My patience is wearing particularly thin with a common self-help cliche- “Oh but that’s just the ‘anorexic voice’ telling you xyz…”
As if that little nugget of information solves everything…
Who cares who or what it is, it’s still there, alive and kicking, and it’s horrible!
I’m not sure why that’s made it as a thing to be honest.
I do see some merit in separating it as a “voice,” away from your own, but it’s quite a hard technique to master when you can’t see any evidence of this. After all, it’s inside your own brain…
Think of a dog. You’re thinking of a dog aren’t you? Can you see it running through fields? Or do you just see words I wonder…Well now I’m going to tell you that it doesn’t matter because it’s not really you thinking of a dog so just stop thinking about it…
But that doesn’t work does it because, erm, the dog is practically doing roly-polys now.
“But that’s just your brain telling you it’s a dog…”
This is exactly what’s stopping me recover…
It’s not a “voice” per se but it’s easier, and somewhat more poetic, to describe it that way so I’ll go with it..
When I have a meal in front of me, it’s almost automatic; it’s just there: “eat this amount of that.“
If I go past that, then: “I’m full, I’m full, I don’t need anymore…”
This becomes turbo charged down the sweet aisle in a supermarket: “Omgggg Terry’s chocolate orange! Lindt! I just want to start at one end and chomp until I get to the other!!!”
That, for me, is possibly the most frightening thought of all. It’s also one that is hardly ever verbalised or shared, even among those who are going through the same thing.
I can speak only for myself here, but I never admitted to this because I felt like I was the only one. I felt it revealed a weakness; I couldn’t resist these “treats” either so I was just like everyone else… I probably developed anorexia as a way of coping with all my other (perceived) failures and look at me now- can’t even do this right…
I did eventually confess this to my mum to see how horrified she would be; this fraudster who acts like she’s petrified of food, overeating and “being fat” but, really, thinks about those very things hourly.
Her, well intentioned, response was to stroke my hair and say “oh but sweetheart that’s the anorexic voice telling you that’s what you want- you don’t really…”
I’ll let you in to some other secrets…
I stayed back at my parents’ this weekend and my little sister has discovered, possibly the most inconvenient talent she could have at this moment; baking. This so called voice woke me up torturing me about having one for breakfast, “what if, what if, what if…”
And then the same after lunch, the same after dinner, the same until I did have one- because that is normal and acceptable- and yes, I think I enjoyed it…
But only momentarily as it felt all my fears were realised: I wanted more, more, more, more and to never, ever stop eating this chocolatey sticky work of genius.
There’s science behind this. I could reel it off in my sleep; your body is starving; you’ve deprived it for so long that of course it’s just going to want it’s own weight in anything it can get its hands on.
Don’t think about an elephant…
What are you thinking of? How hard do you have to work not to think about it now?
The reassurances that this isn’t real just do not cut it:
“But you will stop” – HOW?
“Anorexia is just trying to keep its hold of you” – HOW DO YOU KNOW?!
“It’s not real”– TRY TELLING THAT TO THE INSIDE OF MY BRAIN WHERE I CAN SEE MYSELF FACE DOWN IN A CHOCOLATE CAKE!!!!!
And then, something amazing happened this evening.
There is chocolate in my room from when my sister stayed in it with some friends. This voice has been telling me all weekend I want it, really want it.
I tried to “experiment” at first and test this theory. I had one and, typically, any enjoyment was ruined swiftly by thoughts of not wanting to stop.
When is this going to end?
This evening though, I tried it again…
I look at the bag and pause, expecting the same torture.
But, hang on, nothing happens…
I look away and look again because I’m not sure I quite believe this. I genuinely don’t want another. And I enjoyed it… What is this sorcery??
And then, this anorexic voice theory-thing makes a bit more sense. It’s kind of there when I really, really think about it but that’s exactly the difference; I have to dig pretty deep to find that irritating, smug chunter.
Usually, I have to dig to find my own “voice” and would have been at that for quite some time!
I think I understand what they mean: the anorexic voice has just taken over your own. Your brain and body are so physically exhausted from the constant battle of wanting vs restricting, there’s no wonder this is so loud it drowns out your own so you feel like it’s what you really want.
Before I get my pom-poms out, though, I will say this has happened before. My point is, while it feels so good to be seeing evidence that I’m not just going to become a food vacuum, I know that this may be short lived and tomorrow- or the next hour for that matter- could be very different. Might sound negative but there is no plain sailing with this journey.
But, hopefully, the next time I’m faced with this unshakeable, deafeningly loud feeling that I just don’t ever want to stop- which in turn encourages me to restrict and just generally makes me miserable- hopefully I will be able to cling on to moments like these and remember that my own voice IS in there somewhere and, yes, actually, not only do I LIKE chocolate and WANT it too… but not all the time.
And that’s fine.