Free to be ME, not ED!
At times when I was very ill, I made every effort to avoid food. It was normal to throw it out or lie to my friends and family about having eaten, However this was against my personal values. I would have never imagined that I would throw food out when there were people in the world who couldn’t find food to eat. I never thought I would lie to my loved ones! Yet, here I was, doing these things. Why? What was happening to me?
All good rules went out the door with ED. However, when I was ill, I didn’t see this. Sure, I knew that what I was doing was ‘wrong’, but I never looked at it that way. Deep down inside, I hated myself for going against my values. But I couldn’t NOT avoid food. Because I felt that I would gain weight. and that everyone would make fun of me all over again. That’s why this all began.
When my family wanted to help me eat, things didn’t go well. I yelled and panicked. I didn’t know why I was acting that way – all I knew was that when food was brought into the picture, all rules went out the window. Regardless, when my family told me that they loved me and that they knew that this was ED acting out, I screamed that it was ME. It wasn’t the disorder, it was me. I was the mean, rude girl who refused to eat. But I was wrong.
I became so entrenched in the ED that I lost all sense of who I was. I confused the symptoms of ED with myself. I lost my identity in obeying the illness. Deep down, I wished that I could eat. I wanted to be healthy again. I was frustrated with being tired. I was scared that I would die each day, or at night in my sleep – if I slept at all. Yet, I couldn’t ask for help. ED wouldn’t even let me take a small bite of food or drink any water. I didn’t know what was what anymore. What was the ED and what was really Marina? The easiest answer was to say that it was all me. I blamed myself for being a rude, unruly girl who refused to eat.
However, it actually was the ED. It can sometimes feel like ED wants to kill it sufferers. Patients with ED want to eat. They want to get better and be healthy, but the ED will not allow them. ED convinced me that I wanted to die of starvation. ED made me believe that I didn’t want to eat because I wasn’t hungry, and that I would rather be skinny and sickly than be healthy at a natural weight. It wasn’t until I focused on recovery that I could see this. It was only until I decided to recover – at any cost – that I realized that ED was controlling me. Marina – the real me – wanted to live. I wanted a future. I was hungry – for food, for safety, and for a happy future. With persistence, I got all of these, but I had to be the one to take the first step. I had to realize that all of these symptoms and thoughts weren’t me. What about the side that wanted to recover? That was ME. Even now in recovery, I find that some days, I feel terrible about my body and myself, but things are different. Now, I know that bad days are just bad days, and that life moves on. Now, ED has no say in my life.. I am free. I am no longer a captive of this mental illness. It is possible. Recovery starts with claiming your independence of the eating disorder. I refuse to be ED’s slave. I am now free to be me.
Marina Abdel Malak is a student in Nursing with an interest in mental health and eating disorders. She has her own blog at http:www.anorexiarecovery1.blogspot.ca/. She is recovered from anorexia nervosa.