I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that there’s a ton of secrecy and shame associated with a lot of self-harming mental illness. Like cutting and eating disorders—a lot of the mental state is “OH NO IT’S MY LITTLE SECRET.’ It’s why you end up with the pro-ana movement right and calling it something girlish and feminine like “ana” and “Mia” like “it’s my secret best friend” when really it’s because you’re literally forcing your body to eat itself alive and you know that’s not sane but you can’t face telling people it’s not.
Because the ultimate reaction nearly every single time is
a) you’re fine what are you doing
b) you don’t have an eating disorder you’re watching your weight that’s fine
c) how could you betray me this way
and that’s A HORRIBLE HORRIBLE conversation to have—to convince somebody that yes, you’re not OK? you would have to admit that your behavior is unhealthy and you have to stop.
And EDs are like an addiction—it’s this horrifying loop of “I know I shouldn’t do this but it makes me feel better but actually it makes me feel worse I am such a piece of shit never again god just more I need to do more to make myself feel better more oh god not again” circle that really drives you insane. And like all addicts, we protect our source of our high.
So lots of people actually self-diagnose through the internet and reading similar stories and shit, but THAT DOESN’T MAKE THEIR STORIES LESS VALID OR THEIR ED LESS SEVERE. Not everybody ends up in the hospital with a feeding tube, thank fucking god. Not everybody has an ED problem that is loud and flashy—and the most scary disorders are the ones that people can hide and call themselves “Functioning.”
But like me, personally—it took me a while to actually tell a psychologist/therapist ANYTHING about my thoughts on food—I thought I was being normal and sane and proactive. It was horrible and then when one therapist actually made me keep a food journal she was shocked like “how long have you felt this way about food?” and it’s like I couldn’t tell her.
But we all know our signs. we all know the attitude we get. My last flare up was horrific and I didn’t realize how bad it was, how hyper focused I was on calories and food and denying myself pleasure that I literally was brushing my teeth at night and tasting my toothpaste and I was so damn hungry and fucked up that I thought “OH MY GOD TOOTHPASTE TASTES SO GOOD, IT’S LIKE CANDY FOR YOUR MOUTH—HOW MANY CALORIES DOES TOOTHPASTE HAVE?”
LITERALLY THAT WAS HOW TENUOUS MY LOGIC CHAIN WAS AT THE MOMENT. I WAS COUNTING THE CALORIES OF TOOTHPASTE—SOMETHING YOU USE TO PREVENT THE EFFECTS OF SUGAR ON YOUR TEETH.
So recovery is about those moments—those moments of “what the fuck am I doing?” it’s a private moment, just like the many scary private moments that make up the disorder. But it’s all personal. It’s not less valid just because you’re the only one who knows.
And there is a click when you know you’re acting fucked up. That click is amazing. That click is a revelation. For me, that click was Hedgeknight saying “you’re feeling guilty about a basic bodily function. Eating is necessary for your body.”
But do know that it gets easier when you have a support net. And like every addiction—admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving that problem.