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The ‘Harry Potter’ Quote That's Inspiring Me to Move Forward in Eating Disorder Recovery

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Today I have been thinking (and we all know how disastrous it can be when I do this) about my eating disorder. I have been thinking about the ways in which it is able to control, change and affect me. I have been thinking about how damaging it is. I have been thinking how utterly rubbish I have been feeling lately because I have allowed it to take its hold. Here is what I have come up with.

I’m all for facts and science. These things are very important and are instrumental in treating a disorder of any kind, regardless of whether it impacts brain or body (or in this case, both). Additionally, I am interested by the science that gives reason to eating disorders, and re-feeding symptoms.

I’ve learned a lot about a variety of eating-related issues. For instance, I’ve learned that, with the development of orthorexia (an obsession with “clean” or healthy eating), there is a reason I felt as if I were actually making positive progress. I’ve learned that, when our bodies experience malnutrition, they begin to cut down on functions not deemed as absolutely necessary. This is why people with eating disorders often experience amenorrhea, hair loss, brittle bones and even why they feel the cold more.

I have learned that one of the things the human body does when it is starved, is it strips the fatty myelin coating off of its own nerves, to use for the fuel it is simply not being provided enough of. This is called demyelination. I’ve learned that this is why an eating disorder can feel like it is “working” for somebody who struggles with chronic pain, or something similar.

I have also learned that re-myelination, when nerves build that myelin coating back, is a painful process. No one ever talks about that. Perhaps they should start; it might serve as a preventative measure. Obviously, this whole process is ultimately worth it, and the initial starvation that led to our having to endure it is absolutely not worth anything. However, it can be a difficult time, and a very easy time to slip into relapse.

Through countless Google searches, in the dark corners of the internet, I have learned that the metabolism booting back into business is the reason why I have been spending my nights sleeping on top of the covers, instead of with the heater on like all of the locals who are feeling the minus three degree temperature. I am aware that eating disorders, and the consequent recovery from them, is the reason that 18 year olds are experiencing hot flashes, long before it is their time to have to.

And these symptoms are uncomfortable, frustrating and irritating. They’ll be worth every moment, when they’re long gone, and mind and body are healed. But as they happen, they suck. But there’s something I worry about, besides the bloating, weight distribution edema, head spins, cystic acne and other physical fun stuff.

I worry about me. Who I am and how I come across. I know that my eating disorder can sometimes make me angry, frustrated and on edge. I know my eating disorder can render me intolerant and snappy (not always unreasonably so, but sometimes). I also know that this is not who I want to be, nor is it how I want to live.

I want to eat cake on people’s birthdays and try international cuisines. I want to bake cookies for my friends, and drink coffee in cute little cafe spots, or at picnics. I want to go on vacation and enjoy myself because meals are not all I’m thinking about. I want to be happy, kind and patient. I don’t want the wrong sauce on my spaghetti to send me spiraling into a frenzy.

So I’ve been thinking of how to achieve this magical future I know is attainable, and, as so many things in my life seem to, I have come back to my prevailing life theme of Harry Potter. I can feel I’m probably losing you at this point, but give me a chance.

In the fifth Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” Voldemort has returned to full form, nobody yet believes Harry and he has become a social outcast and the whole wizarding war is teetering on the edge of kicking up a few serious notches.

Harry is becoming increasingly agitated, angry and irritable. He can often be found snapping at his friends over inconsequential dramas (and they are growing tired of tolerating him). But do we hate Harry? No! Because it’s not Harry’s fault. Harry is angry and irritable, even sometimes a little difficult to be around (as I know I must be too, occasionally) because there is a piece of Voldemort inside of him, making him feel this way. Do you see where I’m going with this?

I am not the things my disorder makes me think, say or do. I simply have a bit of Voldemort who is taking control too often right now. My eating disorder is the accidental Horcrux buried inside of me (would you believe, I’ve even got a facial scar — it’s as if I’m Harry himself!) and I have a mission to destroy it.

“Neither can live while the other survives.” The prophecy holds very true. I cannot live if my eating disorder tries to kill me, and I cannot live any full kind of life whilst stuck in its clutches. So I will stop it, I will get rid of it, I will banish it from my body. It is I who will be thriving and surviving, not the disorder. I am working very hard, and will be working very hard, to annihilate this particular struggle from my life and I will leave no space for it return.

Today it begins. And my epilogue, too, will read the words, “All was well.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Lead photo via Harry Potter Facebook page

Originally published: November 4, 2017
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