The Disordered Mind

A friend wrote this fantastic post that I wanted to share. I identified with it so much that I almost had to ask myself — Self, have you written a post that touches on this, too?

So I started looking and then promptly gave up. I’ve been blogging since June 2008 and have written more than 1,200 posts … too much to sift through and sleep was calling.

Anyway, in her post, Marci — a WW leader and WW success story — says, “I sent my son to Trader Joe’s for an item.  He bought exactly that item.  That’s it.  One item at Trader Joe’s.  Really?  I could NEVER go to Trader Joe’s and not even look around, get tempted with their goodies at every end-cap.  What a light bulb moment to know that some people truly will never have a food problem.  I envy them, but need to accept that, weight problem or not – I will always have a food problem.”

YES.

YES.

I’ve been recovered from disordered eating/over-exercising  since March 2009 when I took the all-or-nothing approach and followed the mantra: “Choose pride over guilt.”

I live a life of moderation now. I’m not thin, but though I could surely stand to lose 10-15 pounds, they don’t make or break me; I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time and it has nothing to do with the scale. I don’t over-exercise anymore; as it is, I literally have to carve out time now for the gym. And I chew and swallow all my food … healthy or not.

But I’d be lying if I said I was totally free from the demons, at least those demons in my head. As Marci notes, weight problem or not … I will always have a food problem.

No, I don’t engage in the ugly disordered behaviors of my past — nor do I actively think about engaging in them — but I still mindlessly munch and stress-eat from time to time. I still buy triggers I know I probably shouldn’t buy (the difference being I consume them now vs. compulsively spitting them).  And I still feel guilty when I go over my MyFitnessPal recommended intake (every day!) or have had a really indulgent couple of days.

Recovered or not, those nagging thoughts don’t go away.

Therapy helped me curb them, redirect them, reframe them, cope with them. But they’re still there, still in my DNA. Ten years of dieting will do that to you. Don’t worry; I don’t fear returning to old habits; I’m too strong for that and have too much at stake to ever go back. It’s simply not an option.

But I do think — like Marci — I might always have a food problem in one sense or another. It’s part of the disordered mind. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to buy a bag of candy and have it last a month. I don’t think I’ll ever not think of how many calories are in something (the difference being, it doesn’t stop me from enjoying; I just might always know it, subconsciously). I might food journal for the rest of my life because I like the parameters.

These are all parts of the disordered mind that — in spite of being in a really good place (and having been for five years) — are likely here to stay. I don’t share this to sound pessimistic, but rather because  I do believe it’s my reality.

And my reality includes recognizing that I don’t know if anyone is ever truly “cured.” I think you can, like me, be physically recovered, where you’re not engaging in disordered behaviors any longer. But to be free of the thoughts that drove the behavior in the first place? That’s much harder to combat … and not something I’m sure is possible.

So I do the best I can, trying to keep those thoughts at a distance and focus on continuing to always choose pride over guilt.

How about you? If you’ve struggled with an ED or disordered eating issues, do you believe you might always have a food problem? Do you think you can ever be free from the thoughts that drove your disordered behavior(s)?

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5 thoughts on “The Disordered Mind

  1. I would definitely agree with this sentiment. I think the most telling for me was the last time I tried therapy. When I had to choose a provider off the list, I didn’t choose someone with an ED specialty. “I don’t need that anymore… that’s not why I’m going this time” was my thought. She ended up making a few seemingly benign comments (for her) that were terrible triggers for me. I couldn’t even go back to see her because I was riddled with anxiety.

  2. First, Thank you so much, Melissa, for referencing my post. I’m honored that I have *watched* the last five years of you in that happy place with your family and career and it’s been a joy!
    It’s so freeing to know and accept that for always I’ll do exactly what you said – buy some triggers, mindlessly munch, overeat – whatever. And knowing that about myself, my food *problem* doesn’t rule me. A joy to live a life knowing that at times I’ll eat too much but I am still happy to be me in my life.
    Loved your post!

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