When someone asks what they can do to help me, I have no idea how to respond. I know that there are people out there that love me, care for me, don’t want to see me suffer or die. I know my situation scares them and frustrates them. So shouldn’t that be enough of an incentive to get better? Shouldn’t I just be able to eat and not be in the danger zone anymore? I wish. Often, these thoughts lead me to the conundrum of enabling versus loving. What is the difference in this case? I’m not really sure, because my eating disorder is cunning. Anorexia will take any situation it is given, and turn it into something that it will benefit from. It may sound cliché, but it’s like that mouse in the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” book. This disease is not going to be happy with just one cookie, it’s gonna want more and more. And this applies to all sorts of scenarios.
You might get me to agree to a plan, you might suggest something that I feel capable of, comfortable with. Or, you might say the words “therapy” and “hospital” and I will cringe and curl up in a ball. You’ve lost me. I totally understand how the most logical approach to my situation and a “cure” would probably be some sort of therapy and treatment from an institution. At first, I agreed. I mean, where else do you turn? But from past experience, I now know that those things aren’t going to work for me. And if I am forced into them, then they really aren’t going to work. I have to want healing and help. I can’t be told to want it, because then it’s just someone else making a decision for me, but not doing the work. It’d be like if I decided you should become an expert at astronomy, and I signed you up for all of the classes and bought you all the books, shipped you off to a school and told you “see ya when you get there!”. You might feel like you should try, because after all, someone took the time to set this all up for you, and hey, maybe this astronomy thing isn’t so bad after all. But soon enough, you’re probably going to get frustrated, and angry that someone made this life decision for you, and you will stop working so hard (if you ever were) and slowly you will give up hope that you’re going to get any kind of award besides a big fat ‘F’ because that’s what you are, a failure. Ok, but back to what I was originally talking about…how can someone love a person with an eating disorder, but not cross that thin line of enabling them? Of course no one wants to see someone struggling, and lots of scenarios and outings in this life involve food. That makes me happy and sad at the same time. Happy, because hopefully I will soon be able to join in on the communal meal. Sad, because for so long I have avoided them. I have missed out on enjoyment, happiness, that fullness…
I want to let people help me, but it is so easy for me to go from being me, to what my dietitian has begun to call “Ed”. The fact that this disease has a name, has become somewhat personified, is a good thing I think. Especially with a name like “Ed”. I don’t particularly like the name, and I don’t particularly like Ed as a “thing” either. In fact, I hate him. It’s hard for me to differentiate between the two voices in my head. There is the real me, and there is Ed. And Ed tells me to eat less than I should. Tells me to avoid food at all costs, unless it is the usual little snacks and bits that I am comfortable with, but only at certain times.
To me, the logical me; enabling is letting me choose a certain meal because I know that it is the “healthiest” and lowest calorie option. Loving would be reminding me that my choice is wonderful, but maybe I could think of a side to go with it that I think would be yummy. Enabling is hearing me say I don’t like a food, and just taking me at my word. There are lots of foods that I used to eat on a regular basis, but I just don’t remember because that was ages ago. One thing I hope to get better at is not being afraid to try new foods, or even old foods that are somewhat new to me. Loving might be to push me a little and say that maybe I just don’t remember liking it, would I be willing to try it again? (At this point I might pull out the card that has me saying that no, I can’t try it, what if I hate it? Then I’d have to eat the whole thing and feel so, so guilty when I could have chosen what I know I like and been happy…this is me saying that, yes, that could happen, but life is full of choices. We try to make the best ones, and when they don’t pan out, what do we do? We get right back up and keep on walking. It’s just food.) There are so many more situations where loving and enabling come into play. Of course we’re gonna want to make people feel comfortable and loved…but sometimes Ed is there where he shouldn’t be, whispering lies in my ears.
This is me speaking honestly here. Feel free to be open if you are having a difficult time with knowing if I am actually talking, or Ed is. I have a hard time knowing too. One thing that is certain though? I had a slice of peanut butter toast, 2% milk, and a banana for breakfast today. I would never ever drink milk if I (…Ed..?) had say in things…but I did it, and guess what? I’m still here, I didn’t have a panic attack and to my surprise, it actually tasted good! Be cranky with Ed, I don’t like him, and I hope those around me will help me find ways to kick him out of my brain, which he has come to call home!