Shining Light on the Darkness of Anorexia
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 741741.
The most challenging thing I have ever done in my life is recovering from an eating disorder. It was painful to let go of my comforting habits of counting calories, eating clean, avoiding fats and extreme exercise. Doing the opposite of what I craved to do every day was debilitating. Letting go of my eating disorder removed the wall between me and myself, causing me to face what I thought was the scariest thing in the world: myself.
For so long, I had been trying to run away from my deepest darkest insecurities and emotions. I wanted to desensitize myself by starving my soul to numb everything. I thought that if I focused and dedicated my life to this one thing, everything would be OK. Nothing else in the world would matter if I had control over this one tiny thing. It gave me the sense of control and comfort I desperately craved. From day one of this mindset, little did I know, I lost all control. I handed over my life to an illness that would slowly but dangerously damage my social life, my health, and most importantly, my sense of self.
I am constantly battling demons. Trying to recover is like facing your biggest fear, and it’s letting go of what makes you feel safe and secure. It feels like running into no-mans land. Recovery means letting go of the unhealthy coping mechanisms I use to make me feel safe and in control. I need to get out of my trench and fight. It is uncomfortable, it is scary, and it feels like torture. But at the end of the tunnel, I know there is light, happiness and health. I need to battle to get better because if I am not, I’m dying.
Eating for most people is straightforward: food is yummy, food makes you feel good. But for someone with an eating disorder, the joys of eating get over-ridden by the fear of losing control, gaining weight and dealing with negative feelings. Restricting my food intake was a way to suppress negative feelings about myself and others. Emotions are impactful for me, especially when I am around negative people with negative vibes. I am an empathetic person, so my emotions are heavily impacted by other people’s opinions, actions and words. When someone criticizes me, the feelings are so powerful that I take the criticisms to heart. Since I am a perfectionist, I will often beat myself up for other people’s feelings towards me. It’s preposterous when you think about it, because you can not control people’s feelings and actions. But the perfectionist inside of me always wants to take control of everything.
Restricting my intake satisfied my need to control. But just like an addiction, I craved more. I would end up longing for a greater sense of control by eating less and less and less until I was eating even less than what a toddler would eat. I was a zombie. No emotion at all. My memory suffered severely. But I continued to restrict myself because I didn’t want to lose control and deal with the horrid emotions. I would rather deal with no feelings than all emotions, including negative ones.
My body was very fatigued; walking was a chore. I can not remember much from restricting because it is such a blur. My body was eating itself because it didn’t have the energy to function. I remember sitting in french class, not listening to my teacher. Too tired to learn, too tired to even think. Something was off in my mouth; it tasted like salami. My breath must have been atrocious. I knew it was my body eating my muscle. But I couldn’t eat, even though I wished I could. Anorexia wrecks your body, and it will keep wrecking you until you reach the grave.
Anorexia deserves to be talked about in a proper, informative manner. The term shouldn’t be tossed around like a joke. I myself, have been witness to many people cracking jokes about it, totally unaware I am fighting my own battle.
“Recovery Is Relevant” is a podcast I have put my heart and soul into, in order to educate and have others understand the darkness that the illness creates. The effect an eating disorder has on the individual is devastating; my goal is to validate peoples struggles and make them feel heard, understood and not alone on their journey to recovery.
I have put myself into a very vulnerable position making this podcast. But I have been willing to put myself in this position in order to raise awareness of this issue.
Listen to my podcast, “Recovery is Relevant,” on any podcast platform.
Getty image by Borut Trdina