5 Lessons I’ve Learned from my Battle with an Eating Disorder
By Kylee Schmuck
Eating disorders are notorious liars, gaslighters. They convince you of anything and everything they can just to keep you sick, keep you in their grasp and under their control. Your eating disorder needs you sick to survive, don’t let it trick you into staying sick and miserable. Here are five lessons I learned when working to uncover the lies of my disorder and kick it out.
Lesson 1: No matter what the scale says, you won’t be satisfied with the number when living in your eating disorder.
Eating disorders lie. They thrive in darkness where no one knows the truth and lure in victims with false promises of confidence and success. The disorder gives you a goal, gives you control and something to work towards. You think, ‘once I get to X pounds I’ll be happy’. You won’t ever be happy. You reach that goal weight and the disorder tricks you into going further and further down the rabbit hole. There is no weight that the disorder will be satisfied with. The number will go down and down, until it takes your life. There is no success to be found within an eating disorder unless success is sickness.
Eating disorders aren’t pretty, they aren’t glamorous. They’re ugly and disgusting and rot away the souls of too many beautiful souls.
Lesson 2: You will never be ‘sick enough’ by your disordered standards
Another lie eating disorders commonly tell is that you aren’t sick enough to receive treatment. Eating disorders will try and convince you that ‘you don’t look sick’ or ‘well I don’t look like x’ or some other version of these statements. There is no such thing as ‘sick enough’. Your disorder will only convince you that you need to be the worst possible case, impossible of course, to receive treatment or receive help. That isn’t the case. You do not need to reach a certain level of suffering to deserve help and support; if you are struggling and want help, you deserve help.
Lesson 3: Recovery isn’t linear
When entering recovery we often carry over a lot of the habits, mindsets, and tendencies that helped foster our disorder. One such carry over is perfectionism. Perfectionist tendencies may lead you to believe that once you choose recovery or enter treatment, etc. that it is going to be linear. You have this view of recovery as this perfect, straight shot, without struggles or setbacks or relapses. Unfortunately, recovery is anything but linear or perfect. Recovery means accepting that things are going to be messy, you’re going to have hard days and setbacks, and accepting that relapses can happen. Recovery may not be linear, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.
Lesson 4: Vulnerability is important
Eating disorders thrive in darkness and secrecy. Vulnerability and openness do not mix with an eating disorder. When I began the process of recovery I realized just how important vulnerability is. Staying shut down keeps us isolated, closed off, unavailable to those around us; this is precisely what our eating disorders want. Learning to open up and be vulnerable with those around us not only brings us closer to those in our lives, but brings us closer to recovery. Recovery is not possible without vulnerability and honesty; it’s hard, but it’s vital.
Lesson 5: Rip off the band-aid
My therapist coined a phrase for me to help me overcome some of my biggest fears, “Just rip off the band-aid”. So often the experience of facing a fear is worsened by dragging it out; the anticipatory anxiety only heightens the fear and prolongs the experience. It might seem odd at first, but learning to ‘rip off the band-aid’ and just do it, was an extremely important lesson I learned in my recovery. You can’t wait till you’re 100% ready, you never will be. Sometimes you just have to jump in headfirst and do the things you’re most afraid of. It will be hard, terrifying, often even excruciating, but it is necessary. You will wait forever if you wait for the ‘perfect time’ to do it; don’t wait until it’s too late.
Do not believe the lies that your eating disorder tells you. They may sound convincing, enticing, safer, but they’re not. Work to uncover the truth and learn the lessons of recovery.
About the Author:
Kylee lives in Seattle and is a true Pacific Northwest girl at heart; working at a tech recruiting firm and in her free time enjoying hiking, yoga, running and exploring the plentiful local coffee shops around the city. Her writing encompasses her mental health struggles with an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression, as well as her physical disability and chronic pain. You can find her work on her own blog, Coffee and Reflections, as well as on sites like The Mighty and MCXV. Follower Kylee on Twitter and Instagram.