I find that living with an eating disorder is like having a cruel, critical voice living inside you. The voice is constantly making comments about how you look and what you eat or don’t eat. I find that I am always in conflict with this voice, because even though I know that what it is telling me is harmful, it is very persuasive. It tells me not to eat breakfast. It tells me to not eat bread or pasta – ever. It tells me I won’t be attractive to men if I have fat legs or a soft stomach. This voice starts talking to me the moment I wake up and then continues to make comments to me all day long.
My eating disorder looks for ways that it can keep me held hostage. When I discovered the ADD drug, Adderall, I thought that I had found a solution to suppressing my appetite. When I took the drug I felt I had endless energy without needing to eat at all. I quickly lost a lot of weight, and I felt euphoric; however, I became out of control and totally detached from reality. To combat the anxiety that came along with Adderall, I drank alcohol and took sedatives. I would be busy all day, but I wouldn’t really accomplish anything. My behavior at my job was completely unreliable. I eventually got fired, and I ended up in treatment again.
Recently, I went to a department store to buy some new jeans. I picked out a few pair to try on in the dressing room. As I looked in the mirror I felt disgusted. What I saw staring back at me was a fat person. The eating disorder voice inside me told me to leave the store and start starving myself. It told me I had gotten out of control and lacked the discipline to restrict food. But because I have been learning about body dismorphia, I told the voice to shut up. I was able to buy the jeans that fit me and leave the store.
What I am trying to do now is challenge this voice by recognizing it. When I hear the eating disorder start talking I confront it by reminding myself that I need to eat in order to be healthy, that eating regular meals is normal. I have to recall what damage my eating disorder has done to my life so that I don’t revert back to old behaviors.
It’s not peaceful to live this way. It’s not fun for the central thought in my mind to be concerned with what I look like to other people. My eating disorder blocks out all other thoughts and keeps me separated from my family and friends because I can never truly connect with anyone. There is some invisible barrier between the world and myself. The eating disorder wants to keep me entirely in its control so that I have no room for anyone else to be in my life. And this is not okay with me anymore. So a day at a time I am beginning to quiet the negative voice and give myself the opportunity to get out of the endless cycle of rigid control and self-criticism. I am a beautiful work in progress!