What I Want to Tell My Eating Disorder Treatment Team
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.
To the dietitians, therapists and doctors treating patients with eating disorders: Please know I can hear you.
I hear you tell me to trade the negative behavior for a positive behavior. I hear you tell me to focus on my values and not give into my eating disorder (ED). I hear you stress about my medical stability and how I’m not immortal. I hear you talk about my meal plan and how I should stay off the scale. I hear you when you tell me over and over to trust the process of eating disorder recovery. I promise I am listening and not deliberately ignoring you.
I am caught in the middle of the biggest tug of war with my life. I am not sure how to fully live without an eating disorder. I question if I can live a more “rational” and “normalized” life. You ask me to let go of my behaviors, and I cringe at the thought because these behaviors have given me a sense of comfort, solitude and control in my life. Albeit, a false sense of comfort, solitude and control — and that is why I am listening to you. I understand that I am the only ones who can let go of this eating disorder, but sometimes fear creeps in and grips me at the core.
Values. You tell me to, “Find your values and connect with them to bring focus on what the most important things in life really are.” I am searching for my values. I am trying to allow them to surface while combating the loud, screaming voice of my eating disorder that is fighting equally hard to suppress my values. The voice of the disorder seems to get louder at first. It seems easier to succumb to ED then to fight against it. I can hear the exacerbation in your voice at times. I want to sigh right along with you as I barely tread water — so please keep telling me to focus on what is important. I am listening.
Medical stability. Yes, I hear you when you say eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Do I think I’m immortal? No. Truth be told, I’m often scared for myself. The sense of control I assumed I had in the beginning now controls me, and I’m not sure how to ask for help. Even when help is offered, I’m afraid to accept it because I might feel unworthy. So please, don’t give up on me when I push back against your recommendations. I ask for forgiveness when I fight and use harsh words. All the negative comments I say to you are really meant for my eating disorder — you just happen to take the blows. I am trying to learn how to love myself and accept all that you are offering to me. Keep offering your advice and support even when we say I don’t want it — because I really do.
Trust the process. Trust is something I probably don’t hand out easily. My eating disorder tells me to trust no one and to isolate myself from everyone. Extending my trust to you scares me. I am afraid of getting hurt, while opening up about the webs my ED has created. Setting aside certain expectations I have of treatment and trusting the process is something I know I should do to embrace recovery. I hear you. Our trust may fail many times as I struggle, persevere and struggle some more. Keep telling me to trust the process. Keep encouraging me along the way. I am my biggest cheerleader and own worst critic. I hear you coaching me along the path to recovery. When I am unable to cheer for myself, please continue to cheer for me. I am listening.
Thank you to the dietitians, therapists and doctors treating patients with eating disorders. Know that your advice, words of support and genuine concerns are being heard. I hear your voice among the chaos of my ED voice. As I learn to suppress that negative voice, your advice takes a greater stance in my life. So please, don’t stop talking, or decide to pass me onto the next dietitian, therapist or doctor. I promise I hear you — and I am beyond thankful for your support. I will eventually start using my voice to advocate for myself and take hold of my own recovery.
Thank you to every dietitian, therapist and doctor, past and present, that has given their time to help me throughout the course of my treatment. I heard you and I still hear you. I have learned something from each of you. Your effort was not in vain. I was truly listening to your compassionate words of wisdom. My stubbornness has led me to a place of humility. I am holding onto the hope of recovery and the time you have invested in me.
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Thinkstock photo via nazileom