Eating disorders are different from other illnesses in the sense that recovery is often feared and sometimes not wanted at all. Most people who catch a cold want it to go away, most people wish for their asthma attack to be over or their Crohn’s disease to improve. Most people want their depression to improve and their anxiety to go away but eating disorders seem to grip onto a person in a different way and leave the person in a position where they feel they can’t let go of the illness.
Why would anyone want to be ill? It’s a question I often ask myself. I wouldn’t want anyone to have this illness and to deal with the horrors and terrors that come along with it and yet I find myself stuck in the illness year after year not getting better and tricking myself into thinking I am. Even I struggle to get my head around why I cling onto this illness and keep it in my life. Why on earth don’t I want to be a healthy and happy human being?
I think it’s a part of the illness, that it throws a million and one reasons at you why you can’t get better. It twists and manipulates everything to convince you that you are the best version of you with an eating disorder. This isn’t true of course.
Anorexia convinces me that if I eat a ‘normal’ amount then I will gain and gain weight because that’s what my metabolism is like, this isn’t true. It convinces me that whilst others look beautiful at a BMI 20, I look disgusting and grotesque. This isn’t true either. My body is the same as most human beings bodies.
Aside from that anorexia will convince me that I achieve better and work harder as ‘an anorexic’ because I’m not lazy and am constantly wanting distraction but the reality of this is that I would work far better if I could concentrate and have energy.
For me, part of the fear is because I’ve been unwell since childhood. I don’t know what life without an eating disorder is like and I don’t know what my natural, healthy weight looks like. I have never allowed myself to be a woman because I’ve forced my body to stay child-like. I worry about what others will think, what if extended family comment on my healthier, bigger body? And what will they say when I join in with the takeaway? All these worries are fed to me by anorexia, the reality of the situation is that everyone around me would probably be thrilled that I’m no longer unwell and that I’m able to do things and live a normal life.
I think fearing recovery from an eating disorder is normal, but try to rationalise the reasons and fears that your eating disorder feeds you. Eating disorders can feel like a never ending labyrinth, a trap, but there is a way out. Eating disorders can be beaten.
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