Earlier this week there was devastating news about the death of a young woman from anorexia – an incredible young woman who was a valued member of the eating disorder recovery community I belong to. The new of Lilli’s death has affected me deeply & more than similar tragedies have in recent years.
I think this is partly due to the fact that going through recovery is waking emotions in me that I’d usually have blunted with the illness.
But there’s also more to it.
Lilli’s death made me think about how difficult we find it when we have an eating disorder to communicate our real needs & seek the help we are desperate for.
An eating disorder prevents us from acknowledging we need help, let alone seek, ask for or accept it when it’s offered.
An eating disorder makes us push people away, convincing everyone that we’re absolutely fine when we are far from it.
An eating disorder makes us believe we’re invincible & that we can go it alone -that we can recover in isolation.
It’s so sad, because then people don’t know or understand what we are really feeling inside -how desperate we really are, how alone we feel, how much we want others to help us eat & face our inner demons.
People believe the strong, capable & independent facade we act out with such skill.
For years, I pushed away help, fought off treatment, convinced the world I was fine & I would eat in my isolated world…
Yet the real me inside was terrified, wanted help & for people to see that the act was just an act & to help despite my screams & protests.
And, that makes me sad because I am sure Lilli & many others are the same -desperate for help but too terrified, too confused and consumed by a powerful illness to not only seek the help but then accept it.
Perhaps we need to make a guide for family members, friends & professionals of what we really mean when we say:
‘I’m fine’ = I am so far from fine as it’s possible to be.
‘I can recover without help’ = I desperately need help but I’m so terrified of the illness I don’t know which way to turn.
‘Leave me alone / f**k off!’ = PLEASE don’t go… don’t leave me in the ED’s grips.
‘I can’t eat that or I will eat later…’ = I am hungry but I’m scared…
A whimper for help…if we manage this things have become desperate.
What would you add to the list?