I’m collaborating with some other writers in a blog series for the entire month of February. The theme is simple enough: reasons to recover. Special shout-out to Anne-Sophie over at Fighting Anorexia for starting the conversation that turned into this little project and for doing most of the organizing.
The next post in this series comes from Tracey Weldon, a UK-based blogger. It looks like we’ve picked up a theme: the deadly seriousness of eating disorders, and the potential for hope and happiness through recovery. Tracey writes:
It took me a really long time to accept that I had a problem – that I had eating disorders. Partly because that kinda goes with having a voice in your head telling you that the destructive behaviours are what is best. But mostly because for the bulk of the time I was sick I didnt ‘look’ like I had an eating disorder. I was an appropriate weight for my height and later – overweight. And because I didnt look sick I convinced myself I wasn’t. But some things cannot be hidden and living in torment can only be contained for so long. What I want you to know, whoever you are, however you eating disorder manifests is that eating disorders dont discriminate, and they often dont lead you to an emaciated frame.
…In the years I suffered from eating disorders before I chose to fight to recover I lost a lot to them. They cost me my teenage years, my dignity and friendships. They made a liar of me, a thief of me and landed me in thousands of pounds of debt. The most devastating thing I lost in my eating disorders – was my self. And I’m sure that reads very cliché, corny even, but it’s true. See, you don’t get to have a life and an eating disorder. Maybe you’re reading this reassuring yourself that this doesn’t apply to you and that you have both. You really don’t. Eating disorders mean dying and death – and even if that death isn’t a heart stopping one, it is still devastating.
You can read the full post here.
One of the hardest things when you first start seeking recovery is getting an objective view on where you are and what you need. When I was sick, I certainly didn’t think I was “sick enough” for almost any level of treatment, and that same mindset has been consistent with pretty much every person or friend I’ve known who has struggled, too. But since when is the patient the best person to be making those kinds of judgement calls? Not to mention, the effects of malnutrition on the body and brain are disruptive to emotional management and decision making processes. Therefore, a key step to recovery is not just getting help but appropriate and adequate help.
For some, it becomes a matter of pride. “I should be able to do this on my own!”, we declare. If it were that easy, though, I bet a lot of us would have. As it stands, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health illness. The moment we start using words like “should” we are creating more barriers to do what is necessary.
No matter what we think we “should” be capable of, when we learn that we need additional help, that should never be a a source of shame. Admitting you have a problem and seeking help takes courage, and so I find it strengthening and empowering to acknowledge our own limitations.
Thanks for reading, and make sure to give Tracey some love on her page!