What Having an Eating Disorder is Really Like

Eating Disorders are often misunderstood. Most people think that eating disorders are all about weight, appearance, and self obsession. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

While there is definitely a body image component most of my clients are the least self focused people I know. They are caretakers. Self sacrificers. High achievers. They can’t stand the idea of inconveniencing others or being a burden. So they suffer silently. It is easier to deny themselves nourishment or engage in harmful behaviors than it is to have a difficult conversation that might hurt a loved ones feelings.

What is it like to have an eating disorder (ED)? Well, it is different for everybody but I wanted to share with you my experience.

ED is feeling so anxious and frightened that food feels like the easiest thing to obsess about.

ED is being so addled by obsessions and compulsions that you can’t do anything that you truly want to do.

ED is having a list of rules that you must follow. Or else.

ED is like waking up every day with a dictator screaming at you that you are fat, worthless, and the only way to redeem yourself is to eat perfectly, look perfect, and exercise perfectly.

ED is the fear that creeps up that if you can’t get all the rules right then everyone will know the truth about you.

ED is oppressing and dark. Hopeless.

ED is blinding you from ever seeing recovery as a possibility.

ED is sneaky and tries to convince you that dieting is different than an Eating Disorder.

ED is scanning a room and comparing yourself to everyone, only to constantly discover you don’t measure up.

ED is being inundated with thoughts that everyone would be better off without you.

ED is constantly obsessing and thinking about food, to the point where you go out to eat with friends and you can’t remember a word that was said but you can remember what everyone ate.

ED is spending hours counting and weighing and measuring and adding.

ED is shame. Relentless shame.

ED is a constant voice yelling in your ear how terrible you are.

ED is pain beyond what you can possibly ever imagine.

ED is eating a piece of birthday cake on your birthday and telling yourself how horrible of a failure you are the rest of the day.

ED is waking up every morning and vowing to “do better.”

ED is feeling so weak and hungry you can’t even think or function. You read the same page of a book four times and still can’t make sense of it.

ED is completely zoning out of every conversation.

ED is “finally giving in” and then punishing yourself for days.

ED is running and exercising to the point of painful injury.

ED is something that you don’t ever choose. ED is something that chooses you. ED makes you think that you have no other choice.

ED is looking around and wondering how other people could possibly be so happy.

Ed is hell. Hell on earth. 

This is what everyday is like until you choose recovery. I don’t want to leave you with only the disorder…because recovery is so very possible. So let me paint you a picture of what recovery looks like.

Recovery is waking up every morning and choosing the hardest thing.

Recovery is building up a voice from within yourself that can overpower the eating disorder dictator.

Recovery is the hardest thing you will ever do because that dictator has been running the show far to long, his voice seems so normal and familiar, and sometimes the people around you that you love sound just like him.

Recovery is freedom.

Recovery is finally taking a bite of that cake and feeling permission to enjoy it.

Recovery is swimming at the pool with your kids without the hateful voice in your head saying “all the other moms are better than you.”

Recovery is honest and late night conversations with your loved ones about struggles, relapses, and your needs.

Recovery is placing healthy boundaries and eliminating recovery sabotaging people.

Recovery is a free space where you don’t have to constantly obsess about your body, weight, or shape.

Recovery is doing the hard work and figuring out what you were really needing.

Recovery is finding workable ways of getting what you need.

Recovery is a choice you make every single day.

Recovery is walking into a room and seeing the faces of your friends and getting excited about spending time with them.

Recovery is the most beautiful, difficult, complicated, painful road you will ever walk down.

Recovery is 100% worth it.

Recovery is 100% possible. I have lived it and I hope you can too!

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