Functioning in the adult world can be exhausting. Worrying about money, career problems, family stresses, maintaining friendships, and meeting responsibilities weigh on us all. If you are suffering from depression, like I am, some days even taking a shower uses all your energy. Let alone paying bills or cleaning the house. On top of all of this, it is not uncommon to feel obsessed with food and weight.
When the world seems overwhelming, it can be really tempting to use familiar eating disorder behaviors. By focusing all your energy on food and weight, you can shut out life’s demands.
There is very little time left to worry about anything else when you are obsessed with food. Spending all your time calculating and re-calculating calories can be a distraction. Excessively exercising or cutting your food into a certain number of pieces can easily fill your days.
Being absorbed in the tightly controlled world of restriction gave me relief from the bigger things I was worried about.
I can’t worry about money if I’m pushing myself to exercise for hours. When I’m busy obsessively adding up the number of calories I’ve eaten in a day, I can’t think about whether or not I’m good at my job. If I’m completely focused on the number on the scale being less than it was yesterday, I can’t obsess about not finding a partner, whether I’ll get to have children, or if I’ll ever be able to afford a house.
Why We Stay Obsessed with Food
Restriction offers an out. It offers a tiny world where all that matters is food and weight and calories and exercise, where the demands of real life can’t touch you.
It seems like an easy way to avoid the crippling anxiety of the unknown, and keeps you safe from being hurt or disappointed by life.
Restriction gives you ‘tunnel vision’ in that the only part of your life you can focus on is your weight.
In recovery, you are forced to look beyond your weight and confront the messy reality of what your life has become. Which may leave you feeling out of control and hopeless.
What Happens When You Choose Recovery?
Suddenly you realize that the life you thought you were in complete control of is in ruins. Maybe your friends are becoming successful in their careers, traveling, buying houses, and having families. Perhaps you fear you have wasted the last 10 years cycling in an eating disorder with all your money spent on doctors appointments, medications, and hospital bills.
Is It Easier to Stay In Your ED?
There’s no denying that it would be easier to return to the safety of the eating disorder, and at times it’s incredibly tempting to do so. But is that really how you want to exist in the world? So afraid of the uncertainty that you starve and isolate yourself to avoid feeling it?
I’ve come to realize that no, I don’t want to live like that.
It’s going to be the hardest thing I’ll ever do, but I’m done denying myself a real life just because I’m afraid.