neda week – how i overcame my eating disorder
Because this is National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) week and because I have many new readers who may or may not know about my past, I thought I’d share a post I wrote nearly two years ago. Since the post ran, I’ve changed SO very much. ….But I still have a ways to go.
My hope is that someone out there reading today, someone who’s struggling with negative body image, will WAKE up and see that living with an eating disorder is not living at all. And I want to open my door (my email) to anyone who needs to talk!
Dear Eating Disorder,
I hate you.
So, so much.
I hate what you’ve done to my mind.
How I can’t seem to ever escape your pull, your toxic lure.
I hate what you’ve done to my body.
Making it weaker than it needs to be.
I hate how you always seem to beat down my spirit.
Introducing self-doubt, depression and negativity.
I hate that I’ve wasted SO many years listening to your lies.
I hate how you’ve damaged good relationships with friends and family.
I hate that sometimes you have control. And I’m left helpless.
No effing more!
Eating Disorder, I’m breaking up with you.
Breaking free of the putrid stench you leave on my life.
Breaking free from the darkness.
I choose to run into the light. The marvelous light.
ED, you suck.
Plain and simple.
And I’m tired of courting you.
With all my heart,
Yesterday, for the first time in quite a while (6-8 months?), I felt the desire to purge. Like I left my kids to watch their movie, walked into the bathroom and stood over the toilet.
I didn’t allow myself the relief that purging would have brought.
I chose to stop. To walk away.
Something that took all my willpower.
I’ve never closeted my history with an ED, but I’m not always as open about it as you might like.
The truth is – I still struggle with it.
The negative thoughts, the contemplation of restriction or binge/purging.
It’s there. My ED is still there.
I would never let myself eat this entire burger. Maybe 1/3.
It pains me to say that. But it’s the truth.
And by speaking it and admitting it, I can bring light to it.
I had a reader email me recently, sharing her own struggles with bulimia. (This is SO common, guys! More than I ever thought possible. I get emails ALL THE TIME!)
I told her about my struggles and gave her some coping advice.
You see, the difference between yesterday and say, 8 years ago, is that I now know how to take control of my thoughts. How to capture them and mold them into something different – and THAT is where recovery starts.
Here is what has worked FOR ME over the past 8 years in dealing with disordered eating and poor body image.
HOW TO OVERCOME AN EATING DISORDER/DISORDERED EATING:
1. TALK ABOUT IT!
Tell someone. A friend. A family member. A counselor. Your husband.
The thing is - they probably know already. And if they don’t, they won’t be as judgmental as you think. I promise.
Reach out! People want to help. That’s the way we’re designed.
2. SPEAK YOUR ACTIONS!
This one has helped me tremendously. As you’re thinking these negative thoughts or going through the actions of binging and purging, SPEAK YOUR ACTIONS. What I mean is, say out loud, “I’m going to the bathroom now to make myself throw up.” “I’m sticking my finger down my throat.” “I’m fake eating so that I can control my calories.”
When you assign WORDS to your ACTIONS, it gives your mind a chance to catch up with your body. Then you take back control over the situation.
3. TAKE OWNERSHIP!
An ED is so very active. Never passive. You actively choose to starve yourself. You actively choose to make yourself throw up.
YOU do this. Nobody else. No one’s forcing you to act this way. Take ownership.
Then relinquish that ownership and stop doing what you’re doing.
4. KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS!
Become aware of what triggers your ED. It might be a person, reading food blogs or fitness magazines, or certain foods. For instance, what set me off yesterday was a simple spoonful of Cookies and Cream ice cream. (Ice cream was something I’d binge on in the past (then purge), so I know that I need to be careful around it.) I also avoid a couple of healthy living blogs because they make me feel bad about myself. Over time, I’ve found out what sets me off.
KNOW WHAT TRIGGERS THOSE NEGATIVE BODY IMAGE THOUGHTS.
Then avoid them.
5. HAND IT OVER!
One of my favorite scriptures sums this point up….
Romans 12: 1-21 – “…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do NOT be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
– “Present your bodies” – a strong and healthy body, not a sickly body that you’ve abused.
– “Do not be conformed to this world” – meaning don’t succumb to peer pressure to look a certain way or eat certain foods. This “world” places far too great a value on the superficial.
– “What is GOOD and ACCEPTABLE and PERFECT” – An eating disorder is absolutely NONE of these things.
Hand over this burden to God. To prayer. To listening to the Holy Spirit (what some might call your conscience).
These are just a scant few of the ways to approach recovery – and every person is different. The main point I want to hit home….
Recovery is a journey, not a destination.
A journey that makes us WAY stronger. Able to change our minds. Able to encourage others.
A journey that simply must be taken.
Dear Eating Disorder,
This post felt good to write.
This post was a slap in your face.
Until next time…said no one ever.
I’m over you.
QUESTION: Poor body image – thoughts/solutions/something I didn’t cover? If you were to write a “breakup” letter to something, what would it be?
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