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The Words From My Therapist That Kept Me Fighting Anorexia

Last week, I came to a point in my journey where I just wanted to give up fighting my anorexia. If restricting wasn’t good for me, I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to put in the effort to make the best decisions for my body anymore. I didn’t feel worth the fight. I felt more dead than alive.

But It was a few words from my therapist that kept me from giving up.

I went in for therapy at my usual time last week and sat down across from her. I had already made up my mind — I was going to try and push her away. I did not want to hurt her or worry her, and I felt like I was wasting her time. In that moment, not even a small percentage of me wanted to get better. I did not have any fight left in me.

As some people struggling with eating disorders might do, I lost track of my values for a moment so I could act on disordered behaviors. I was overcome with frustration that she was still trying to support me, because in that moment, I felt too hopeless for recovery. I told her, “Just give up.” I did not want someone else fighting on my team against the eating disorder if recovery felt so unattainable.

She said, “I’m not giving up on you. I am holding enough hope for the both of us.”

This brought up a lot of emotion for me, and even a week later, I am still processing it. In my experience, some people with eating disorders find their safety in their eating disorder. I do not find safety in human beings, in life, or in my body’s need for food — I find it in acting on my eating disorder. I have had very negative experiences with therapists and doctors who I have seen for my eating disorder in the past. I found that many of these professionals were not experienced with “chronic eating disorders” — ones that may not respond to treatment the first time, or the second time, or the even the 14th time.

Even if recovery, or choosing recovery, takes multiple attempts, it is still attainable if you do not give up fighting the eating disorder.

This is something my therapist teaches me every time I talk to her. My therapist is recovered from an eating disorder. The power in even sitting in the same room with her is unmeasurable. She shows me that recovery is possible even on the days it seems like my life is filled with nothing but anorexia’s goals.

Those simple words, “I won’t give up on you,” challenged a core belief I have that no one had challenged before: that I was worth recovery and that people cared about my survival.

Sometimes, when we are in our eating disorders, having someone challenge the belief that we are not worth anything more than restriction and having that person yell louder than the eating disorder for us — it’s scary and unsettling. For me, it also gave me this overwhelming feeling of relief and security, which are two feelings that rarely occur outside of the context of my eating disorder.

If you have someone in your life who is willing to stand up to the eating disorder, you may have conflicting emotions about this. You may feel threatened, unworthy, scared, frustrated, or even angry. I stand with you. Having someone in your life who cares more about you than your eating disorder can be a terrifying yet sobering thought. My advice to you if you are faced with this situation is to be vulnerable and allow yourself to feel your emotions and continue to let this person hold hope for you. As much as our eating disorders might want us to fight this all on our own, there is great strength and security to be found in authentic care for the person behind the mask of the eating disorder.

You don’t have to fight this alone.

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 mrljanica