In some cases, it may be more than apparent that a person is suffering from an eating disorder, merely by looking at their physical appearance. In other cases, the illness is not so apparent, yet this does not make it any less serious.
Eating disorders are as much of a mental illness as they are a physical one, and a great deal of the pain and torment is invisible to the outside world. A great deal of the pain is caused by the voice many of us hear reverberating deep within our despairing minds.
The voice. It sounds mysterious, does it not?
I gave my ED voice a name, just so that she was easier to live with...what a joke. Or did she give herself a name, so that I would be more accepting of her with a pretty name, despite the foul words she incessantly spat at me? Ana.
Ana; the voice of my self-hatred. Ana; the voice of my self-worthlessness. Ana; the voice of false hope. Ana; the voice of self-purposelessness. Ana; the voice of false promise. Ana; the voice of my anorexia.
She has been with me as far back as I can remember, but undoubtedly became stronger and more vicious in the form of the ED voice. Now knowing that I have borderline personality disorder has helped me come to terms with how I latch on to anorexia’s voice so tightly.
And me being me, wanting to please everyone, I obeyed obsequiously.
In nursery school, I remember everyone else singing a song about how they were happy to be themselves, no matter who they were, and my voice and I sat there perplexed, utterly unhappy with myself, not even really knowing who I was – me or her. In infant school, she led me to believe that I was fat. In early high school she robbed me of my already dwindling confidence, self-worth and self-esteem. In mid high school, she led me to more serious self-harm and anorexia. By college, I was a mere shell, lifeless and just existing. For years, I was depressed, anxious, paranoid, anorexic, covered in scars, cuts and bruises, scared, alone, hurting and just wanting out.
Ana had filled me with such hope and false promises of happiness. Instead of feeding myself with food, Ana fed me with lies.
I wanted to disappear to avoid getting hurt again and again; I wanted to be empty and clean; I believed that losing weight would lead to happiness and being loved, something for which I longingly craved, and so the impeccable lies Ana fed me, in my vulnerable and state of never feeling comfortable in my own skin in the world, I willingly consumed.
These lies led me to numerous hospitalizations, with a tube thrust up my nose, a cannula jabbed in my arms and being watched 24/7, just to keep me alive. All because of a voice full of lies which I thought was protecting me like my own personal body guard.
For years, Ana was my only real companion, the only one there for me in a world into which I did not fit, the only one that could ease the turmoil within and the only one I could be myself with. There was no ‘myself’ though. It was always Ana. I lost myself, whoever ‘myself’ was, to this monstrous impostor living rent-free in my mind.
I needed the safety she offered; but it was a sham safety and I was under her enchanting spell. I felt threatened by recovery and scared of life without my secret magic trick, and to say that this fear is no longer here would be a lie. I trusted this voice more than anyone; she really did have me under her spell.
She is still there, and grows stronger the more I fight back, but the voices of those supporting me are singing louder and lifting me forward. They kick started the fight when I was too lost to see that I was lost.
You have to realize that recovery is a fight, before you are able to start fighting.
This took me a long time, and I still struggle with it today because that voice niggles away, painfully. Recovery hurts. Being trapped inside an anorexic mind and body numbs all intense feelings, both good and bad: this and depression left me feeling nothing but numb and dead inside. However, at the same time, BPD also means that as well as going through periods of feeling nothing, I also experience spells of feeling everything so intensely that it is beyond unbearable and I just want to get out of my skin, claw at it and get out of my body.
With recovery, more ‘normal’ feelings are returning to me, which is terrifying, but at least it is life, and I have to work hard to convince myself that it is better than the cold, dark hell of anorexia.
Step by step, with the support of therapy, love of a best friend, and kindness of friends in my life, these changes are happening, like little chemical reactions sparking off in my head. The more I realize anorexia’s demonic traits, the easier it becomes to challenge and distance myself from her voice.
I was once told I need to divorce myself from this voice, yet it is only now that I am beginning to realize what this means, as well as ‘kicking some anorexic ass’, of which I literally had no idea what it meant. I now call Ana by a different name; ‘Bub’. It stands for ‘bloody ugly bitch’, (excuse my language) because to me, the voice is so much more than a voice. The voice is memories and pain and torment and nightmares and despair and flashbacks, so the more I realize this, the more I can fight with a great army behind me.
I am now strong enough to start the divorce proceedings against the voice, and long for the decree nisi to become absolute. I still have such a long and twisting road to walk as Bub is a constant source of agony trying to break me down by using my insecurities and fears against me, but I am sick of her.
Sick and tired.
Although, I think you have to get sick and tired to really be able to fight back. I long to feel safe and comforted. I long for some inner peace from the torment within my mind.
I long to be free of her voice.
This freedom, is my dream.