I was forced into seeing a therapist and dietician when I was first diagnosed with anorexia, all the way back in October of 2012. Firstly, I was in denial that I even had an eating disorder because I was “far too normal looking to have one.” When it did finally dawn on me that I’m not really acting normal, I became obsessed with living up to my diagnosis. At every trip to my dietician, I would load up on water and wear heavy jewelry and clothes, and I’d still lose weight. I wasn’t convinced I was sick enough for years, and my weight would go up a little and down a little over a few months, but I was never committed to my own health. Every time I was threatened with inpatient, I’d scream insults and say that they would ruin my education (the second thing most important to me at the time). The truth is, I wouldn’t ruin my education , but if something wasn’t done, I’d ruin my life forever.
However, I am only able to realize this looking back.
I couldn’t imagine a life without my eating disorder, a life where I was heavier and happier too. What a bunch of lies, I thought. My anorexia especially distorted reality and I grew fond of the feeling of superiority I felt when eating smaller meals than all my friends, even though they never really spoke up about how I wasn’t eating enough. I didn’t even think I deserved recovery, because I caused so much stress on my parents and team. I wanted to want to recover, but I just couldn’t snap out of it.
My therapist used to constantly ask me how I felt about recovery and concluded I was ambivalent about the whole process. I didn’t even feel ambivalent, I didn’t feel torn between the choice of recovery or sickness. I felt like I was floating, too weightless to anchor myself to any solid decisions. I was hopeless and opposed to the idea of being what I felt to be just another normal person in this bland, sad world.
I know what you’re thinking: this doesn’t sound at all like the Anna that writes this blog today. And I wasn’t. I was the shell of an Anna, my body was in crisis mode, and my mind wasn’t telling me anything other than “You’re not sick enough.”
I’m not sure exactly what has switched in the past year. It was kind of a miracle, the way everything fell into place. I was forced into a Maudsley meal plan or else I would indefinitely go inpatient, I switched my therapist and dietician, I became weight restored (making my thought more clear and less disordered), started taking medication, made my Instagram account, made friends again… It was a domino affect. I developed bulimia along the way, I’ve had a few slip-ups, but overall, I’ve made incredible progress and my mindset and confidence has changed in a way I never thought imaginable. (see my story for more details)
My current therapist once told me the story of the wall of possibility. She had an empty wall in her living room, but she didn’t know what do to with it. She could leave the wall (your life) as it is (stay in your disorder) or she could actually put in a lot of work (recovery) and make it into the wall she always dreamed of (rediscovering yourself). I really like this metaphor because I could relate to it a lot: I didn’t feel like putting in the work because I thought my “wall” was fine as it was. But you’re going to feel a lot better when you get your wall to look great, better than you ever imagined. Okay, so switching back to my other metaphor about dominos… If you are overwhelmed by the entire recovery process, if you want to want to recover but don’t know where to start, I suggest looking for the very first domino. It’s often accepting that you have a problem and telling someone. For me, this lead to getting help, lead to me being restored to physical health, then focusing on the mental part. You’ve just got to take it one step at a time. Recovery isn’t easy, and you’ve heard this time and time again, but it’s going to be worth it in the end. ❤