Why I Miss My 'Sick Body' in Eating Disorder Recovery
I never wanted to look sick. I never wanted people to give me dirty looks or make rude comments about my body. I never wanted my parents to worry each night that this might be the night my heart stops in my sleep. I never wanted to spend time in hospitals on bed rest or be force fed or committed to the psychiatric unit where I would spend most of my high school years. And I defiantly never want to be forced to leave college to go to a long-term recovery center for an entire year. I never wanted to be anorexic; but if this is all true, why do I miss it so much?
I have been so frustrated and confused with myself lately for longing to be ill. Why would I want to be ill again? Why would I want to go back to hospital rooms and daily weight ins, if I fought so hard to get away from those things?
Then it hit me. The other day I was eating my dinner, completely wrapped up in my own thoughts about the calories, my fat stomach and feeling guilty for eating this meal, when my mom’s friend made an innocent comment about my food that made my already difficult dinner feel impossible to eat and keep down. The room started spinning and my body felt like it instantly doubled in size. I felt panicked, it was hard to breath. I asked my mom to come in the other room with me for a minute, thinking if I tried to reach out that I could get through this. I began to try to put words to my emotions. I tried to explain the thoughts racing through my head. I tried to paint the picture of how disgusting and guilty I felt for eating, but I did a terrible job. And all she said was “Oh, your just too sensitive”
Instantly, I missed my old body. I realized in that moment it is not so much the sick body I missed, but rather feeling heard without having to say a thing. Because when I was ill, people could see the pain I was in. They could see how much I struggled, how painful eating was for me. But now in my healthy body they cannot see the never-ending thoughts about calories, food, weight, self-hatred, the constant guilt and so on that continues even in my new healthy body. My healthy body masks the torture I am prisoner to.
It was then that I realized it is not my old body that I miss, but rather how that old body put life to the emotional and mental pain I am constantly in.
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Getty image via Kate Shamanska