Why is anorexia recovery so hard?

Why is anorexia recovery so hard? Driving home from work this week I have been listening to one of my favourite CD’s, Ben Haenow. The last track on the album is my favourite (“Something I need”) and the first few lines are thought provoking:

“I had a dream the other night, about how we only get one life”.

It is a coincidence (or fate, as I like to believe)that I have been reading one of my diaries from school as well this week and on the 12th January 2004, aged 15, I wrote:

“I really hope I do get to be an athlete when I’m older because you only get one life and that’s what I want to do in it”.

It is true. We do only get one life and it is what we make of it. But unfortunately, anorexia has robbed me of much of my life. And here I am, at 27, with many years wasted due to anorexia and still, at present, time (and life) is passing by while I stay clinging on.

Why, I ask, do I stay holding on to this devil that is anorexia when it has destroyed and continues to destroy so much of my life? Why is anorexia recovery so hard? My dreams have been shattered, my self-esteem and confidence demolished, my health and fertility wrecked, my friends vanished, my family exhausted, much of my life lost…all thanks to anorexia. This is the destruction it has caused yet I still cling on to it for dear life. But anorexia doesn’t allow life, at best, you get an existence. And I know this, I am well aware of how demonic anorexia is and I know that my life is slipping by as I remain in its clutches. But I can’t let go. And I don’t know why. Logic and common sense do not prevail.

Something that is making me so miserable you would think I would try and get rid of at every opportunity. But my mind tells me, Yes life is miserable with anorexia but it would be even worse without it and I need it to cope with the trials of daily life. I am nothing without anorexia; it is my identity, it is who I am. I have never been, and never will be the pretty one, or the chatty one, or the fun one so at least, by having anorexia I can be someone…the anorexic one. But to most people this isn’t an attractive or likeable trait and again, my head knows this but still, it has me trapped. I guess this is why I find anorexia recovery so hard.

Anorexia has been a part of my life now for so long I can’t remember a time without it. I think fear has a big part to play in my hold for anorexia. Fear of the unknown and fear of disappointment. Life is full of disappointments and I can’t deal with them, so I will just stick with being anorexic. The thought of change is scary and another saying that seems relevant to my life-better the devil you know. But is this true?

This week, there have been two highlights, occasions where I have actually felt happy and anorexia was non-existent during these times. It is only over the past year that I have started to have moments of happiness. Yes, they are few and far between but they are there. Tuesday night I went to my athletics training and I loved it. More than I ever have before. Not because I was burning calories, not because I was pushing my body, I was just enjoying running and doing it with other people. And ‘exercise’ and ‘enjoy’ are two words I never thought I would use in the same sentence…this was something anorexia had robbed me of as well. Exercise had become a chore, I was a slave to it, and I hated it. But not my current athletics training. This I truly do enjoy.

The second happy occasion was Friday afternoon, going to the cinema with a friend. A really good friend. And I had a really good time. Anorexia has prevented me going to the cinema in the past. It took away friends that I could go with and it took away my ability to sit down. Going to the cinema with a friend is just a small thing and something that everyone else does in everyday life. But it is a small thing that has made a big difference to me. Being with great company, chatting, and doing something together, now that made me happy.

Both those occasions during the week made me happier than anorexia has ever made me. And I know moments like these would probably become more regular the more I let go of anorexia. My life would be more independent, care-free, spontaneous and enjoyable (probably) if I were to let go of anorexia. But I can’t and it frustrates me. Why does such a big part of me still WANT to be anorexic? Why can’t I want, 100%, wholeheartedly, to get better completely? This would make the idea of ‘recovery’ so much easier, because I could just get on and do it. Why is anorexia recovery so hard? However, before there wasn’t even 1% of me wanting to get better and now it is something I do think about and a fair amount of the time I do want.

So, at the moment I am living in a state of confusion and it causes stress. I want to be anorexic, I want to be better. I want to lose weight, I want to have a life. I’m scared of losing anorexia, I’m scared of life staying like it is. Daily battles in my head that I have to fight. But at least now the counter arguments to anorexia are there. And hopefully they will keep niggling away, chipping down my grip on anorexia until one day, I will face the fear and make the change. There is a lot about me and my anorexia that I don’t know, but that I do know.

If you would like to order my book – Running Free: My Battle with Anorexia, you can order it here: https://srlpublishing.co.uk/product/running-free

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why is anorexia recovery so hard
Why is Anorexia Recovery so hard? Bex Quinlan

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