I would like to touch upon a subject that many of us with eating disorders like to avoid: Higher levels of care. I feel as though there are several reasons as to why discussing a topic such as this can be so difficult and I’d like to share my main three hypotheses regarding the sensitivity of this subject. They are denial, fear of change, and loss of identity.
Denial. I have found it so strange that—despite believing that you are fully aware of degree your condition—so many people can still be unaware of just how much they are struggling. To be honest, I thought I had an accurate idea of where I as concerning how much I am struggling with my eating disorder but this past week as shown me otherwise. It caught me off guard, however, I feel that my being shocked (in a bad way) about obtaining a new level of awareness is a positive thing. Denial might manifest itself in the following common phrase: I’m not sick enough to require therapy/IOP/hospitalization/residential treatment. Someone who voices something similar along these lines I think is still experiencing some level of denial. DO I like my newfound realization of how much I am in need of a little more treatment? No…but it is one more step toward progress and recovery and I know I want to get better.
Fear of change. I think—no matter how you cut it—a lot of people who realize their eating disorder is ruling their world and affecting their health are afraid of the notion that a higher level of care may very well help them to change toward a healthier way of living. Though I posit that this fear usually stems from the eating disorder and not the individual, I think this fear might act as a psychological barrier toward taking that step that involves more treatment or supervision. Change, no matter what it involves, typically is always very uncomfortable. Whether it’d be going from middle school to high-school, moving out of your parents’ home, changing a job, or possibly a religious affiliation, we are typically very adverse to change—even if that change is a positive one or one that might lead to something better. The key here is to hold on to what the end result of changing will bring you instead of becoming consumed in the discomfort.
Loss of identity. Though I believe that an eating disorder steals the unique identity we used to embrace and exude. The thought of living a life without the eating disorder can be a terrifying one. Some people live with their disorder for so long they forget who they used to be and are unable to see who they could be. Plus, the eating disorder just loves to convince that without him, no one will like us, that we will not be special and that we—and others—will hate ourselves even more than we might now. The key to getting over this hump is to separate these thoughts from yourself and recognize they are facet of the disordered mindset. You will have to get used to looking at Ed as a liar and manipulator instead of your mentor. To be honest, I’m still having trouble labeling Ed a liar, but I can say that I know he is. Even though I may not have the confidence backing my knowing yet.
Listen to the others around you, especially to your treatment team. If they are expressing concern with regard to your progress or lack of progress, hear them out. Don’t dismiss their other options; really give them genuine thought. Express to them your apprehensions regarding a different avenue of care and any fears, anxiety or disbelief you may be experiencing. Your treatment team and your support network are on your side, not Ed’s. They want to see you grow and blossom into the incredible individual they know you can be. If you let them, they will help you every way they can to ease the discomfort of the change. Take advantage of it and cease every opportunity to pull away from your eating disorder. Yes, it will be uncomfortable, but when you are not alone and have your ‘partners in crime’ beside you every step of the way, it is manageable. Even more so, it is worth it. We may not see it’s worth yet, but my treatment team–whom I trust–says that it always is. Every single time. So, instead of listening to Ed’s bull crap, I think I am going to try my best to focus on that instead.
“and the day came when the risk to remain that in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin