You’re lying in bed trying to just get some sleep, get a break. Your mind is exhausted from worrying and stressing over every tiny thing. All you want to do is to shut your mind off and go to sleep. You wrap your body in the blankets and shut your heavy, tired eyes. But what will you have for breakfast tomorrow? Your mind needs to know. It needs to have a plan so you don’t break the rules. You want this? No, too many carbs. Ok well maybe this? Sure, only if you workout. Oh no, what will you do for your workout tomorrow? Your legs ache under the covers and for a second you allow yourself to contemplate taking a rest day. But then you stop because you’re scared. Scared of what will happen to your body and what your Eating Disorder will say about it.
You wake up in the morning and allow yourself a small breakfast so you will be able to run later. Once you finish the last bite, your friend texts you. “Hey, a bunch of us are heading over to the beach for the day! Wanna come?”. Of course you want to! You start to say yes but then it hits you, you haven’t worked out. You just ate breakfast and you planned on working out, so you have to. You just have to, that’s it. You lie to your friend because you logically know refusing plans to workout isn’t the right thing to do, but you have to do it anyways. While you’re running, you have to avoid the beach so your friends don’t see you, but the whole time you can’t help thinking of the beach anyways. Your legs ache, and the stabbing pain in your knee gets stronger and your mind can only think of one thing – “keep going”. You finish your run and instead of feeling proud and satisfied, your ED still is not pleased. Your Eating Disorder tells you, “It could have been longer. You failed”. You went on the run only to please your ED and avoid its criticism, but listening to it only makes it louder.
You check your phone and see a message from your friend. “We missed you today! We’re going to dinner tonight, are you available then?” You can’t say no again so you accept, but not with ease. Your ED tears you apart by telling you all the reasons you shouldn’t go out to eat. All the articles you scrolled across saying “10 Reasons Why Eating Out is Ruining Your Health” fill your head. You said you’d go, what are you going to do? You text her again and ask where you’re going to eat so you can find the menu online and pick the lowest calorie item on the menu, so you know what to order. You ate a small lunch after your workout but your stomach is growling and your body needs more food. But you’re going out to dinner. You do anything you can to distract yourself from eating until you have to leave for the restaurant.
Everyone sits down at the restaurant and opens the menus. You pretend to figure out what you want to order when you’re really only checking to make sure they have the low calorie option you found earlier. Everyone’s laughing and talking and all you can do is think about your dinner that’s about to come. What if they pour extra dressing on my salad? What if they don’t measure the rice before they put it on my plate and then the calorie information is wrong? Your mind races and you start to feel hot and claustrophobic. You do all of this in attempt to please your Eating Disorder who in turn will never be satisfied.
That night, you could have shut your eyes and fallen asleep knowing that you will eat what your body wants, when it wants it. You could have gone to the beach with your friends. You could have been present at the dinner and ordered what sounded good. The only reason you didn’t was to be safe from your Eating Disorder’s ridicule. However, if you follow your ED’s rules and obey, you will never be free from bad thoughts. Your Eating Disorder will never say, “Great job. You’ve done enough”. All it wants is for you to keep going, to keep spiraling downwards. You couldn’t order what you wanted because you were scared of how you would feel. Would it be worse than the hunger and constant agony you feel from your mind? Your Eating Disorder has the strength to drown you but you can fight back. Sometimes when you overrule your ED, it realizes it is not as strong and you feel nothing but empowerment. Ignoring your ED and doing what you want may cause difficult thoughts to arrive, however, when listening to your ED you are not pleasing yourself nor freeing yourself of bad thoughts. When you listen to your ED, there are never positives. When you go against what your Eating Disorder wants, it will be difficult but good things will come of it too.
Recovery became easier when I realized even if I feel the feelings I’m scared to feel, none of them are worse than being controlled by my eating disorder. Eat the thing your head is telling you not to, and see how you feel. It’s likely you’ll feel empowered and not guilty like you expect. But if you do feel guilty, I would say guilt is easier than the constant ruling from your ED. Don’t go to the gym today. Maybe your mind will give you hell, but your body will thank you. Maybe you’ll beat yourself up for a bit but eventually you will realize a day off doesn’t change anything and that your Eating Disorder is a liar. Do what makes you scared and I promise you that you will then realize nothing is worse than being suffocated by an eating disorder.