Tag Archives: eating disorder

#TakeCare – When It Feels Impossible

For the longest time, the idea of taking care of myself was an anathema to me.

I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do something nice for me – and I found it acutely painful when someone reached out with an act of care or words of comfort.

I just didn’t feel I deserved it.

I didn’t feel I deserved to be liked – and I certainly didn’t deserve the luxury of eating or taking care of myself.

The hatred I had towards myself and my body was unlike I’d ever experienced – it was visceral and violent. And the only way I could manage the intense feelings was by cutting myself or making myself sick.

Both the self-harm and eating disorder served the same function – to manage the unmanageable – to make the mysterious emotional pain, tangible.

I used to wonder, as I watched the scars heal, whether something inside me could be healing in tandem.

It was bundle of contradictions, even then.

I was consumed with shame – but the only way I knew how to deal with the shame was to hurt myself.

I believed God forgives sins – but I couldn’t count myself among the forgiven.

And then, still in the depths of self-destruction, I went to Bible College.

Before I went, I made a strange decision to be myself. I decided I wasn’t going to hide behind a facade – but be honest about who I was and how I was feeling. I fully expected to be hated and disliked. I’d convinced myself that those who loved me did so out of duty.

The problem was, people welcomed me, they became my closest friends.

It turned my worldview on its head.

And yet I still lived under my own tyranny.

Until eventually, I began to loosen my grip on my self-destruction and cereal eating.

With the support and encouragement of my friends, I began to take care of myself.

Small ways at first; making sure I got out in the fresh air once a day, eating more in small increments.

The small increments grew; I started to eat more healthily, exercise gently.

It took a long time to get anywhere near something which looks like recovery, the thoughts have remained, but life became a better option than death.

Quite simply, I let the community around me love me back to life.

As they cared for me; drying my tears and  encouraging my faltering steps, I began to take care of myself.

I glimpsed something of a God who cared more than I could imagine through the acts of care I received from my friends.

And so this week in particular, I want to encourage you, reading these words, to take care of those around you who are struggling.

And to those of you who are struggling – hold on – and let those who love you take care of you.

For more information on self harm and where to get help- check out http://www.selfharm.co.uk

UThis post first featured on //www.threadsuk.com

Beyond The Scales – Guest Blog by Emma Scrivener #TakeCare

Eating disorders are about more than just weight. They’re about control, perfectionism, boundaries, families and emotions. They represent a way of thinking and relating, both to yourself and to others. Recovery therefore, isn’t just a matter of BMI. It means challenging long-held beliefs – e.g; that life can be seen in terms of black and white. That emotions are bad and sharing them makes you a ‘burden’. That control means safety.

Anorexics for example, are often far more focused on making plans, getting things right and getting things perfect, than other people. They find it difficult to live in the moment or let go of mistakes. They can quickly become obsessive and value routine and familiarity. They often have very little sense of self and look to others for affirmation and identity. In some cases their eating disorder is what gives them identity – they want to be free of it, but are terrified of or unable to imagine who they are without it.

I was first diagnosed with anorexia when I was about 13 and struggled with it for the next four or five years. Although by 18 I’d recovered physically, I found that psychologically I was at the same stage as I’d been when the disorder began. My emotional development had been frozen.

For me, anorexia worked by sublimating other fears into the desire to be thin. But instead of dealing with those fears, it just smothered them temporarily. As my eating habits normalised, they resurfaced. Getting better meant facing them and covering the emotional ground I’d lost. That was just as scary as gaining weight – but much more difficult to explain. I looked better – and older – on the outside. But internally, the emotional battle was just beginning.

From the outside, though, what was everyone thinking? Phew! I’m so glad all those difficult struggles are over. The scales are right, everything’s fixed.

Can you see a problem here?

 

Emma Scrivener was born in Belfast, but now lives with her husband and daughter in the south east of England. She suffered from life-threatening anorexia, both as a child and as an adult. She now writes and speaks about her experiences and how the grace of Christ speaks in the darkest places. Emma blogs at emmascrivener.net and her book, ‘A New Name’ is published by IVP.