I’ve had an eating disorder for 15+ years. I remember actively having the ED thoughts when I was about 8 years old, and I’m now 23. So my life has truly been wrapped up in thinking about EDs, helping others with EDs, focusing on what to do to get into recovery from EDs, researching about the latest medical/mental health treatment available for EDs, the psychological/science aspect of why EDs occur, nature vs. nurture theories about EDs, etc. It’s caused a HUGE rift in any social or recreational or intimate situations for me. I literally have such a hard time finding anything I can truly be as interested in as the ED. For now, I am trusting in God to deliver something positive and helpful my way, but I feel like, by signing up for Bible classes/studies and other “craft classes” at craft stores and volunteering, I’m just avoiding the issues and going through the motions. I honestly don’t have the physical or mental strength or medical stability to go to school/work, so I feel like I’m stuck in a child-like rut, in a backwards, downward spiral. I just keep trying and trying, praying and praying, and trusting in God. But I’m scared I will never enjoy life, or be a “normal” individual, as I have never been free of an eating disorder in my entire life. Please, if you can, help?!
Sounds like you have put a great deal of work into your recovery. Well done and keep going. Until you are medically stable, there is still work to do. Now, it’s time for the next chapter right? Sometimes I think God wants us to look up and around us and see what He is already doing in the world, and then join Him in that. If you enjoy reading, I have found a couple books in my life to be instrumental in helping me to see God’s plan around me: Experiencing God and The Purpose Driven Life. Also, you may want to take time to journal and pray about a few things: What am I good at? What do I like to do? What piques my curiosity? What do I feel passionate about? What is easy for me to learn and understand? What have people always told me I’m good at or should get into? What is available in my area? What is affordable for me to pursue? What would help/serve others?
You don’t have to completely abandon your interest in learning about your eating disorder; you will likely be working on your recovery in little ways each day for a long time. One day it will not be so consuming; the further you get away from it, the more freedom you will experience. For now, maybe the most freeing thing for you would be to take the focus off YOU and the ED and look up and around you. Starting off with random acts of kindness may catapult you into a whole new motivation in life: who needs a kind note or cheery card from you? Who could use some encouragement? Is there a neighbor who would appreciate a visit or bunch of flowers? Does a friend need a supportive call? Would mom or dad appreciate your help with something around the house? I believe God uses our service to others as a wonderful anti-depressant.
There is hope; you will find healing. There are unbelievable adventures to be had in the Lord. Allow Him to reveal Himself to you and stir in your heart. Start small and see where He takes you. First ask for the desire, and then be open to the change. The Spirit gives LIFE (2 Corinthians 3:6). Go for it and enjoy the freedom that is awaiting you!
Juliet N. Zuercher, RD