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The Scene From 'The Office' That Perfectly Describes My Life With an Eating Disorder

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If you are a fan of the American version of “The Office,” you may be familiar with the episode where Michael Scott, despite Dwight’s persistent objections, follows the GPS and drives his car into the lake. I was watching the episode and realized this scene parallels my own life in a way. I’m Michael Scott, the road is recovery, the GPS is my eating disorder. Dwight is my logic, and the lake is unhappiness, anxiety, depression and all the other negative results of following an eating disorder.

Why do we use a GPS? To help us navigate through life. My eating disorder worked similar to a GPS. When an obstacle came up my eating disorder always knew the next step to take. I didn’t do well on that test? Then I needed to skip the next meal. I was feeling sad? I needed to lower my calorie intake. A friend was in the hospital? I needed to count my calories from the entire week. And just like Michael Scott, I followed the GPS without question and ended up in the lake. My lake, however, was more metaphorical but just as cold, dark and suffocating. The GPS never recalculated when I was in the lake. It kept pretending that everything was fine, that I was fine. And I believed it. I was sinking in that lake while the GPS told me I was on the right path. I couldn’t see what my eating disorder was doing to me. It convinced me that everything was OK and that despite how I was feeling, I just had to continue on like I was.

I spent a very long time in that lake. Sometimes I’m not even exactly sure how I got out that first time. But I did, and I eventually started driving on that road of recovery. The road to recovery is not easy. There are not just ups and downs in the road. There are dead ends, dark tunnels and unpaved roads. But there are also roads that literally climb mountains, cross rivers and lead to unbelievable destinations. The second you chose to stop living with the eating disorder, is the second your life begins again. It will be painful and difficult, but it’s better than anything your eating disorder has to offer.

As I drive these roads, I still get input from my GPS often. My eating disorder still tries to take the wheel when things seem to be going wrong in my life. Most of the time I can ignore the directions it gives. But sometimes I follow the GPS and take that right turn back into the lake. But that’s OK because that’s what tow trucks are for. No matter how deep you are stuck in the eating disorder, you can always get out. Maybe you need to call for help or maybe you can just put the car in reverse and get back on the road.

So remember when you are about to drive into the lake, slam on the breaks and ask yourself, “Who’s driving this car?” The GPS may seem like it is, but you are behind the wheel. The eating disorder may be a part of you, but it can’t control you unless you let it. Be your own compass and lead yourself to the life you deserve.

Header image via “The Office” Facebook page

Originally published: April 7, 2019
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