One eating disorder symptom, which isn’t talked about enough, is the belief that you’re not really ill, and definitely not ill enough to get treatment. And for many, including myself, the belief that you don’t deserve treatment, that you don’t deserve more than this existence, the half-life that comes with an eating disorder.
Even now, far along my recovery journey, I find myself thinking I wasn’t that ill. Things weren’t that bad. I’m just an imposter pretending I was ill to get attention. A narcissist, as one troll called me. After all, there were times when I didn’t binge much. There were times when I felt in control of my eating.
And then I think about those times, and realise they were the times when I was restricting heavily and cutting out foods groups. When I was barely eating during the day, then going out and drinking heavily at night. When I was making myself sick and overexercising. And I’m forced to admit that I wasn’t in control at all. I was just using different eating disorder behaviours to cope.
The only times when I used food less were my worst bouts of depression, when I mostly felt numb and so there were less emotions to control. SSRIs dull everything. Not just sadness and depression, but joy as well. And during my first episode, I didn’t have the physical or emotional energy for anything, including food and attending university, for a few months. Replacing the symptoms of one mental illness with those of another isn’t exactly an option I’d recommend.
I think back to the perfectionism. The constant shame and guilt. The self-loathing. The body checking I’m still trying to kick. The failure of all my relationships. The lies. The obsession with food that left so little room for anything else. The fear someone would find out how disgusting I was behind my carefully created facade. The secrecy. The physical pain of bingeing and purging. The compulsion to binge that screamed so loudly in my head that I just wanted it all to end.
I think back to the fact that I was diagnosed and referred to an eating disorder service, and they accepted me for treatment, and continued that treatment over more than two years.
Yes, I was ill enough. And if you’re asking yourself if you are? Or reading this believing you’re not, while doing and feeling the things I’ve described? Trust me, you’re ill enough. If you’re not getting help, it’s time to find some. Please speak to your GP, and see my resources page thebedpost.blog/resources for alternatives.