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How I'm Learning to Listen for the Melody of Eating Disorder Recovery


Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

The food in my fridge sings to me. And I mean it really sings. I suspect this is another one of those situations only people with an eating disorder can genuinely understand.

I’ve talked about the voices before. All day long I think about food — what am I going to eat, should I eat it, can I grab that and hide away with it, can I sneak a few of those and nobody will notice, how many calories are in that, can I fit any more in, will anyone notice if I have another one, what shall I eat when I go home, is there any cheesecake left, how long since I last ate, can I eat yet? Yada, yada, yada. Incessant. It never stops. Perhaps you think I’m joking? Over exaggerating? I’m not. This goes on in my head, all the time.

But the singing thing? If I manage to distract myself long enough to do something else for a short period of time, as soon as I glance up or walk past the kitchen on the way to the bathroom or hear someone open the fridge or I smell something cooking — or a million other scenarios, the gentle siren song of the food in my fridge starts up.

It’s a delicate melody, with a very soft pulse — no time signature, no regularity. Just gentle melodic fluctuations and close harmonies slithering their way into my soul. It starts quietly, inaudibly, but before I know it, I’m hypnotized by the call of the food in my fridge. The calls get louder and more incessant, stronger and more powerful, until I can no longer resist. I’m drawn to the fridge, the door opens and the food is desperately chanting, Eat me! Eat me!

But today, I started to resist that song. Not a lot — just a tiny bit. I started to turn the volume down. I started to hear some of the discord in the harmonies. I started to resist, and I could hear a different song. A song with a comforting, regular pulse. A song with unfamiliar, predictable melodies. Easy to remember, easy to understand. Simple harmonies accompanying the heartbeat pulse and the gentle melody. A song of hope. A song of courage. A song of freedom. The song of recovery.

I can’t yet sing the song from memory — it’s not even the first melody that comes to mind to tell you the truth. I still hear the siren song of disordered eating running through my head like a colony of ear worms. But I’ve heard a new melody, and I’m going to be seeking it out.

I am on the road to recovery. I will learn the new melodies. I will rise up, every time I fall to the incessant call, I will remind myself I can do this. I have to believe it.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Thinkstock photo via incomobile.