Scared of Losing My Eating Disorder

By February 1, 2013

Why am I so scared of losing my eating disorder? It is not good for me physically, emotionally, or spiritually. I completely understand everything about this. Something inside of me won’t let take that first step toward getting help. I just started college at Pacific Lutheran University. I am not performing well academically as a result of my disordered eating. I want to be happy again; I want to be normal again, but there is something holding me back. Why am I so scared to break free from something that destroys everything I am living for? And how am I supposed to get rid of these feelings?

Dear Anonymous,

The hardest thing for all human beings is (1) starting something, and/or (2) stopping something.  It takes less energy to continue a habit. And the habit has served a purpose even if the results are negative and/or life threatening. The purpose may have been about power, self protection, controlling how attention was brought to self, etc. We could make a long list. One idea I am stressing is that the familiarity of the ED may have created a feeling of comfort and security and the idea of just labeling it “no good for me” and walking away may create anxiety or temporarily strengthen your desire to keep it.

I also read that you have made a recent transition? Starting University? Perhaps it helps you cope with any fear and/or sadness (or other feeling) that arises in being a new student, making new friends, and doing all of this in an environment where you are intentionally creating the future you (a degreed you).

What are you living for? Who are you besides feeling trapped with an ED? Many times when we are in transitions we have great expectations about the “results”: “I should be free of the ED,” “I need to be normal and without the ED.” And we spend very little time on the Journey: the story of how each of us finds freedom, love, acceptance, and self-respect free of the ED. Just discarding the “feelings” that you want to go away is craving an end result (“No more feeling that!”), but it might be more important to discover the answer to the following: “How have I told myself that the ED helps me? What do I believe it does for me that I can not trust others or myself to do?”

Honor your desire to be free of that which you believe robs you of living your intended life (that God meant just for you!) by reaching out for help. Life stage transitions (like starting University) create enough feelings for young people and it might be very helpful to have a professional counselor you can walk alongside.  Additionally, most of us Journey better when we have a community of support and acceptance. Find a support group for young women with EDs that is healthy and led by a professional.

In summary, you may be finding it difficult because you feel alone. You are scared and possibly even sad about having to deal with the ED and starting school. Do not remain alone. Many organizations and professionals are poised to help. Good journeying!

Leanne Spencer, LPC, MAMFC, CGE