For National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2022, I've decided to write a blog post a day on eating disorder recovery. Today is day 1 of 7. We're going to talk about the relationship between food, fear, feeling good enough.
In recovery from anorexia (purging and orthorexia subtype), I discovered that food wasn't my enemy. Food wasn't the reason I wasn't sleeping at night, counting calories like sheep. Food wasn't the reason I was in the gym 5:30 a.m. or walking home from school or doing laps around the small town after dinner. Food wasn't the reason I hated my body.
I was operating on fear.
Fear of not being good enough for the older boyfriend who said we should lose 10 pounds.
Fear that even after losing weight I would still not be desirable.
Fear that my flesh would hold me back because thin girls win.
Fear that if I didn't lose the weight now I was destined to be the bigger girl.
Fear of summer. Arms. Legs. Thighs. Bathing suits. Beach days.
Fear of missing out on the "good life" reserved for beautiful girls.
Fear of not being attractive enough to secure a forward-facing job, despite all my other best efforts.
Fear of failure to live up to the current beauty standards.
Fear of not being good enough for my own life at the current weight.
So I went all in.
I lost 50 pounds.
But somehow the fear only grew stronger.
Now I was afraid of temptation.
Deep fried foods.
But I was also afraid of people. People equaled temptation. People asked questions. People gossiped.
I was afraid what they were saying was true.
I was afraid I had lost too much weight, went the other way, wasn't desirable.
I was afraid I was going to lose all my hair.
I was afraid I would never start menstruating again.
I was afraid I would never eat without ritual or panic or pain.
I was afraid what would happen when I put away the calculator and scale and size 0 pants.
I was afraid of gaining weight.
I was afraid of being average and unwanted and someone who'd forever struggle with their weight.
I was afraid of looking in the mirror.
Scared of my own shadow.
There is so much more to an eating disorder than a focus on food and body image. While it can seem like someone with anorexia has their food, body, and mind, under control, this isn't the full truth. Looks are deceiving!
I ask you to consider thinking about eating disorders in terms of attempting to regulate fear rather than increase control.
Yes, I was able to "control" what I ate, when I ate, and how much I purged, but it's not because I am so disciplined, it's because fear was always the guiding light. Fear brought me to knees and begged me for a different body to be free of the trauma and pain and confusion, but I misheard fear as fight.
I know the difference now.
I ask you to consider your own fears. Write them down. Push yourself to go deeper than "I'm afraid of being fat," because fat isn't a state of being. What is behind the word "fat" for you?
Starting these internal conversations is essential in beginning the process of changing thought patterns formed by fear.
Got a topic you'd like me to cover this week? Let me know! Comment or message and I'll do my best to get everyone's topics some airtime.
P.S. for anyone new here - hi! Welcome! I'm speaking from experience as an anorexia nervosa survivor (this is not medical advice).