Thought Catalog
May 19, 2017

The Reality Of Healing And The Physical Pain One Endures Overcoming An Eating Disorder

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What is the issue?
Melanie Wasser

An eating disorder lies.

It is a manipulative, cunning, deceitful, confusing, paradoxical disease. When you begin to decline, your brain tells you that you are doing better, you are succeeding. When you run more, or eat less, or have a dozen donuts instead of two, or end up on your knees in the bathroom one time more than the prior day your body tells you that you are depleted and exhausted but your brain tells you that you are determined and strong and have so much will power.

When you finally come to the realization that what you have been doing really does go against natural human design and attempt to get better, you suddenly feel wrong. Eating feels foreign. Sitting still makes your skin crawl. Not running to the bathroom after a complete meal leaves you in unimaginable pain. The actual physical healing process feels unnatural to you because, after all, you’ve trained yourself to think that what you’ve been doing for the last 6 months or 6 years or 16 years was “normal.”

An eating disorder lies. It will never allow you to see the truth. When you see your reflection in the windows at the mall they will never reflect back an accurate image. It can distort reality so that one day you find yourself so paranoid about pesticides and hormones that you eliminate everything except organic apples from your diet.

The only thing an eating disorder can promise is that cohabitation will result in a miserable life stuck in a negative feedback loop that only you can break free from. And breaking free will be the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do.

Harder than graduating college or landing a career or buying your first car or house, or deciding to leave your parents and move out of state. It will require endless hours of no sleep agony and tears, not to mention the countless months spent in therapy and hospitals and treatment centers trying to get the help you need to get your life back.

You will doubt your ability to do so, and you will possibly give up because the fear that you will fail becomes overwhelming. Yet you get back up and try again. Determination kicks in and you start to make it work. You begin to see the changes in your life and for once, you really feel like you have broken the bond between you and the eating disorder. You are cautious not to get too confident because eating disordered thinking and urges tend to stick around for a while. It is possible to be vulnerable in certain situations for quite some time.

It isn’t until you hit your first bump that you realize how close the eating disorder has been, waiting for you to lose your footing. It takes its opportunity to slip in and whisper in your ear. It is quiet at first. Just a tiny lie…something about how life would be easier if you just did x,y, or z. When you resist, the whisper becomes a firm voice, and then a yell until finally, the eating disorder voice is screaming in your head.

The hardest place to be in recovery is when the voice is so incredibly loud in your head and you want more than anything else to just give in, but you keep putting your fork to your mouth and taking just one more bite.

You look well on the outside but are experiencing mental hell on the inside. If you just keep saying no and pushing through, you do end up making it to the other side. It is possible if you just have the courage to keep pressing on.

I’ve been there. I’ve come through the storm, battled those demons, had some great recovery, and am dealing with some whispers to yells in my head these days. However, I am doing my very best to keep going the course and trying to stay courageous because I can say one thing with much, much certainty.
I REFUSE TO BE JUST ANOTHER STATISTIC.
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