An eating disorder is a mind game. It’s amazing how strong you can be and yet so weak at the same time. The logical part of a person knows right from wrong. Knows what is good and bad and certainly knows that eating is a part of life. It helps you live. It should be enjoyed. It’s awful that one of the most important things in your daily routine gets hijacked.
I know better. I’m smart. Intelligent. I know that food should be eaten. I know it helps you survive. I know that it’s something that should be enjoyed with friends and family. Not feared. I know that taking laxatives in huge quantities will kill me one day. My body will only fight so long.
But mental illness is exactly that. And I hate to say it. I hate to say that I have a mental illness. I have an eating disorder. Ewww, gross. That’s not Lisa. Lisa is strong, determined, motivated, dynamic, personable, and capable. It’s not Lisa who has the mental illness – it’s the Eating Disorder.
Every day, we are surrounded by different messages from different sources that impact the way we feel about the way we look. For some, poor body image is a sign of a serious problem: an eating disorder. Eating disorders are not just about food. They are often a way to cope with difficult problems or regain a sense of control. They are complicated illnesses that affect a person’s sense of identity, worth, and self-esteem.
The way the eating disorder plays with your mind is like this:
Alright, you piece of shit eating disorder, I already know you have one-up on me. “Go to hell”, I whisper to myself. Not a moment later, “Actually, don’t. I need you.” I knew then that my eating disorder had become a coping mechanism for dealing with intense emotions and stress.
I have used it as a “way out”. When I don’t want to deal with something. When I want time out to myself. When I need to be alone. And that’s quite alright to want. But not the way I have been doing it.
Why not just ask for that time? Why not just voice how I feel? “I need to step away and have some time to myself.” I can do that. I have more support than I could ever need and know that I would be able to rely on anyone to give me some alone time. And how pathetic. I abuse my body and mind for what? Because I’m having a tough time dealing with something? Instead of facing it head on and taking care of what is in front of me, I run away from it. Guess what? It will be there when I get back.
One lesson I have taught my kids is to stand up for yourself. Take a stance for what you believe it. Be strong and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about yourself. Yet, here I am – doing the complete opposite. Not practicing what I preach. What a terrible, terrible role model.
That is one of the steps to recovery I have taken. I don’t run away. I don’t look for a time out. I ask for it. I deal with the stress, the emotions or whatever scares me. I cannot use myself as a punching bag. I certainly don’t deserve it.
Many of the videos and literature I have read, discuss how Eating Disorder sufferers feel so awful about themselves. How they have such little support and nobody to lean on. I have always said, I am quite the opposite. I am surrounded by love, encouragement and friendship. I have all of the ingredients I need to be successful and to overcome this.
And I am. Slowly. Day by day. Step by step.
I see how my days improve. I see how my kids adore me. They absolutely adore me. They trip over themselves to say good-bye to be in the morning and give me a kiss when I get home from work. They can’t wait to show me their assignments, their homework, new card tricks they have learned or to share funny stories about their day. They want to involve me in everything they do. I know as time goes on this may not last so I cherish these moments and remind myself that by letting ED take a time out – it’s taking time away from what’s important. What matters. What I live for.