Dizziness, Mental Battles with Food

I’m not sure what I hope to accomplish by writing you, but I have to try. I’m almost 18 years old, and I can’t do this anymore. For so long I’ve battled between these two minds: one that knows I am a healthy weight and perceives the world as it is and loves myself, and the other that tells me again and again how fat and out of control I am, and that I need to be fearful. My struggle with feeling fat began in my preteen years, six years ago, and I was legitimately chubby. For a year I wasn’t bothered by my weight, mainly because I grew over seven inches and dropped 15 pounds simultaneously… I was 5’7″ and *** pounds. Well, I haven’t grown any taller, and now I’m *** pounds. I did ballet for seven years… I run distance three seasons… My parents know nothing. I tried to tell my mom today, I said, “I wish I had a better body image,” and she was clueless. She tried to tell me that I had a good one, and even if I didn’t I should because I’m small enough.

Help! Last year I managed to get down to *** pounds, and I was feeling dizzy and sick, so I talked to friends and they helped me get back on track so that I gained it all back… I’m glad I did, but I need my mind back still! I don’t want to be constantly fearful that I will either gain weight or fall back into dangerous dieting. I can’t run well and diet. I can’t be me and diet. I just want me back, but I don’t know how, and my parents are no help. This is really important to me, I need to get over this, even if it means I gain some weight, or never lose all of the weight I’ve gained in high school. What do I do? Who can I talk to? – Hannah

Dear Hannah,

Your opening salutation states: “I’m not sure what I hope to accomplish…”. As I have read and re-read your question the last week I concluded several things about what you accomplished:

  1. You revealed that you are a spirited, thinking, young woman with good desires and wishes
  2. You revealed that there are safe and unsafe people from whom to seek healing and wisdom.
  3. You revealed that you desire to live free of a battle that occurs in your mind and can control your heart (feelings and ideas you hold about your value, your body, etc.)

I am in full joy when I hear from a young woman that is capable of deciphering and expressing the above data. I find, from reading what you write, that you must be a very competent, articulate and emotionally intelligent female. The request at the end of your question was for “What do I do? Who do I talk to?” and I want to respond.

You experience a part of you that “knows” certain truths about you and yet you hear a critical self-voice that tells you that your weight on a scale is tied to your overall self image and body image.

My sense is that you are at a crisis of belief about body image and self worth. The battle you describe demands action right now. Consider the following:

  • Question the voice that wants to “tell” you negative, self demeaning, data about from where it originates. Pretend you are driving your car and you find your mind shifts to entertaining the negative voice. Out loud, in the car, dare to ask: “Who are you?”  Deny that critical self voice the right to be heard. When it begins its seductive campaign to pull your heart in to anxiety or self doubt: “I want to live. You are not a voice that speaks life. You speak death. You want me to lump all safety and self worth into a battle with food. I deny you as a safe voice. I want to live.” Typing and printing this script on a small index card and keeping it close so you can read it aloud each time you experience that “battle” in your mind might be helpful.
  • Contact a high school or college counselor (often these resources do not involve you having to pay but provide confidentiality and opportunities for safe, professional, feedback). It sounds as if your parents do not meet your immediate needs and this may be an issue that is important for you to cope with and struggle through. I wish your mother had responded differently to you. A third party that is objective and trained can hear your plea for help and offer support, information, and steps for reaching your goal. I believe you can handle this battle and having someone along for the journey would be helpful.

My heart leaps in excitement for you, Hannah. Half the battle is recognizing that there is a fight for your mind, your attention, your heart, your energy, and your time. I do not believe that the answer is simple. It will demand that you begin to make choices about how you will value you, how you will know when you are living well, how you will know that you are safe, etc. My hope is that you will be a spirited warrior and fight the good fight. Claim your mind, the part of you that “knows”.

Sending you angels to assist in the battle,