It’s OK to Yearn for Your Eating Disorder
I can’t think of many people who don’t sometimes have a yearning to be young again — young enough not to have a care in the world, to spend your days on playdates and building dens. It’s an age where your only tough life decisions revolve around which teddy to cuddle at night and who can sit in the front seat of the car. You raced for it, didn’t you?
This was somewhat what it felt like to have an eating disorder. Every decision was made for me; school suddenly became easy again as I was asked only to do as much as I felt like, and anything that was once a stress for me was forgotten — work, studying, visiting family, tidying, even making my bed. I was allowed to stay in bed all day and watch cartoons. I wrapped myself under blankets and spent most of my time drawing, doing jigsaws and binge-watching my favorite shows. Life suddenly became simple again and I was coddled like a baby. My teachers understood if I missed a lesson (or five) and after months of being too ill to fully function, this felt like a normal routine for me.
As a fully recovered anorexic, life is, let’s say, a little more hectic in comparison. I run my own business, I have moved out of my parent’s house, I have bills to pay and food to buy and being over 18, I am in charge of my own well-being. I need to organize my own doctor’s appointments, I drive myself everywhere and I have a dog to look after — a real, living thing that is my own responsibility and no one else’s. It can be overwhelming.
To be clear, I am in no way complaining. I have a life now, a purpose. I have passions and friends and a reason to get up in the morning, but there are moments when I miss the emptiness. I miss having no responsibility and I miss floating by day by day in a haze. It was easy.
But was easy really worth it? Humans are very good at looking back at things through rose-tinted glasses, and I am no different. I often forget the torment that accompanied my eating disorder — the arguments, the stomach pains, the resentment, the obsessive thoughts. If I were to write the pros and cons of having an eating disorder next to each other, the cons would go on for pages. Anorexia was a demon, and it told me the pain was worth it when it really wasn’t.
So, if you are sat here missing your illness, you are not a bad person. It is OK to miss a part of your life that was so big, that once felt like your only identity, but you are much more than that. It will take time, but that demon will fade and you will learn there is a life outside of anorexia.
Yes, I still miss my eating disorder sometimes, but I am alive, and this is something your eating disorder can never give you.
For more on Nicola Davis, see her published eating disorder recovery cookbook.