Even if eating disorders are not about attention and eating disorder sufferers may go to extreme lengths to hide symptoms and keep their struggles a secret for months or years it can feel as though an eating disorder is a part of your identity and it is the only thing about you that makes you unique or different. When people comment “I wish I was as thin as you” or “how do I lose weight” the negative attention can spur a sufferer on to lose more weight. I want to emphasise that it is not so much about weight or looks but more to do with a low self steem.When you have low self esteem and low self worth you may seek validation from others and be very conscious of what others think. You may feel as though people will stop caring about you when you are no longer sick and underweight. You may also feel unworthy of recovery as you do not believe you have any good qualities so when you lose the eating disorder there will be nothing left.
But the reality is that there is nothing unique or special about having an eating disorder.There are millions of people struggling with eating disorders. Struggling with an eating disorder isn’t something you should be ashamed off however it doesn’t make you unique or special. But choosing recovery everyday and making difficult choices to get your life back and fighting against a mental illness, now that is something inspiring and something to be proud off!
When you gain weight people may start to comment that you “look better” which may feel uncomfortable first but you should feel proud of this! Do not be ashamed that people notice your healthy beautiful body coming back to life, that they notice a genuine smile on your face rather than a fake, strained one. That they notice the air of happiness and energy you bring into the room. Even though at times you may feel like you have no value beyond the eating disorder and you want to give up;dont! Because you can accomplish things in life. There are things you can be proud of and you can accomplish things. Have a desire to be more than the thin, numb,pale,cold shell of a human being you once were.
People like you for who YOU are. For your sense of humour, your talents, caring nature,for whatever it is that makes you unique. People will still care about you when you are healthy. Do you really want to be stuck in an eating disorder all your life? Treated like the “sick friend or daughter/son” Or maybe its time to leave it behind you. To take responsibility and make your life great because only you can do that. Be proud of all the things you have courage to do in life. Even if you fail once or twice it is better to attempt something than to stay stuck.
I always remind myself when I want to give up of the pain the eating disorder caused my mum. The arguments it caused. The lies and hiding and physical pain. The stress it caused.
There are some days (those these are few) where I cannot stand the weight I’ve gained. I feel huge and heavy on the outside yet feel horrid and awful and insignificant and small on the inside. I care too much what people think.The self hate burns inside and the low feelings feel like too much.But in reality I know the weight I have gained will not stop me from living my life. Its the eating disorder that will. Its not the weight gain that will stop me from being happy its my mind-set towards it.Relapsing into my eating disorder will not bring any happiness nor will it make me a better person.Binging and purging wont get rid of the self hate and low feelings. I don’t want to shrink myself and hide behind anorexia anymore, I don’t want to use feeling depressed as a reason to binge and purge anymore. I’d rather say I recovered from an eating disorder than to be a statistic, one of the millions suffering with this illness.
For me setting goals that are incompatible with weight loss helps and reminding myself of why I am recovering.For example I am running a half marathon in May, possibly joining an athletics club I have been looking at travelling to South America for 1-3 months in the summer and then going to uni to do nursing. I want to prove to myself that true happiness comes from living life and not from self destruction.
Your eating disorder does not make you special but recovery just might. Recovery will give you the chance to rediscover who you are beyond your struggles.To accomplish, to help others, to travel the world, to study, to volunteer, to have a family.to discover.That is special. Recovery is not something that gets a day off. Its not”oh I have gained the weight, I am done now”.
I would like to finish this post by saying I hope I have not come across in a way that suggests an eating disorder is about attention seeking or a choice because trust me it is not. I also want to point out its not about weight and an eating disorder is still valid if you are not underweight or have never been underweight.
“You didn’t just lose weight.
The weight was incomparable.
Incomparable to the hair, The bone density and the passion.
Incomparable to the smile on your face and the glimmer in your eyes. Totally irrelevant, in comparison to the nails and the teeth;
even the nutrients in your blood slowly wasted away
until your heart could barely beat.
That little heart kept fighting, for you, though.
It struggled on beat by beat and so should you. Why?
Because there’s no adulation in anorexia.
There’s no congratulations or looks of admiration
. There are just blank stares from the people who once knew you,
looking at your broken shell.
There’s no fucking medal or badge of honour. It’s not impressive.
But what is impressive? Standing tall, healthy and proud,
saying ‘yes, I have anorexia nervosa. But it doesn’t have me anymore”
-remember what it took from you