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How I Talk Back to My Eating Disorder

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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 741741.

I am very aware of the size of my body. I see it every time I pass a mirror or a window. I think about it every time I eat in public. It pops into my head when I take up “too much space” on a bus. It’s on my mind and I am constantly wondering what others think of how I look. I’m working on caring less, but this is a very real fact of my existence.

Being in eating disorder recovery isn’t easy. I am faced with challenges every day and lately I’ve thought about using behaviors. I fantasize about the relief of using my eating disorder behaviors. I ruminate on these thoughts. I allow them to get the best of me and sometimes, I act on them.

There is something significantly different about using those behaviors now versus when I did in the past. I not only know better, but I trust my body in a way I never have before. I trust it to show up for me when I treat it well. I trust that it will be OK with food I put into it without the need to compensate. I trust that my body can handle most situations that even my mind doesn’t think it can.

My body is smarter than my mind will ever be. In this way, I must learn to have forgiveness for it. I must also learn to accept my body for wherever it is on a certain day. I can show up for my body in a way nobody else can — I have the agency to be kind to it, nurture it and nourish it.

Recently I was told by a healthcare professional that the solution to my chronic pain was weight loss. I was given a slew of solutions, some which were a result of cutting calories, exercising more and even taking a pill to suppress my appetite. My eating disorder latched onto this with a fury. In an effort to talk back to my eating disorder, I shut down in the conversation with the professional. I went into my head and immediately started responding to the hateful self-talk with positive, reassuring validation. “I am OK just the way I am. She doesn’t know what is going on with me so she’s blaming it on my weight. My weight is independent of my health. Other indicators of my health came back saying I am otherwise healthy.”

By talking back to my eating disorder, I can find power in my voice. I know my hatred towards my body stems from a lot more than my weight and I’m learning to face these things in therapy. My eating disorder is a result of choosing a solution that I thought would work when my life was chaotic and I didn’t have control over my surroundings. Today I still don’t have total control — a fact I face on a daily basis — but I do have control over how I respond.

I love the slogan, “I am responsible for my second thought and my first action.” I can’t control the thoughts that pop into my mind, but I am in control of how I respond. I can choose to be kind and loving towards myself, or I can choose to be hateful and evil. It’s up to me; they are my thoughts.

While this is about my pain not being taken seriously, it’s also about listening to my eating disorder thoughts, validating them and choosing to take a different action that will better my health. This is about choosing the next right thing, which is likely feeding myself and allowing that food to nourish my body. This is about moving toward a recovered life.

Unsplash via Annie Spratt

Originally published: October 15, 2018
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