“Eating disorders kill.” You’ve heard it said plenty of times. If you’ve been in the recovery community for long, you probably know someone who died as the result of an eating disorder. It is not that you don’t know this shit. You’re not stupid either — I never met a person with an eating disorder who wasn’t bloody smart.
Yet you still restrict. Don’t you?
Maybe you don’t restrict as much, and that’s the bullshit you use to justify your restriction. Maybe you don’t exercise as much. Maybe it is walking now, where as before it was running, so you tell yourself it’s not a problem. Maybe you eat a little more for lunch these days, and that allows you to kid yourself you are doing okay. Maybe you ate pizza last Friday, and your therapist said that was a good enough achievement for this week, so you’re good.
Bollocks. Utter bollocks.
People with eating disorders are intelligent, but all of us swallow our own bullshit far too well. And this, is what kills. We lull ourselves into believing our own crap about how much better we are doing. Treatment providers do it with us too, because they’ve been taught we are fragile little flowers who will wilt if not praised abundantly for every extra calorie we eat. They cheer and clap and tell you how well you are doing because you finished your sandwich at lunchtime rather than saying “Great … eat another one.”
Why and when did people become so afraid of telling the truth in case it upsets someone? I want you to be upset. I want you to understand that one sandwich is doing to do shit. I want you to know you’re pissing around with your life. I want you to know that this is real and you won’t get a second chance and that neither of us know how much longer your body can keep functioning with you under eating.
I’ve known too many people die to pretend that you eating a slice of pizza is an achievement, when we both know that your body asked you to eat the whole thing.
You’re not a fragile little flower. You’re not unaware that you want to and should eat more. You just think you’ll get away with it. You think you are getting away with it. People praising you because you ate half a bagel rather than scolding you for not eating ten of them doesn’t help with that, because that reinforces that it’s okay to under-eat — which is what you are still doing.
You’re not getting away with shit. You’re dying. And I’m so not afraid to tell you that. Have a tantrum. Write me an email saying I’m mean and that I don’t understand how hard you are trying and it’s not fair. Never read my blog again. I don’t care. I’m not going to tell you that you are doing great when I know that you are dying. And if you end up being another person who dies from an eating disorder, I won’t have been one of the people who told you that you were doing great when you weren’t. I know you are very capable of being told the truth, and I’m not going to insult you with anything less.
If you are under-eating — and by that I mean eating less than you truly want to, which, by the way, you can be doing even if you are eating everything on your meal plan, and if you are eating more than you were last week, and if you are eating five time more than your friends and family — then you are actively restricting. If you are activity restricting, you are not actively recovering. You can’t be restricting while recovering from a restrictive eating disorder. You can’t be participating in complusive movement while recovering from complusive movement. That’s not how this works.
Recovery means not restricting. So make a choice. If you are not in recovery, at least own it. If you want to recover, then wake the fuck up and get on with actually doing recovery. Stop restricting. Stop purging. Stop exercising. If you need more help, ask for it. Do what you need to do to stop dying.
Happy New Year.