Do I Even Want to Recover from My Eating Disorder?
''I want recovery but I also want to get more sick''
There comes a point in life where you’ve had enough with your eating disorder. Every day officially becomes a struggle and you experience probably one of your lowest points with your disorder. With that, comes the acceptance of being sick (at least on some level). You realize that it is a real problem that you are dealing with. But you feel stuck. Stuck between ‘‘I want to get better… I can’t do this anymore’’ and ‘‘I want to stay this way, I want to keep going, to see where this ends’’. This starts a constant debate within yourself, where you come up with one reason to get better and multiple arguments defending your disorder:
1. ‘‘My eating disorder makes me feel good.’’
Eating disorders are maintained for a reason: it brings good feelings or helps you avoid negative ones. For example, if you are struggling with anorexia, sadly, you might receive compliments on your weight loss and comments about how good you look. If you are struggling with binge eating, you might be releasing the tension caused by your negative emotions by eating lots of food. Just the act of dieting itself might make you feel like you are in control, when everything else is chaotic. Or it might give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. All of these may reasonably make you believe that your eating disorder makes you feel good. However, let’s stop to think together: all these but at what cost? The ‘‘positive’’ feeling that lasts until everything comes falling down, how long does it last? Is it worth all the other negative consequences that come with your eating disorder: low self-esteem, social isolation, ..? It is not.
There are other ways to feel good, like self-love, intimacy, stronger relationships, hobbies.
2. ‘‘My eating disorder is a part of who I am now.’’
You might be defining yourself over your disorder. It can be scary to let go of something that you feel strong association with. You might think ‘‘Who am I without my eating disorder? What kind of person am I without it?’’. Currently, your eating disorder does not allow space for anything but itself. It is like a toxic partner, it is a one-sided relationship where you give your all and get nothing in return. It is disrespectful, tries to control you, wants constant attention, makes you feel guilty if you care about anything else, resents you and makes you resent yourself too. Just like a toxic relationship, it becomes your whole life and makes you believe that you are nothing without them. But let me tell you, your eating disorder is a manipulative liar. Imagine how life can be, when you recover, when you no longer spend all of your energy on your eating disorder. You will have the motivation, time and energy to discover who you are as a person and what you enjoy!
There is more to you than your eating disorder.
3. ‘‘I can’t imagine a life without my eating disorder.’’
After suffering for many years, you get use to living with your eating disorder. As previously mentioned, your life becomes all about your eating disorder. Everything revolves around what you eat and how you want to look. So it is very understandable that you think there is no life without your eating disorder. You simply cannot imagine a world where you don’t struggle with food or your body image. That world is unknown to you and the unknown can be very scary. Your comfort zone feels more safe, even though it literally hurts you. But when you take that one teeny tiny step out, you will see that a life without your eating disorder and maybe the unknown isn’t as bad as you think it will be.
There is more to life than what you eat and how much you weigh.
4. ‘‘I will gain weight if I recover and I don’t want that.’’
Regardless of what you struggle with; recovery is commonly associated with the one thing that individuals struggling with an eating disorder try to avoid: weight gain. However, this is not always true as the focus of recovery is not weight gain. If you are so severely underweight, the primary focus will be weight gain as we want to keep you alive. Recovery outcomes regarding weight are different for other disorders, it is possible that you lose or maintain your weight too. It is difficult to generalize a certain outcome to everyone, as every body is unique. What is important is that your weight will stabilize at a point that your body feels comfortable and safe.
Think about all the things that you will gain back with recovery: your social life, mental health, happiness and much more!
5. ‘‘I am not sick enough anyways.’’
This is the sinister voice of your eating disorder, once again telling you that you are not enough, to prevent you from getting better. There is no such thing as ‘‘being sick enough’’. There is no severity threshold that you need to pass to deserve treatment. You might believe that only people who are exceptionally ill go to therapy. That is simply not true. I cannot stress this enough. You don’t have to be extremely sick, or dying to ‘deserve’ therapy. Read that again. Don’t wait to hit rock bottom to finally get the message that you need help. The earlier you accept this and start therapy, the better and easier it will be.
Suffering is suffering, there is no less or more, no comparison. You deserve to enjoy life to its fullest.6. ‘‘But I don’t know what to do anymore… I can’t go on like this.’’
Aha! This is the ultimate argument for recovery that will win against all the arguments supporting your eating disorder: your eating disorder is making you suffer. And that is not okay. You are not happy. The suffering gets more and more every day. You don’t want to go on like this. You don’t have to go on like this. You don’t have to settle. You deserve to live a life without being a prisoner to food. You deserve a healthier relationship with your body. You deserve to enjoy life. You deserve to get better. You deserve better.
Tune into that voice telling you to get help.