When you are struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating you often hear a voice in your head. That sounds scary….or to put it better, like a severe mental health issue. It’s not. When you are struggling with an eating disorder the voice you are hearing is the voice of your disorder. It’s the voice that tells you that you shouldn’t eat something because you are going to get fat. Or perhaps the voice that tells you that you are disgusting and have no self-control because you just ate lunch. It is also the voice that dictates the food you should eat when you are on a binge. The one that tells you to keep eating when you are full, either as a way to completely numb the pain or because you are going to purge anyways.
This voice is not you. The real you is the healthy side of you that feels sad or disappointed or scared by your eating disorder. It’s the side of you that really wants to recover and to stop having this toxic battle. One of the most important things you can do when struggling with an eating disorder is separate the real you from your eating disorder. Don’t confuse them as the same thing. They aren’t. To begin, start becoming aware of your thoughts. Stop just accepting them for what they are and instead challenge them by asking yourself whether these thoughts are healthy and constructive or toxic and destructive. When they are healthy, acknowledge them and praise yourself for accessing your healthy side. When they are toxic give them a name. Some of the more common names are Ed (for Eating Disorder), Ana (for anorexia) and Mia (for bulimia).
The reason for giving it a name is so you can treat it like the abusive “other” that it is. I know in a lot of ways this sounds crazy and that the idea of naming and talking to the voice in your head makes you feel crazy but I assure you it isn’t. It is one of the fundamental steps in overcoming any eating disorder. As long as you see you and your eating disorder as one, you will constantly see yourself as faulty and undeserving. In truth it is the eating disorder that tells you these destructive falsities and you deserve to stand up to it.
Every person has a healthy side of their brain and a destructive side. Align yourself with the healthy side and it will grow stronger which will give you the strength to free yourself from your painful relationship with your eating disorder.