Fear about food is a wall of nothing through which you can pass.
If you have an eating disorder, you may have been told that this illness is ‘not about the food’. Which is true in a way – because it is about much more than food. Even when you are eating three meals and three snacks a day, and weight is restored, this does not necessarily mean you are ‘well’. Recovery takes time. But throughout recovery and beyond, food retains a central focus: it is the stick with which the illness beats us and yet we need to eat it. The habits, rituals and feeling that starving or bingeing can provide give temporary and tenuous relief from the anxiety. Turning away from these comforters and resuming normal eating patterns involves not only the breaking of these habits from a practical level, but also coping without the perceived security they provide on an emotional level.
Finding a new way of coping with feelings can be scary. It helps to remember that eating disorder (Ed) behaviours appease your Ed voice temporarily but strengthen it over time, and will cause you to get more sick, and more tormented. On the other hand, healthy behaviours may cause your Ed voice to flare up initially and torment you dreadfully, but over time, that manipulative and bullying voice will be pacified and silenced. Ed does all it can to make recovery hard work: it gets more aggressive during the refeeding phase and kicks up while you strive to adjust to healthy eating habits and healthy body weight. Being aware of this puts you one step ahead.
The goal in early recovery is to live with the Ed voice but not act on it. This is a tough assignment and guidance from your support team is crucial to help you to withstand Ed’s powerful pull. Ignore the pull, and the Ed voice will dissipate over time. Your best defence is a steady combination of good nutrition, good therapy and excellent self-care. In other words, pamper yourself. You deserve it. Full recovery is achieved and the battle won when Ed’s voice is silent.
Depending on what stage you are at in recovery, you may have difficulty believing that Ed’s voice can actually be silent. Yes, it can. You can regain your beautiful true self – even if you have suffered the illness for many years. Of course, it is much easier to break free of Ed as early as possible. The longer you have the illness, the more chance it has to get engrained in your mind and sabotage your life. Remember that you can’t get rid of this bully voice alone – so reach out for help from those you trust. Recovery takes time. Be patient, be determined, don’t give up. When feeling anxious, even a teeny bit, allow those you trust to make decisions for you; allow them to confront Ed on your behalf until you are strong enough to do so yourself.
‘Finally, senior year came around and college applications started. School was boring and my eating disorder was now threatening to hold me back from going to college. I decided, no way! No way was I going to let this thing keep me from my entire future. So I actually made an effort. Whereas before it had honestly been more important to me to look good than to be healthy, now I NEEDED, with every fibre of my being, to be healthy so my parents would allow me to go to college. I gradually became more stable and by spring was holding my weight steady. I gradually began to eat off the meal plan that I had been on for four years. At first it made me extremely anxious to do so, but after a while it was almost natural. I could eat – just like everyone else:-).’
– Young adult woman
Extract from Ed says U said.