“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?’” Matthew 6:27
Why do I let fear and worry torment me, I constantly ask myself—it’s not like worrying will make it happen, after all! “What we worry about frequently never happens anyway, and if it is going to happen, worrying won’t prevent it. God’s Word promises us that He will take care of us if we trust in Him” (Joyce Meyer). I remember a time when I was so paralyzed by fear I couldn’t even lift a spoon to my mouth and feed myself—the very requirement of living and breathing—and so admitted myself to the Cleveland Clinic so they could feed me. The guilt and shame tormented me with every bite but without it I wouldn’t survive. In my mind I was “fat”, even though bones protruded through my skin and lanugo covered my poor, failing body in attempts to maintain a normal or even below normal core body temperature. One of the craziest things about Anorexia is body dysmorphia, where one cannot see oneself accurately. According to the Mayo Clinic, “body dysmorphic disorder is a mental disorder in which you can't stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that, to others, is either minor or not observable”. “They can't control their negative thoughts and don't believe people who tell them that they look fine; their thoughts may cause severe emotional distress and interfere with their daily functioning; they may miss work or school, avoid social situations and isolate themselves, even from family and friends, because they fear others will notice their flaws” (ADAA). How could something so seemingly small and insignificant become alarmingly powerful and lead to life-threatening actions? I’ve come to realize that because I suffer from this disorder, as well as perfectionism, I will never be satisfied with myself; the number on the scale is NEVER low enough until death occurs, which never seems to be a possibility in the moment.
Many times I’ve tasted death and come too close for comfort; truly, I have been told by many doctors, it is a miracle I am still living and breathing, with no or minimal damage to my severely abused and tortured body. Days on end without eating and relying on coffee to disguise or numb the agonizing and piercing hunger pains relentlessly churning within me brought me comfort and became the very existence of normal life. Fear of passing out and the world becoming aware of my deepest darkest secret—starvation—paralyzed each moment, afraid someone would force me to consume but even a single calorie. In my mind, this was the worst possibility. No, this is not living but instead the exact representation of death; yes, it was in fact like living within the depths of hell, surrounded by torture and piercing life-stealing screams.
The day I was told I had to go back to COPE, my worst nightmare, I remember crying out to God in adamant anger; why would He allow such a thing? COPE, or Center for Overcoming Problem Eating in Pittsburgh, took away every inch of control, forcing me to eat whatever was served on my plate no matter how scary or seemingly impossible it may appear. The scariest of foods, including tantalizing and rich chocolate cake, buttery French toast, greasy pizza and cheeseburgers, to name a few, left me in excruciating torment, convinced I would not survive even one bite without blowing up. Each day, every meal and snack, I had to set aside my tortuous fears and find the strength within me to not just take one bite but finish each life-threatening calorie. How could one so malnourished and near death’s door be so violently afraid of the single thing that would bring life and prevent death? No, I have not yet come to a conclusion of why these things occur, but I know how real they all seem!
Never did I expect life in recovery to be so difficult, but I must remember that nothing worth having comes easy. Since coming home, I have been struggling to consume enough calories to prevent dropping weight, which is a problem due to my upcoming surgery in which I am expected to lose weight. I am SO incredibly excited to finally, after four years of waiting, be getting surgery, but also nervous because I must completely change the way I eat and face many fears; I’m used to a high fiber, low calorie diet but now must maintain a low fiber, high calorie diet to prevent recurrence of my prolapse. No, this will not be easy, but God will get me through, I believe!