Someone who has never experienced an eating disorder for themselves will never understand what it’s like. Do you agree? If they are a family member, they can have a certain degree of knowledge. But just as we can not fully understand how difficult and painful it is for them to watch someone they love, ultimately destroy themselves; they cannot understand the sheer terror and gut wrenching guilt that we feel most of the time.
And it is down to that terror and guilt that we automatically lie about what we’ve eaten and what we’re going to eat. We hate doing it, we know it’s wrong and we hate hurting our family. But we’ll justify our lies by saying that we’re protecting them. I guess it’s the old saying “What they don’t know won’t hurt them”.
I know the fear behind being honest with people about what we’re really doing, what rules and rituals we have to follow to keep us safe. And we don’t want anyone to take these away from us.
It’s like someone who has an OCD and washes their hands to keep them safe. The thought of not doing this, is incomprehensible. They are washing their hands, not because others see them as dirty, but because the person feels the need to stay in control and keep safe.
The person with OCD and the person with an eating disorder are similar in that unhealthy coping methods are being used. There is always a root cause, an event that we couldn’t cope with or control, negative beliefs that we learned about ourselves from childhood and other past issues that are still affecting us. Unless we address these issues, we will still feel the need to use our coping method, we will still have that fear and guilt and we will still automatically lie to keep ourselves safe.
But who are we lying to? Yes we are lying to others so that our methods aren’t taken away from us but we are also lying to ourselves regularly. Lies such as “Nobody needs to know, I can do this on my own”, “Everyone’s got their own issues, they don’t want to be helping me with mine”, “I’m just a burden”, “People are better off without me around”, “Things will never change”, “I’m such a failure”, “I’m not good enough”.
And the biggest one ….. “Everything will be better and I’ll be so much more happier if I keep restricting and I get to X stone/kgs”.
You see, that’s Ana talking. She’s telling you this, and you’re still believing her. She’s taken your soul, isolated you from everyone around you, and has convinced you that your family and friends are the enemy .. and you shouldn’t listen to them as they just want to make you eat and be fat. Ana’s manipulating you and she will not stop until she’s destroyed you.
According to B-eat, Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, from medical complications associated with the illness as well as suicide. 20% of anorexia sufferers will die prematurely from their illness. In all cases, anorexia severely affects the quality of life of the sufferer and any carers.
I know it’s terrifying but please reach out for help. You can not do this alone. You may think your lies are saving you, but you’re lying to yourself that Ana is going to save you. It took me a long time to work this out, but now I’m stronger, I can see this and I’m never going to trust her again.
I know you’re struggling and you’re not sure if or how you can get out. The fear is holding you back. The fear of letting Ana and your safety go. But I’m not lying to you when I say, she’s not keeping you safe. You don’t have to know how to get out, you just need to choose to want to. It’s not an easy decision to make and some people say it’s not as simple as just wanting it enough. It’s not simple at all. Because you have to make that same choice every moment of every day.
I said to a client the other day it’s like trying to climb Mount Everest several times per day, but with huge rocks and boulders being thrown at you as you try to climb, trying to stop you from achieving your goal. It’s so easy to give up and fall back. I know this. But once you get started, it does get easier.
Just make the choice that you want things to change. That’s a great place to start. Then create a plan with full support to help get you there. You can learn tools to help with your fear and guilt. You can work with qualified professionals to help you address the root causes of your eating disorder. If you don’t find the support you need straight away, keep looking. It may require investment of your money (and certainly your time), but it would be worth it! If you don’t think so, you’re lying to yourself again.
I’m going to tell you the truth now. I have been where you are. I know what it feels like. I know the pain, the torture, the fear, the guilt, the battle in your head. I didn’t think I’d make it out. But I chose to want to get out. I put my trust in others and not Ana, even when I was terrified. And I’ve surprised myself at how far I’ve got. I’m at the top of Everest and I’ll tell you now, the view is amazing and so worth it!
Originally published at medium.com