Eating Disorders, Anxiety, and Facing Ourselves Honestly

I’m taking a class on Anxiety Disorders right now, and it’s absolutely fascinating. It’s an online class from Universal Class. If you like to learn, I highly recommend checking out that site. Some libraries offer free tuition to cardholders, as I know the LA library system does, and there are hundreds of classes on a variety of topics.

Tip of the day, I guess? 🙂

Anyway, I’ve noticed that “eating disorders” is actually listed as a form of anxiety, which I would have balked at before I started recovery, but it’s amazing how true it is! Whenever I’m in a high-pressure situation for a sustained amount of time, I either want to binge or starve, depending on where my mind is at that time. Thinking of it this way, as anxiety, minimizes the problem to me in a good way.

This might not speak to everyone, but for me, it’s helping.

If I can think of my eating disorder as being in the same category as my OCD or social anxiety, then it just feels like another little annoying thing that I can overcome. It feels like something I can take a few deep breaths through, something that will wane after a few days of yoga and good sleep. 

I tend to think of my eating disorder as this monster or demon that terrorizes me because that’s how it felt for so many years. I think a big part of my recovery is learning to take away its power over me. If I just think, “Oh, this is just me feeling anxious,” it makes it seem like a little annoying mouse instead.

Don’t get me wrong- my anxiety can wreck me sometimes. I definitely have days of not wanting to leave the house or having panic attacks, but it’s something I’ve recognized in myself since I was a kid, so I’ve had a couple of decades to work out how to cope pretty effectively. I did not want my anxiety to rob me of my life, and I worked really hard to learn to manage it.

An eating disorder always felt like yet another thing to learn to manage, but really, it’s the same. The biggest lesson I keep learning is that the same things help me with my depression, my anxiety, and my eating disorder. They are all pieces of the same pie. I have to work out. I have to get enough sleep. I have to have the right balance of introvert time. I have to eat enough healthy food. I have to work through my feelings as they come up. I have to journal or blog. I have to meditate and do yoga. I have to get outside and get sunshine. I have to remember to breathe.

All different sides of the same coin.

I don’t mean any of this post to oversimplify these issues or to minimize the pain or struggle people go through who are affected by mental illness. It’s simply an honest message about where I am in my journey. I want to write this down and remember this feeling when I need it. I want every tool in my belt to be ready for when these feelings hit me hard, or start to creep in.

Last night I had a pretty huge breakthrough about a certain member of my family who has recently caused me a lot of pain. Someone I’ve idolized since I was little, who has seemed to purposely pull away from me in almost every way, and it hurts a lot. I really haven’t been able to face just how deeply it cuts. I finally addressed this issue out loud with my husband and my best friend from childhood, and talking through it, I realized how tied those feelings were to something even deeper- the loss of my grandfather a few years ago and my desire to fill the gaping hole he left in my world and in my heart.

Suddenly, today, I felt much calmer and more peaceful. I was even able to start the process of setting up my next photo shoot for new headshots, something that just a week ago made me want to starve myself for a month because I couldn’t stand how my body felt. Today, I feel pretty strong and beautiful.

Pain and anxiety. Emotional release. Fear of dealing with our feelings. This is all stuff that we have to get real about as human beings, but when you have any kind of mental health issues, it’s ten times as important, because all of this can trigger bigger problems.

Talk talk talk talk talk. Read. Learn. Prioritize yourself and your wellbeing.

I promise you, you are so incredibly worth it.

 

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