The Dress

If you are recovering from anorexia, today’s post may not be particularly helpful for you. I write about how I struggle to keep myself motivated. It’s a very real fight that I do not always win. Please remember that despite what I write in this post, I do believe that recovery is possible. Keep fighting!

Exciting news! I bought The Dress for my PhD defence. A black lace dress, classic, simple, chic, in which I will defend my thesis on 14 December. Unfortunately, beauty has a price. Seeing that dress so elegantly draped around the ultra-skinny shoulders of my mannequin, I kind of, er, decided to stop eating again.

Of course, it’s unfair to blame my latest anorexic breakdown on a dress. I’ve been craving to loose weight every single day of the past seven years. Despite maintaining a healthy weight, there has not been a single day on which I felt comfortable in my own skin. There were only two episodes in which the urge was so strong I couldn’t resist. Both times ended with me being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Some women with anorexia describe a gradual process of eating less sugar, then skipping some snacks, then skipping meals, etc.; almost unknowingly they glide back into their dangerous anorexic habits. Not so for me. I consciously allow myself to plunge back in my anorexia, knowingly embracing all my sick anorexic tricks again.

Why do I normally resist, but now decided to let go? The pressure had been building up for quite some time. In fact, I repeatedly tried to stop eating in the past few weeks and failed. Now I think ‘let’s get it right this time’. I’ve thought that many times before as well though. But this time, I have The Dress. In three weeks time, I need to look pretty in my dress. Three weeks is not long; I won’t end up in hospital in only three weeks. Ana minus five kilos is not in any danger, health-wise. And don’t we all want to look skinny on special occasions?

What do you do in these situations as an anorexic who now has a healthy weight? In therapy they teach you to, in times like these, ask yourself why it is you want to loose weight now. They look for answers like ‘because I feel stressed’ or ‘because I feel I’m losing control’ or ‘because I feel depressed’. But I just want to loose weight. I guess that means my anorexia is just anorexia, not the result of some other underlying problem that I could tackle in therapy. And if there’s nothing to tackle, aren’t my chances of recovery nihil anyway? And if that’s true, why not shed some pounds? My therapist once asked “Why do you keep eating, if you want to loose weight so badly? What keeps you from doing it?” My answer: “Hunger”. Last night I realised that if hunger is the only reason, I have nothing to loose. I’ve beaten hunger before.

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