Food is your body’s fuel. Without fuel, your body wants to shut down. – Ken Hill.
Therapy. Psychology. Bulimia. Anorexia. Depression. Anxiety. These words often make people cringe with discomfort.
After writing about my own trauma and my own struggles with mental illness, I became someone who genuinely wanted to spread awareness about mental illness and be there for those who wanted and needed someone to talk to.
There’s this awful stigma that mental illness, therapy and eating disorders have and quite frankly, it angers me. If we wouldn’t tell someone with cancer to ‘get over it’, we definitely shouldn’t be saying that to someone struggling with mental illness.
Having said that, I thought that coming out and talking more about my own struggles would make a good post. I’d like to show my support not by talking about my recovery (because I haven’t yet recovered) but by coming out and saying ‘This is my experience and you’re not alone.” You can either like me or hate me. Luckily, my survival doesn’t depend on your approval.
It’s strange, isn’t it? How something so simple can become so complicated. I can be sitting across from my best friend at a restaurant and all I can think to myself is: “How do you do it? Eat.” I watch them eat and hope that one day, I can eat my favorite food and actually enjoy it.
Purging. Binge eating. Chewing and spitting. These are things that people who have eating disorders often struggle with. These are things I’ve been struggling with for over a year, now.
The truth is that every time I take a bite out of anything, my shame, self-hate, guilt and anger heighten. In my experience, eating disorders have a lot do with anxiety and lack of self-love. We’re either too thin, too fat or not good enough. Everyone struggles with eating disorders for different reasons, of course.
I’ve purged, chewed and spit in almost every restaurant I’ve ever been to, I’m not going to lie. The hardest thing about living with an eating disorder is that it physically hurts you, not only emotionally. It’s extremely painful to purge and really difficult to chew and spit, because all you want to do is swallow (don’t go there). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally swallowed the food and hated myself even more, as a result. Starving yourself is no fun. There are simply too many emotions involved to really understand the whole picture on your own.
Living with an eating disorder is hard. Hiding it from certain people in your life proves to be just as difficult.
I watched a movie on Netflix the other day. It’s called “To The Bone” and it’s about a girl who struggles with an eating disorder. I didn’t expect much from it, honestly, given that the media likes to falsely portray mental illness or romanticize it. I was pleasantly surprised, though. It was surprisingly relatable and spot on about a lot of the things I struggle with. Of course, when I read that the people who star in the film have actually struggled with eating disorders, I understood why.
By the way: Keanu Reeves kicks ass, as a doctor, but I’m not sure that the tough love would work on most people. But hey, I can only speak for myself.
Recovery, like life, isn’t supposed to be effortless. We have to work hard and look deep within our hearts to truly understand why we do the things that we do.
Let’s take a look at some Cartesian logic: it states that anything can be understood if we break it down to their component parts. We study each part and only then can we understand what the whole thing is doing. This is what recovery looks like. This is what therapy helps with. It’s never about playing it safe, it’s about taking risks and going where you’re afraid to go. It’s the only way you can get to where you want to be, but remember: if you don’t want to be saved, no therapist or doctor can save you.
In the beginning of this post, I spoke about the stigma around mental illness. I’d like to end off by saying that struggling with these things don’t make of you less lovable. It means that there’s just so much more about you to love, because it shows that you’re a fighter and survivor. In spite of everything that happened, eating (or not eating) is one more way you’re trying to maintain control of your life. We all know it’s not healthy, but it’s a work in progress.
I often say this: we can’t compare illnesses, but when we’re talking about any physical disability or illness, there’s often a direct method of recovery. Mental health and illness is often more complex because there is no direct treatment approach. They say that a healthy body keeps a healthy mind, but in a lot of ways, it’s the mind that really controls everything else. Be as fit as you want, but your body is only as strong as your will to live and be happy.
So, from one struggling person to another, it may not be easy, but you’re not alone! All we have in life are the choices we make and they are there’s always time to improve and get better. Don’t be hard on yourself and don’t rush. Slow and steady wins the race, no matter how badly you’re doing. Rushing is often one of the biggest mistakes we make.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination. What you struggle with doesn’t change who you are or how fantastic of a person you are.