Believing In Your Right To Recovery: Silencing The ED Voices
Today my doctor said to me, "You know, you deserve to be happy. You deserve to recover."
I sometimes question if I do deserve to recover. I'm not proud of some of the things I have done in life. I have not always been the kindest person. I have sometimes ignored people who needed me. I have put my husband and loved ones through years of anguish and fear as I slipped further and further into anorexia nervosa and failed at recovery many times.
I have made them cry as they thought that I could possibly die from my eating disorder. I blocked myself off from their fears and pleas, and continued to pursue thinness ruthlessly for years like a person possessed.
All of these things make me question my worth and if I deserve to recovery. But there's something more. My doctor, a wonderfully perceptive man even when I sometimes sit silently and dive back into the safety of my thoughts, said I have this space within my brain that allows the eating disorder to tell me that I do not deserve to be happy, healthy, and free.
This is so true, and I sometimes want to scream at the voices to stop and leave me alone.
Replacing The Eating Disorder Voices
He said I can retrain my brain, and make the eating disorder voices permanently leave.
It sounds like such freedom. It sounds like a miracle. It sounds like heaven.
How can I do this? He told me today it takes practice. I need to replace whatever bad thing the eating disorder voices say — You are fat...You are ugly...You are worthless...You don't deserve to recover — with positive messages.
It sounds so simple, but I know it will be very hard to replace some messages that have been floating around in my brain for decades even before I developed anorexia.
However, I gave it a try. I said to him, "I do deserve to recover. I do deserve to be happy."
It felt false at first. Like I was saying words just to please my doctor. But I know anything worthwhile takes practice, and this is definitely worth working on.
He had another suggestion. I told him when I was deep in anorexia, I kept charts of every bite of food and drink and how much I weighed. Each night I would fill out the food chart, and each morning I would climb on the scale first thing and then record my weight. Of course, the number never was right. It was never low enough. I was never thin enough. I could never be thin enough, because to be as thin as I wanted to be would have most likely killed me.
Anyway, he asked me if I kept charts of the good things people said about me and the wonderful things that happened in my life. I looked at him, smiled and said, "No." It never occurred to me to do something like that.
Then I remember one time last fall when one of my professors from graduate school said to me, "You have a rare gift." She was referring to my writing abilities, particularly in the area of creative non-fiction.
I was so touched by her words, so amazed that someone with a doctorate in English would say something like that to me, that I took two colorful index cards and carefully wrote: "'You have a rare gift.' 13 October 2010. From a teacher, mentor, and friend." I posted one in my study and the other on the mirror where I get ready for the day each morning.
We Do Deserve To Recover
"You have a rare gift." Why do I forget when people say nice things to me, or when I do nice things for other people? Why am I always so quick to think the worst of myself? My doctor said that is typical of many people with eating disorders, and that they often don't think they deserve to recover.
I plan to put his ideas into practice, and write down the nice things people say about me and the times I feel joy and wonder and freedom. I plan to change that place in my brain into a place that reinforces the best parts of me.
My doctor left me with these words: "You deserve to be free. And you will be."
Let us all believe that, because it's true each one of us deserves to recover. We are precious children of God, and He wants us to live full and abundant lives.
Let's finally silence the ED voices that have been hammering at us for so long.
Gambrel, A. (2011, July 8). Believing In Your Right To Recovery: Silencing The ED Voices, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 29 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivinged/2011/07/believing-in-your-right-to-recovery-silencing-the-ed-voices
Author: Angela E. Gambrel
Thank you for writing. You do deserve to be free of anorexia. Keep telling yourself that. I still have to tell myself that at times, too. But we are more than anorexia. We are ourselves - our hopes and dreams and accomplishments, and are unique and wonderful. Keep fighting!
And thank you for your kind words! :)
I am currently in recovery from Anorexia, although I find it difficult to even contemplate that I really am and have been suffering from this all-consuming illness.
It takes over your life so powerfully and without realising it you can quickly become swallowed and defined by it. I am finding it difficult to realise now that I am worthy of a recovery, but I get rare moments when something in my mind lets go and I hear myself say, "it's ok, you've suffered long enough, you deserve to be free now". I am trying to cling to those moments, those quiet words that prove to me my recovery is happening (all be it a slow and painful struggle) . I am going to remember them and use them to fight.
I am no longer going to be defined by this disorder and I am going to silence the voices. Because the world is truly out there and I cannot hide behind it any longer.
I found your blogs today and have to say, they have been very motivational and touching. Thank you and well done with everything you have achieved. You are an inspiration
A lovely article. You, and all of us with vicious inner-critics, deserve to be happy. The trick is, as you mention, is to retrain the brain to interrupt the negative "tape" that runs through our minds. What a great idea: to keep a log of the good things said about us and the thoughtful things we do! One little thing i do and tell others I talk to about this is to imagine a big red button--only mine says STOP! instead of EASY! It doesn't always work but coupled with a compliment log it might just be more successful.