“You’re desperate to cling on to it aren’t you.” This is what my old consultant at The Priory said to me last week (which I had to pay for) when we were talking about anorexia and the idea of recovery. I acknowledged his comment as true, I am desperate to cling on to it…but I can’t help it and I told him I don’t know how to change this.
“I just need to keep a bit of anorexia,” I told him, “I can’t not have it at all. I need it. Just a little bit of it.”
He questioned me as to why I felt I needed anorexia and what it gave me to which I gave him honest answers which included it being a part of my identity…it is who I am and it makes me different from everyone else. Without it I am insignificant, disappearing into the background as a nobody. But anorexia gives me someone to be…everyone else has lots of things going for them and I haven’t…but I can be anorexic. This has always been my thought process, this is just how it is.
“It is anorexia telling you that,” he replied “It is not you, it is the anorexic part of you telling you that you need it, that you cannot cope without it.” People have tried this approach with me before, making out anorexia to be a separate entity to me and I have always just dismissed it, convinced anorexia is intertwined with me…it is how I think, not how anorexia is making me think. But for the first time, I started to think about what he was saying…and started to recognise that actually it is true.
When I have positive thoughts, when I think about wanting to get better, it isn’t me not wanting to, it is anorexia brainwashing me with fear that I cannot live without it. These aren’t my thoughts; the thoughts of Rebecca, these are poisonous anorexic thoughts which will if allowed, keep me locked up in my anorexic prison cell for the rest of my life.
“How can I change these thoughts?” I asked him. Him talking to me and referring to anorexia as separate had really struck a chord…but, whilst I can now see that anorexic thoughts are just that-anorexic thoughts and not Rebecca thoughts, they are still very overpowering and still very convincing and anxiety provoking.
He indicated that a lot of therapy is what is needed to help change these thoughts, that consistently fighting them and challenging them does in time help to beat them. So that is the first thig on my to do list-to start regular therapy to tackle these thoughts. I am not going to keep hiding away and going along with what anorexia is telling me. It is a terrifying prospect and my mind is telling me I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t be trying to fight these thoughts and I should do as they say. But I have tried to life the anorexic way and it hasn’t made me happy. Whilst my head is still convinced that I need it, even just a little bit, now I can finally see that this is anorexia saying this and these are the thoughts I need to tackle. And I will.
“People don’t like to be controlled by others,” he explained, “if people tell others how to live their lives they don’t like it, they don’t want their life to be controlled by someone else, they want to live it their way. But anorexia is controlling your life, it is telling you how to live. You wouldn’t accept this from someone else.”
I had never really thought about this before. I hate being told what to do, I want to do things because I want to do them, not because I have been told to. But he is right-anorexia has control of me and my life, I live how it tells me to. I am not in control, I am not doing what I want to do…I am doing what anorexia tells me to. And it’s about time I started to try and change this.