From Mirasol ED Recovery Guest Blogwriter ~ Hope
Being afraid of wearing a bathing suit on a summer vacation; having a fear of clothes shopping due to poor body image; feeling trapped in your own body; constantly counting calories; obsessing over food, weight, or shape; exercising out of compulsion; restricting or overeating in reaction to difficult emotions; feeling compelled to follow an energy consuming fad diet; spending time binge eating and risking life by purging unwanted calories; and especially losing things of importance (i.e. dream jobs, close friendships, precious time with loved ones, and other amazing opportunities)…These are all merely a handful of the myriad of losses of freedom that occur when you are trapped inside the monster of an eating disorder.
Today, hundreds of millions of Americans are celebrating Independence Day. Celebrating our many freedoms is one of the greatest privileges of living in the United States.
I’m no great historian, but gaining our independence from the United Kingdom was not an overnight accomplishment. In fact, it took more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War before the Continental Congress declared the thirteen American colonies independent sovereign states forming the United States of America. In the process, a committee of five men, including Thomas Jefferson, drafted the Declaration of Independence, a document largely dedicated to honoring human rights.
What stand out of greatest importance to me are the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It’s astonishing how much recovering from an eating disorder parallels to this short history lesson.
Life with an eating disorder is an entrapment. Just as with the resolution of the American Revolutionary War, recovering from an eating disorder doesn’t occur overnight. Recovery from an eating disorder parallels war itself because it requires a fight for your life with keen and consistent engagement. From start to finish, it can take several years to fully break free. The more chronic the disorder is, the more difficult it may be to overcome entrenched belief systems that maintain the disorder.
Living with an eating disorder denies several human rights, including the basic right to live. Just yesterday, I learned of another precious life lost to an eating disorder. I’ve sadly witnessed a string of such losses in recent months. In war, it is simple fact that lives are often lost in the fight for freedom. It’s a terrible and irreversible reality. These lives are not lost in vain, but it is incredibly unfortunate to know they have each become another statistic. In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders.
So what about liberty? From dictionary.com, “Liberty: freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.” Eating disorders have so much to do with control, or lack thereof: controlling emotions, food, weight, etc. They interfere with health, achievements, healthy and meaningful relationships, education/employment, and peace of mind. Individuals may also feel obligated to follow rules or laws that govern and “protect” their disorders. Restriction may include lack of joy, food, and socialization. Hampering conditions may include things such as negative or irrational thinking and limiting beliefs.
Of course these are all examples and are not a comprehensive list of what may go awry in regards to living a life void of liberty.
Considering these above lists, one can surmise that the chance of living with the pursuit of happiness is nearly impossible for anyone struggling with an eating disorder.
If you are currently suffering with an eating disorder and ambivalent about letting go, hear me out. Please trust me, because I am sadly an expert in this department. I have been “existing” with depression, anxiety, and anorexia for 22 years.
I’ve never truly been happy. Though I have managed to have many great achievements despite being desperately ill, especially mentally ill, very few times have I enjoyed or truly treasured my triumphs. In fact, the majority of the time, I have felt like I’ve been hiding behind a mask like a fraud unable to own them.
If you are suffering, please do not retreat and give up your rights to freedom and independence. Reach out for help now. A soldier does not fight a battle in solitude and recovery is no different. You will need a strong and sound support system and compassionate, experienced treatment team to help you win this war. Begin rallying in the troops, those who will be your allies in this tenacious battle so you can conquer the enemy we call “ED”.
So on this Independence Day, I ask you: Do you want to continue existing rather than living, achieving hard earned successes without appreciation and joy, and staying imprisoned to negative thinking and beliefs?
I hope there is at least some voice inside your soul that wants more for yourself, a part of yourself that wants freedom! I wish I could say this was an easy battle but going to war against your eating disorder will be one of the hardest things you have to do in your life. On the bright side, at least you can begin knocking it out now rather waiting 22 years down the road, only to find yourself living in the trenches alone and hiding from the world that wishes to embrace you, the whole you. Together, we can win our freedom and independence back!
In a fairy tale world, what would your Declaration of Independence look like? What would freedom look like to you? What would living in freedom mean to you?
I wish for you life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness! Happy Fourth of July! Let freedom ring.