“Eating disorders are not a choice, but recovery is.” If you follow any blogs related to ED recovery, you’ve probably come across some version of this quote before.
But what does it really mean? Is “choosing recovery” really that simple or easy?
As anyone struggling with disordered eating knows, it’s not. Making the decision to recover is complicated. There are often a lot of barriers that stand in the way of getting help. Some of these are external, but a lot of them come from inside.
The truth is, one of the biggest barriers to recovery is often your own mind. Or rather, the “eating disorder” part of your mind.
“I’m not skinny enough to have a real eating disorder.”
“No one will take me seriously because I’m not even thin!”
“I’ll finally deserve help when I’m thin enough.”
“I don’t have a problem; once I reach my goal weight everything will be better.”
Any of these sound familiar? If so, you aren’t alone.
One thing that I learned in my own recovery is that the NUMBER ONE thing your eating disorder wants you to believe is that you aren’t “sick enough” to deserve help. It wants you to believe that you will be ridiculed and dismissed if you say you have a problem. If your disorder can keep you believing this, then it’s safe. Unfortunately, societal misconceptions about eating disorders often reinforce this [false] belief, making it even scarier to seek help.
But the reality is that eating disorders are scary. They are debilitating. And they can be life-threatening at ANY weight. And yes, there are unfortunately still a lot of doctors and counselors out there who believe that severity of an ED can be determined by someone’s body size. It can be disheartening and frustrating to feel dismissed when you finally get up the courage to reach out for help.
But there are also a lot of great clinicians out there who ARE educated about disordered eating and DO recognize that your disorder is serious, no matter what your body looks like.
Being dismissed by one clinician does not mean your problem isn’t serious.
It does not mean you don’t deserve help.
And it does not mean you have to be stuck in your disorder forever. It just means you might need to try again with someone different. Someone better educated.
Though my own weight fluctuated a lot throughout my eating disorder, I never once reached the low BMI that I thought would finally “qualify” me as deserving of help. When my attempts to reach out about my problem were dismissed, my ED would whisper, “Told you no one would take you seriously.”
This may sound especially familiar to those of you in larger bodies who have tried to seek out help for your disorder. When you feel like you are dismissed again and again, it’s easy to stop trying.
But then who wins?
It took a long time for me to decide to reach out again about my own problems with food and weight. When I finally did, I was terrified, and completely prepared to be dismissed again. But I wasn’t. And thus began my journey to where I am today.
Recovering from an eating disorder is one of the scariest, hardest, and most freeing experiences. And feeling free is something that everyone deserves.
Even months into recovery, I still sometimes fight that voice that says my ED wasn’t bad enough, or that it wasn’t real because I wasn’t “underweight.” While I used to take these beliefs at truths, I now recognize that it’s just the disorder. If you are hearing similar things in your mind, that is simply proof that your eating disorder is real, and it’s trying to keep you stuck.
Is it really even worth it?
Think of all the reasons you have to recover. Think of all the things your eating disorder has cost you. Think of all the things that you could accomplish without your eating disorder in the way. Think of what it would feel like to wake up every day feeling confident and loving yourself.
Think of all the things you truly value– where does an eating disorder fit in with that?
Think of all these things, then choose recovery.
Choose to take a chance and reach out for help. The risk of asking for help is so small compared to everything you have to gain from recovery.
Recovery is possible, but it can’t be done alone. And there ARE people out there to help.
If you don’t know where to start or need resources, please feel free to message me 🙂