The difference between my eating disorder and me, Shae…
One of the most important things to learn throughout recovery is that you are not your eating disorder. It is something that I repeated to myself day after day to remind myself that I have a life outside of the hell that my ED gave me. I had dreams and aspirations that extended beyond just my weight and clothing size and I wanted a life with a full heart and wide smiles, rather than empty stomachs and tear stains. So, here is my comprehensive list of what my eating disorder wanted (past tense J) for me (well, for itself actually) vs what I want for myself.
Eating disorder: weigh x amount, fit into x size, eat x amount of calories, see ribs, eat nothing, not be able to grab any fat, and have total control
Me: go to university (check), marry the man I love, go to medical school, become a doctor, write a book, travel the world, be a good sister and loving daughter, care for others, and most importantly, care for myself.
Eating disorder: no gluten (excuse for no carbs), no lactose – especially cheese and it CANNOT be melted, no nuts (except for raw only), no soda, black coffee only, no sugar, no additives, no meet, no beans, no mayo, no condiments, no oils, no food made by other people (But also you can’t eat what you cook), no eating until 10 am and not eating after 6 pm, x amount of chews/bite, must cut food into x amount of pieces, must eat for a certain amount of time, only eat what is planned for the day and calorically acceptable… ok I feel like you get the point
Me: hi, yah, I don’t really like olives but if they’re on a pizza I can deal with it. Beets aren’t my thing but yah I eat EVERYTHING!
Eating disorder: talk to no one, don’t be the one to reach out, find excuses not to ever see people
Me: EXTROVERT! LOVE TO TALK! Reach out to people, ask to hangout, actually leave the house, go to restaurants, be social!
Eating disorder: must get straight As, hours to complete assignment so it is PERFECT (Every letter, every number, every line is in its place), no wrong answers (therefore don’t participate in class), don’t ask questions (without an apology for inconveniencing the teacher), asking for help is a sign of weakness, take the hardest classes and still get the best grades
Me: try your hardest but don’t kill yourself in the process, ask questions, ask for help, know that perfection isn’t a reality so just work hard!
Eating disorder: make sure they’re skinny by removing unhealthy foods from house, making sure they eat less, make sure they exercise, control them (in everything – yes, it’s pathetic)
Me: let them live their own lives because they’ve been doing it for a while so they probably can take care of themselves (seems reasonable)
These are just a few of the things (the main things that I have learned through treatment) and as you can see, it is definitely way more tiring/time consuming to have an eating disorder. It is a constant worry about what other people think or how I am presented to the outside world that it becomes neglect of internal feelings. This type of list can be helpful to anything: anxiety, depression, self-harm etc. I have used it in all facets of life. So with that, I am learning that I am most definitely NOT my eating disorder because I have my own thoughts, ideas, aspirations, and dreams for who I am and who I will become!