a nervous lady eating

How To Conquer Anorexia and Self-Loathing

I’m on the New Jersey Transit on my way to New York City and my head is lolling back and forth so much, seemingly by its own will, that I’m afraid it might snap off and roll down the aisle if the train stops suddenly. I recently got back from Princeton, where I was leading a workshop there. Prior to it, I had been in Philadelphia as well as Massachusetts. I’m exhausted. My brain is exhausted. My head is heavier than usual, and the electric sensation in my brain makes it feel as if there is a fire within.

When I’m this exhausted, my mind wanders to the things that are simple. My longtime friend from childhood and I were catching up yesterday on the phone, and she mentioned something to me about how we tend to look for pleasure when we are under stress. When I’m under a lot of pressure, I do have a bad habit of drinking a little too much wine, but more than that, I look for things to criticise. When I’m under a lot of stress, I have a tendency to find fault in others.

When I am tired or stressed, I revert back to old “easy” patterns. Patterns like “I’m so fat.” “I look gross.” I hate myself.” B.S. all of it. But I survived on those patterns, they are what sailed me through years of my life. When I am tired I revert. It’s the easier thing to do because really, who wants to “work” when they are bone tired and exhausted to the core? Not me.

But I must. I lead workshops around the world. I have many readers on my blog. All of these people are looking to me.

Yea, and?…

It’s not them I must do the work for (although I do feel some sense of responsibility to be the best version of myself I can be.) I must do the work for myself. For my own sanity and happiness. I cannot get by on air anymore.

When I am over tired and the voices from my past start to loom, I must simply take a break. Literally slow it down. Wallowing in my own suckery (my latest made up Jen-ism) is something I refuse to do anymore. (Did it all through my 20’s and it was awful.)

I close my eyes on the train and rest. When I open them I see a little girl wearing glitter boots and a princess tiara and I wonder if she has thought yet of the words, fat, ugly, gross.

I didn’t start my journey with anorexia until I was seventeen but I know that some girls get initiated into this belief system a lit earlier. I sent her a little imaginary fairy dust and wished only lovely words for her: magic, beautiful, capable.

How much we do to survive. The lengths we will go to make it through one more day without having our heads explode or roll down the aisle of a train.

I think a lot about what people do to survive in the world and how easy it is to judge them for it. I didn’t know how to deal with my grief over losing my father so young so starved my pain out. I hated myself because hating him wasn’t bringing him back into the world.

I recently found an old journal entry which made me stop breathing as I read it. Pages and pages of the same types of sentences. All filled with self-loathing.

When I look through the old journal, I find that I have arrived at a set of train tracks. If I decide to cross them, it will take me back to the dusty town in which I used to live, where the nights were spent pressing my ribs to make sure they still protruded and the days were spent with heavy eyelids from a lack of sleep. If I make the decision to go across the tracks, I will be able to return to the desolate land of self-abuse and hatred, which has a county jail that is occupied by just one person: me.

If I choose to cross the tracks I will meet again with the devil and shake his hand firmly, look him square in the eye and say politely: **** Off.

Consequently, here I am. I have arrived at a set of railroad tracks, and I want to cross them in order to return to that dusty small hamlet and retrieve the things that I left behind there. So that I may continue to develop and broaden my horizons, and share with others what is actually possible in terms of healing and finding new things.

Read also: Must Read Books When You Are Recovering From Eating Disorder

What anorexic means?

Anorexic means having an eating disorder that causes someone to obsess about weight and limit themselves to very small amounts of food. Anorexia is an eating disorder that can have serious consequences if left untreated. Individuals with anorexia have an intense fear of gaining weight and will often go to great lengths to avoid doing so.

This may include severe restriction of food intake, excessive exercise, and/or purging behaviors. Anorexia can have a profound impact on an individual’s physical and mental health, and can even be deadly. If you or someone you know is struggling with anorexia, please seek professional help.

Read also: Everything You Need To Know About Intuitive Eating

Why I share this

I share because I think it’s important to see me now, not as someone who is perfect (far from it) but rather as someone who chosen to be here fully. Someone who made it out alive to the other side.

That’s not to say the journey is always easy. Some days it’s hard. I forget to breathe or I have to avoid mirrors. But mostly, I am doing okay in the world. I have learned to feel what I need to feel instead of avoiding it or starving it to death. I try and teach or share what I have learned along the way as best as I can.

People have an illusion sometimes that when you “heal” things miraculously disappear for good. That’s not been true for me, or most people I know. It’s a process. A one foot in front of the other, one breath at a time, today I am going to love myself process.

So I am here on the train watching this little girl rest her head in her mother’s lap. She looks safe and content, so much so that I start to feel that way as well. I focus on my breathing (basically that I am remembering to breathe) and my head feels like it’s no longer about to decapitate.

I’m a big advocate of safety. I like to feel safe. I seek out situations and people that make me feel safe, to a fault.

It’s going to be okay. Everything is going to be alright. The words buried under my tongue like little hopefuls. They are always there, waiting in the wings. It’s going to be okay. Don’t worry in my mouth, fraying in the back of my throat, choking in my spit. It’s going to be alright buried in my gums.

So I say them to myself out loud there on The New Jersey Transit, Everything is going to be alright. It’s going to be okay. And I think the little girl in the princess tiara hears me because she lifts her head up from her mother’s lap and smiles at me.