Did you know? This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week.
Last year around this time, I was finally brave enough to share my story:
Which sparked more posts like it:
Today I am sharing what I believe truly propelled me into full recovery.
Like many people who live with eating disorders, I lived in pseudo-recovery for years. I kept a seemingly normal and happy life while also hanging onto my disordered mind. I ate enough… I maintained a healthy weight… I had my period consistently… but still, I clung to the identity given to my by anorexia.
What I was doing reminds me of a old 38 Special song- “Just hold on loosely, but don’t let go. If you cling too tightly, you’re gonna lose control.” I knew that I couldn’t live the way I did when I was clinging for my life to my eating disorder… but maybe I could just hold it loosely, enough so that it would keep me in check.
For so long I thought I could have both, just a little touch of my eating disorder mindset and the rest of life was mine. Eating disorders become an identity to its victims. They take-over. An affected person begins to believe that they need it to be any good. To succeed. To not become lazy. To be worthy.
Full recovery means fully giving up this identity.
Disordered eating is not uncommon. I see it in people around me everyday. Some feel like they must be a certain weight or that they must burn off everything they eat or that skipping a meal is beneficial. So many individuals live on the edge. Just a “little” disordered, little enough that no one would notice (sometimes even the person), but big enough so that they can stay “in control.” Yet, what many people don’t realize is that keeping just a toe in the water will still poison their whole body.
I realized I had to make a choice: either life or my eating disorder.
Having both meant one would win. See, even when I had victories, when my true self won out over my eating disorder, the win never felt good. It never came without hours of overthinking to prepare myself to face it or without hours of guilt following it. Keeping it just a “little” meant that all areas of my life were impacted, not just the areas I wanted it to. I couldn’t just be thin or just have perfect grades or just be a disciplined exerciser.
Keeping it just a little meant that social experiences suffered due to anxiety around food. It meant not being able to be spontaneous when friends suddenly made plans. It meant not being fully present at a church service or a family gathering. It meant being singled out as the only one not partaking. It meant not being able to enjoy a surprise birthday treat.
There was no “co-existing”. Eating disorders don’t play nice.
What pushed me to full recovery two and half years ago was in essence an ultimatum: a life lived fully or a life in bondage. I chose a full life and I will choose it again. Everyday.
If that’s you, living on the edge of an eating disorder, I’m telling you to jump. You’ve seen the light, so run to it. Break food rules. Eat a cheeseburger or brownie and then forget about. Hang out with friends rather than going to the gym. Eat a large enough breakfast that you aren’t thinking about food during class. Sleep in and enjoy it. Find true freedom in Christ. Bake something spontaneous just because it sounds good. Look up, look down, look around- look anywhere outside of your head even if just for a moment. Live. Breathe. Repeat.
If you’ve never struggled with an eating disorder, I encourage you to use this week to educate yourself. If you love someone with an eating disorder I encourage you to help them by showing them a full life.