In my work as a therapist with people struggling with eating disorders, some will describe their eating disorder as feeling like “a friend.” To those who don’t struggle with eating disorders, this might seem confusing.
However, often to the person who is struggling, their eating disorder may feel like a source of “companionship,” “comfort,” “something that makes me feel special,” and “that is always there for me.”
Your eating disorder has served some purpose for you, or you wouldn’t engage in the behaviors. However, it’s important to note that eating disorders often provide short-term feelings of “comfort,” and “anxiety-relief,” with long-term feelings of isolation, depression, and misery.
Your Eating Disorder Is Like a Toxic Friendship
The reality is that your eating disorder is like an incredibly toxic friendship. Your eating disorder threatens that if you decide to leave, your life will be in shambles.
Your eating disorder tells you that you will be unhappy without it.
Your eating disorder promises you comfort, connection, and specialness-and it may give you those feelings in the short-term. However, in the long-term, it only serves to make you more isolated, lonely, disconnected, and isolated from the people that you care about. An eating disorder often starts to become your primary relationship and your other relationships may start to suffer.
Eating disorders may promise to make you feel “special” and “unique.” However, the reality is that the deeper you are into an eating disorder, the more you become a carbon copy of everyone else who is struggling with an eating disorder. An eating disorder hijacks your true sense of self and replaces it with an illness.
I posted something the other day on Instagram, which helps to explain why eating disorders are like toxic (or even abusive) friendships, it said:
Your enjoyment of family dinners
Your sense of humor
Your ability to feel happy
You strong bones
Your shiny hair
What will your eating disorder take from you if you continue to stay sick?
Eating disorders are not a choice. But you can choose to take the first step towards recovery, today.
If You Are Afraid To Let Go Of Your Eating Disorder
If you are afraid of letting go of your eating disorder and starting to take steps towards recovery, I’d ask you to make a list of what your life could look like 5 years from now if you stay sick, vs. 5 years from now if you recovered.
The reality is that you can always go back to your eating disorder. But what if you tried something different this time? You know how to have an eating disorder, but what if you gave recovery a try? You will not regret it.
Have you ever been in a toxic friendship, and when the friendship finally ended you felt free? This is ultimately how you will feel when you recover. Your life will no longer be dictated and controlled by this eating disorder yelling in your head. You will be able to explore your true passions, build and strengthen relationships, and feel a sense of freedom and peace.
Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible!
Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C: is an eating disorder therapist in private practice in Rockville, Maryland. Jennifer specializes in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, and bulimia, and body image issues. Jennifer provides eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Germantown, and Washington D.C. Connect with Jennifer through her website: www.jenniferrollin.com