“It makes me special. It gives me someone to be.”
“Without it you would be invisible?”
“Yes. I would be nobody. I would be non-existent in everyone’s lives.”
This was the conversation I had with my psychologist last week. I explained to her what anorexia gives me and she acknowledged that it is very much part of my identity. Following on from my feedback from my interview a few weeks ago, describing me as having ‘no personality’ and not being outgoing, I told my psychologist how this proves that I am completely unlikeable and boring – And this is why no one would want to be my friend…and why I need anorexia.
It is how I have felt throughout my life – feeling complete and utter hatred of myself and sheer unlikability. I described how I had friends throughout school but always felt on the edge, always felt left out. I also explained how when I went back to university after taking several years out due to hospital admissions, I completed the following 4 years without talking to anybody.
She asked about when I went away to university initially, whether I had found that difficult and if I had problems forming friendships. But actually, my first year of uni was different and I made really good friends and for the first time actually felt like I belonged. Ironic then that this be the time that anorexia took over. I started to feel left out, like they didn’t like me, that again-I was inherently unlikeable without any friends. So anorexia grew.
My psychologist questioned why I had felt like that, what evidence did I have that they didn’t like me? I explained that sometimes they would knock on each other’s bedroom doors before mine and of course, this meant to me that they didn’t like me as much. My psychologist explained that I am constantly looking for things that confirm what I believe and how I feel – I believe people don’t like me and prefer everyone else to me so I look for signs to confirm this. And ignore and dismiss everything else confirming the opposite.
“I had really good friends and we all got on really well.” My psychologist highlighted that this is what I had said initially. So she pointed out that this is evidence that I am not a completely unlikeable, boring person that no one likes or wants to be friends with. And having been at work for nearly 2 and a half years, I have made friends and got on well with them – another piece of evidence. And I see my other two friends from home/uni – evidence again.
But as my psychologist explained, I don’t acknowledge this evidence, I only look for that confirming my beliefs. She asked me if I ‘mirror checked’ and of course I do – I hate it…but I can’t help it. And what do I look for when I look in the mirror? Signs of fat, signs that my stomach sticks out and my thighs nearly touch…signs that confirm what I believe – that I am big.
I was never aware before that I did this – actively looking for evidence to support what I believe and how I feel. But now I can see that I do…and I do it A LOT, in every part of my life. However, as my psychologist explained, this means that I am always looking to support my core belief of self-hatred and unlikability; that this is the only evidence I ever acknowledge so I end up making these feelings even stronger. It is a vicious circle that continues to ensure I have absolutely no self-esteem.
So this is a habit she wants to help me try to change. To build up my pool of evidence that doesn’t support my negative view of myself. It feels a long way off – for me to start acknowledging that not everything in the world proves I am the worst person ever. Anorexia reinforces this negativity and that I can never be a person that people like so therefore convinces me that I must hold onto it. I can see that his chain of thought has to be broken but it feels like a near impossible task as it is such a deep, intrinsic belief. But I have to start somewhere and I am willing to try. Because I do want a life, I do want friends, I do want to start shaking these anorexic chains. And this is a terrifying prospect. But I cannot let fear stop me. As I said last time – the only things you regret in life are the risks you don’t take. I don’t want to be sat here in five year’s time regretting never to have tried fighting anorexia. I can’t fight it 100% of the time (not at the moment anyway) but I can start chipping away, making small changes…and one day I will get there.