Question: Why is it so hard to get rid of an eating disorder?
My friend asked me this question the other day as I was explaining my idea to her about having a question/response section on the blog where readers can ask me any questions they want and I will respond to them and post them in the response question. ANYWAYS… here is my response to this very important question that is very hard for many people to understand.
To be completely honest, before I fell victim to my eating disorder and even entered recovery I wondered why it was so difficult to go through treatment for a mental illness such as an eating disorder. I have perceived in today’s society that there is such a stigma surrounding eating disorders and mental disorders in general. Eating disorders in particular are rarely talked about. I remember researching eating disorders when I was about to start recovery and I found a lot of pro-ana (pro anorexia) sites, a few quotes, and a bit of research. I know that our society is progressing and we are starting to be more open about mental disorders but to be completely honest, right now, the stigma surrounding eating disorders sucks. When people don’t talk about a particular topic, how is anyone ever supposed to learn and understand what the whole idea is about? I mean, I knew nothing about chemistry before I started talking about it in sophomore chemistry class. I then became educated, learned the rules and basics surrounding the subject of chemistry and to be honest the same can be done for eating disorders.
I swear I am getting around to answering the question, just bear with me. I am going to be completely honest, there are some moments when I don’t know why it is so hard to “get rid” of an eating disorder. It is not like an illness where someone can take a couple antibiotics or lay in bed for a couple days and they are all better. I have heard from too many people who think that this is the way it is. I go to treatment and as soon as I am eating the food, I am ok. I am all better if I am weight restored or I can all of the sudden eat a cupcake without having a panic attack. Nope, that’s not it. I so wish it were that way. I wish there was a magic medicine to get rid of the eating disorder, or a formula that worked for each and every person. An eating disorder is so much more than just an incapability to eat food. It is something that plagues its victim from waking to sleeping. It is a cover up for a much bigger and deeper problem. Some people deal with repercussions of sexual harassment, verbal abuse, emotional abuse etc. It is a way to cover up and cope with all of the underlying issues and that is one of the biggest reasons why it is so hard to recover. Once the eating disorder is gone, you are forced to deal with all of the problems that lead to the eating disorder in the first place. It is so incredibly painful to be losing something that was considered a “best friend”, and then have to gain weight, and then on top of all that, have to deal with the emotions and the painful past that might have contributed to all of this.
As detrimental as an eating disorder is to one’s health (physically and mentally), I have experienced my own personal inner struggle with recovering from my eating disorder. My eating disorder gave me everything that I could have ever asked for. It gave me the body I thought I wanted, it gave me what I thought was strength and confidence over others, and it took away any problem that could have confronted me because of the numbing pain that is brought. But, as I have learned through recovery, these were all false “gifts” that the eating disorder bestowed upon me. The eating disorder is the most manipulative, mean, cruel thing I have ever encountered in my life. I can’t even see it so I don’t know who to talk to when I am trying to fight it. An eating disorder plagues the mind. It makes it impossible to see what the body actually looks like. The distorted perceptions and ideas are so detrimental to the uprooting of the eating disorder.
There’s a quote saying, “You can miss something but not want it back” and that is exactly how I feel about my eating disorder. I know I really really don’t want my eating disorder back, but it is hard to actually KNOW that I don’t want my eating disorder back. It is so hard to get rid of an eating disorder because a lot of the times a victim doesn’t even want it gone. How are you supposed to get rid of something that you love or that you think you love? It’s really, really hard, but not impossible. It is day after day of saying no to the voice in your head. Meal after meal of just picking up the damn fork and putting food into your mouth. It is thought after thought racing through your mind telling you how worthless you are and not knowing how to stop them. They are there in a power struggle every step of the way until years later into recovery they finally give up and the person battling it keeps fighting on.