I’ve always struggled to distinguish myself from my anorexia the way others have.
Some people describe it as a ‘seperate voice’ in their head, or a friend enouraging them to restrict..shouting at them for ‘indulging’ and guiding them down the wrong path.
For me it never seemed quite like that..only like the internal conversation we all have with ourselves. In the same way I would think ‘did I lock the door? better go and check’ that same internal voice would say ‘that meal has too many calories, i will only have ‘X’ later’….or ‘i better go on a run’…or whatever method would lead to restriction and further weight loss. But weirdly enough the reason WHY never came into play…
I revert to the door scenario…it’s instinctive and somewhat engrained in your mind to want to check you’ve locked the door when there is doubt..you would automatically turn around and do so. You don’t stop and think ‘but why should i check? Is it likely for someone to break in? And if they were going to break in they’d probably break the door anyway not walk up to a house in the hope they left it open’ and consider not doing so. Or when I’d tell myself I had to revise for an exam..that wasn’t a disorder making me do it, and I didn’t sit and ask myself the reasons for revising or have to convince myself it was the right decision..I just cracked open a book and got on with it.
This was the same for restricting..I didn’t stop to wonder WHY I ‘should eat less’..and I imagine if I did I wouldn’t have had an answer. I didn’t want to die, I didn’t and don’t find being underweight attractive, I didn’t want attention, I didn’t want to upset my family all to the extent as many anorexic tendancies as possible were carried out in secret. I just did it because it was what I did.
As far as I was concerned by that point it was simply MY goals, MY choice and MY willpower..i never thought past that to the whys or whereforths. The two distint parts of me became apparant however when I was admitted to hospital for the first time. The obvious reaction to the outside world being distress and anger but really on the inside all I felt was relief. Relief that I was going somewhere where anorexia couldn’t hurt me anymore. There would no longer be the question of ‘should I eat this?’ because i would have no choice..anorexia would have no choice or say and couldn’t control me anymore. It hit me that they weren’t my goals or choices as all, Emma wanted to eat and nourish herself so badly but the anorexia wouldn’t let me. I realise now that there were two voices after all, but the anorexic voice was so strong that it drowned me out so I couldn’t make my own decisions and was completely controlled by an impulsive illness that took over my entire body without me even realising. I would speak without thinking about what I was saying..take food out the fridge then throw it straight in the bin without thinking.. and have gone on a long walk, taking 10/15 minutes before realising I’d even left the house. Yet I was totaling convinced I was calling the shots! It was a bit like finally escaping an abusive relationship after spending months convincing yourself they actually loved you, and in that sense it was extremerly scary to let go..jump into the ‘unknown’ of recovery. That anorexic voice had become such an integral part of me I couldn’t remember who I was without it, and still don’t know to this day to a massive degree.
It’s all extremerly sad, frightening and stressful alot of the time..especially when you can feel it try and creep back in, tempting you back to your old ways. Sometimes its still just a case of being mechanical..pushing those thoughts to one side, doing what I have to do and dealing with them later. Which begs the question can I ‘fully recover’ and ‘get rid’ of this seperate being called anorexia for good…or is it just a part of me that I’ll always have to fight to ignore?
A few years from now and i’ll give you the answer..
Lots of love always,