To whom it may concern, (ie. YOU)
There is no doubt we live in a highly pressurized society. Particularity when it comes to appearance, weight and diet. We learn from a young age the way we are ‘supposed to’ live. What we are ‘meant’ to eat. And how much exercise we ‘should’ do. We live in a world consumed by these pressures. We experience, sometimes painful, emotions, this is what makes us human. Life can be crazy. It can be unpredictable and we can have little control over what happens to us. But how can all of this effect a young vulnerable child. A child who experiences anxiety and learns to fear the world we live in, fear their own bodies and themselves. And what happens when life feels too overwhelming for them to handle and they turn to the one thing they feel they can control…. That being, their weight. Eating disorders are psychiatric illnesses. They are not a lifestyle choice, or a phase which will pass. They cannot be cured by eating a hamburger or fries. They are not about our appearance or weight; this is solely a side-effect of the torment we experience in our heads. It is that voice inside our heads, which have been constructed to tell us and make us believe we have no worth. They are an addiction. Like drugs, alcohol and gambling. We are addicted to control. Controlling the emotions, we are feeling. Controlling the outcomes within our lives. Controlling what we eat and how much room we take up in this world. We as humans, are all quite simply, our minds. And our minds are constructed by our environment. When recovering from any other addiction, we detox. We remove ourselves from these substances and behaviours. But with an eating disorder, this is impossible. We must face our addiction every day. Every day, being exposed to the ideas which we have become to believe, and intensely fear. Our brain response, is much like an animal in the wild being faced with a predator. The chemicals released are that of a ‘fight or flight’ response. Something that is not controlled, yet constructed by our automatic response system. The overwhelming fears lead us to stay in the destructive mindset of our illness. Leading to behaviours we may not want to be engaging in. Secrecy, deceptions and lies. Being completely debilitated by the fear of feeding our starving bodies and brains. Isolating ourselves out of fear of judgement. And feeling the whole world views us in the distorted ways we view ourselves. Human beings fear anxiety more so then they fear physical pain. This is why people will stay in violence fuelled relationships. The anxiety experienced by confronting the real problem, is more intense then the pain in itself, to stay. And when it comes to restrictive eating disorders, the pain does not stop once we restore the weight lost, back. All the fears and underlying issues still remain. It takes a great deal of hard work, working on getting in touch with our minds and bodies to truly recover from this horrible illness. To truly reconnect and learn how to eat again and not be riddled with anxiety and fear.
So next time you see someone, underweight, overweight, exercising, ordering a salad, eating fries…. Don’t be so quick to judge. You can never have any idea what demons this individual is fighting behind that masked smile. An eating disorder is far too complex. Even for the sufferers to truly understand.