Cause < Effect

Years ago when I was first diagnosed with an eating disorder, it seemed like I was always, always questioning the circumstances behind why I developed anorexia. What came first? The depression, or the eating disorder? I really got caught up in this question, and it wasn’t until I was talking to a friend later, who had come to me to ask me some questions about anorexia and eating disorders in general, that I stopped focusing on that question so much. At one point, while talking to her, I think I just kept saying over and over that I didn’t know what came first. Was I depressed, and then did I lose my appetite and start to restrict? Or did I begin eating less and less in an attempt to be “healthier” and grow depressed because I wasn’t getting enough nutrients? She made the point that I may never know, and why dwell on that? The important thing is to get better. She is so right.
With something like anorexia, it might not really matter what caused it, at least for recovery. In my case, I have found that I am curious about the circumstances and what might have caused me to develop disordered eating, but I know it wasn’t because of something that happened to me. I wasn’t abused or anything, which I think might sometimes be assumed by certain health professionals, or just society in general. I think there may be some connection between how I perceive my body, and how I treat it. I read a line in a book a while ago, where the protagonist says she never felt like her body was her own. She was almost afraid of it. I feel that way often. And if I feel that way, of course it’s going to be easy for me to care less for it. It has only been within the last month or so, that I have realized I can put lotion on my dry skin, and be taking care of myself. If my lips are chapped, I can put balm on them, and be taking care of myself. It seems so simple, and ridiculous, right? But for years, I never did anything to remedy these simple things, because I just didn’t care, I didn’t feel worth it. You can imagine how I would view food then, if I was already dabbling in disordered eating. I always felt like I wasn’t worth the food. Someone else should eat it instead of me, because I wouldn’t enjoy it enough. Never feeling like I “owned” my body gave me permission to treat it with less compassion than I should. I feel like I am slowly recognizing ways I can be kind to myself and heal. Depression might have played a role in the onset of an eating disorder, I know it really affects how I treat myself now, and view recovery. I value myself a whole lot less when I feel less than spectacular. I start questioning life, why I’m here, if life is even worth living. Right now it’s hard for me to remember what it feels like to be depressed, because I’m in a better place. And when I’m depressed it’s hard for me to remember what being happy feels like. More and more though, I am beginning to believe that genetics played a huge role in how my adolescence played out. “Genetics load the gun, environment (or circumstances) pulls the trigger.” If one quote could sum up how I feel about anorexia, that just might be it. I do think that lack of food causes me to feel crappy. Of course it does. But I think something in my brain may have always been on the prowl. I may have always had a genetic disposition to develop some sort of mental illness, and over the course of a few short months of eating less and exercising more, my brain got rewired faster than it should have, and suddenly I was more likely to eat less, exercise excessively, and feel less than happy about food as fuel. Or maybe it was always there with me. I can look back on certain instances and remember always feeling a certain way about food. Always feeling indebted to something, and always feeling unworthy. I write all of this in hopes that maybe it will help someone else come to find peace about the “why” behind their circumstances. I think I’m also writing this to try to lay to rest the thoughts and feelings I have today.
I won’t ever know for certain why I developed an eating disorder, but I do know it happened. And I also know that I am finally, finally ready to look my problems in the face and tell them to just give up. Because though sometimes it feels useless, and like I am fighting a worthless battle against myself, I know that there is a part of me that has gone rogue. It’s sickly and diseased, and it has to go. And the only way to do that is to be persistent and keep fighting. I recently saw this post pop up in my Facebook news feed, courtesy of one of my friends.

It’s interesting how my view of eating disorders used to be one of uncertainty and judgement. I thought the people doing the starving were intentionally hurting themselves. For me, on some level, I knew what I was doing…after the fact. But initially, I didn’t have a name to put to what was afflicting me. I remember writing in my journal that we had finally found out what was wrong. That I had been diagnosed with an eating disorder. This is also a good read, that I think helps to prove that eating disorders aren’t always intentional, or what we as a society think they are or should be.

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