I left the store with nothing in hand. I went home and didn’t even touch the drawer because I considered what Ed was telling me. For a week I went back and forth between wanting to buy a new suit and start a new journey and also having a hard time letting go of the past. Then it dawned on me. This is a challenge I need to follow through on or else.

Saturday came around. I went back to the store and grabbed a bunch of suits. I went in with a clear mind and what I hoped was a accepting mind. My Ed voice turned up in volume as I finished trying on some that looked good and felt good. The voice said, No, don’t waste money on these, remember what I said, I can help you.

I was determined not to leave empty-handed this time. I grabbed the two I liked the most and pushed myself to the register. When I got home, I went immediately to the drawer I had been trying to avoid and hide from. I started tossing suits that served me no purpose anymore. I tried to remember that the memories didn’t have to be thrown away, just the fabric.

When I finally finished, I felt a sense of sadness, but an even greater sense of relief. I made a promise to my body that I was going to trust it through this process, and as hard and scary as that is, I think today was a win.

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