Some of the most intelligent people I know, coincidentally, are those who all have one thing in common: their eating disorder. Not only are they incredibly clever, they are also emotionally intelligent and can have an enormous amount of empathy for those around them who are experiencing hardship themselves.
A number of individuals experiencing eating disorders, on the whole, know quite a lot about their illness. They know the physical consequences it has; they know the toll it can take upon their bodies. They’re aware of the costs that come with sustaining an eating disorder – or attempting to sustain an eating disorder, that is. They realise the impact that their eating disorder has upon their social life, their relationships, and their finances. They realise how much the eating disorder is doing them wrong and yet they are unable to escape from the grips of it. And this, my friends, is one of the scariest aspects of this illness.
When it comes down to it, it’s incredibly important to recognise that eating disorders serve some of purpose – and that this purpose can, and probably does, differ between individuals. And then on top of that, it’s perhaps even more important to delve further into the equation and establish what purpose the eating disorder really is serving.
Something I’ve struggled with an immense amount in recent times is the letting go of my eating disorder – the re-feeding has happened, the exposure to new and scary foods has happened, the overexercise has ceased – but yet I’ve still managed to hold quite firmly to other eating disordered behaviours, or particular rituals. And I’ve become incredibly stubborn about letting them go. These are the behaviours and the things that are continuing to keep my eating disorder alive. These are the things that maintain the eating disorder thoughts; the rules and the rituals. These are the things I’m struggling to let go of because without them, I’m not Rebekah who has the eating disorder – I’m Rebekah who is letting go of the eating disorder. And that, to my eating disorder, is the ultimate sign of weakness.
I can look at this situation rationally. Put another person in my place for example. Someone who has been re-fed. Who is eating according to their meal plan. Who exhibits a whole heap of ritualistic behaviours but they are working on changing them because they don’t want their eating disorder anymore. I don’t see that as a weakness whatsoever. It is in fact, my friends, a strength.
Be brave, peeps. Go out on a limb. Let it go. Just let it go. Life is waiting out there for you, and it’s so much lovelier on the other side. I’m willing and I’m praying that you are, too.