Labeled

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While I completely appreciate all of the concerned comments I’ve gotten on and off the internet about my statement giving up junk food in my last post Ten Questions, this is something I have been thinking about lately, and the responses to that post helped me decide to put this up.

Throughout recovery I have been told not to let my disorder define me; that I am not “anorexic” but rather it is a part of me. That I am just a person with an eating disorder, but also so much more than that; that the ED is just a little part of me, and it does not decide who I am. Okay, I didn’t completely agree with that right away. At the time three years ago I thought, well my ED does control a lot of my life, but I get that I am still a person outside of the disorder.

Apparently, this is only true for the one suffering with the disorder. Everyone else on the outside, once they find out I have an eating disorder, has the right to decide that that is all that I am. If I do anything regarding my health, my weight, my physical being, it is only because I am anorexic. I can’t start lifting heavier weights and increasing my mile time, because that’s just me being anorexic and obsessing. I can’t cut out junk food to be healthy; that’s just me giving into my ED. I can’t run when it’s raining because that’s crazy and only disordered, obsessed people run in bad weather. I can’t do all these things without people getting concerned, or angry with me because I have been labeled “Anorexic”. Runners train in all kinds of weather. Lifting heavy weights and increasing your mile time is a good thing for “normal” people. Cutting out junk food is encouraged.

Unless you’re anorexic.

Take my little brother for example. We’re six years apart, but he is now half an inch taller than me, and he currently weighs what I did when they decided I needed to go to the hospital and start my recovery. My brother is joining track next week, so he needed to go in for a physical. Do you know what they said to him about his weight?

“Being underweight is better than being overweight. It’s nothing to worry about.”

I wanted to scream when I heard that. Because he isn’t label anorexic it’s completely okay for him to weigh so little, be skinnier than me, eat so little, join track, and do whatever the heck he wants. But if I wanted to join track and weighed that much that would not be okay. I wouldn’t be allowed to join unless I gained weight, and I would have to go to the doctor every week for a weigh in to make sure I was gaining steadily. Then, and only then, would they sign a release form to let me join track. All because my medical record says, “Anorexic.”

And I am sick of it. I am sick of this label that I’m told is not a label, but it sure as hell seems to me that it is. I am sick of people thinking that me wanting to become as strong and healthy as I can be is just my ED taking over. I am not cowering in the corner anymore while Ana runs my life. I am taking hold of my life, my body, and my future. Ana is the one in the corner now. Just because I’m giving up sweets, and lifting heavier, and running longer does not mean that I am giving in to my ED. It does not mean that I am restricting. It means that I am finally making more progress. It means that I am leaving my ED behind as I move forward with my life. I am going to get rid of this label and I am going to replace it with, “fit, healthy, and happy.”

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9 thoughts on “Labeled

  1. I see your point of view, and I actually agree with it a bit, but on the other hand, I would compare it to an alcoholic and what an alcoholic can/cannot do, or at least should/should not do. An alcoholic shouldn’t be hanging around bars, or old using friends, or trying to drink moderately. An anorectic shouldn’t be flirting with anorexic behaviors either, because every little thing can eventually lead to your relapse, even if it’s ten years down the road. I don’t believe that’s fair, however, because eating disorders aren’t as black and white as alcoholism. So if you are engaging in those behaviors, just be aware of your true intentions, and if you need support in order to stay strong in your recovery, I would encourage it.

    Sometimes with illnesses, whether physical or mental, we just can’t do what other, healthy people can. It’s something we must accept on some level.

    • I can see your point of view as well, and I do kind of agree, but I also think that there comes a time when people on the outside need to trust you instead of just jumping to the conclusion that you’re doing wrong.

  2. Sasha says:

    Oh my word, I totally agree. I feel SO lucky that I have the nutritionist I have. I’m vegan and refuse to eat junk food or anything else that is crappy for my healthy and/or wellbeing. Cutting out junk food is a positive regardless of disordered eating behavior. It means that at least a part of you cares about your life, assuming you are in the midst of the struggle. I mean, I understand the concept of disrupting the good food/bad food ideology so for that yeah, but once done, we have to make choices that will effect our health the rest of our lives and junk food doesn’t add in to having a longer healthier life.

    I am a firm believer in the “I have ____” rather than the “I am ____”. I originally dealt with that in my having bipolar. It causes a similar response in people. Mood swings are normal for everyone including bipolar people. Medication simply takes away the extremes and makes us like everyone else. But, if I am having a very bad day for some reason, the first question I get is “did you take your medication” or “are you feeling depressed/manic?” No, I’m just having a freaking bad day! With bipolar, we are not allowed to have mood swings and with anorexia we are not allowed to make food choices. Sigh……..

  3. I understand,and I apologize for my words on your last post.
    You know,I just want you to be happy,and if this is the way – go for it!
    Just make sure you’re smiling along the way. That is what really matters. 🙂

    • I totally appreciate your concern, really, so you don’t need to apologize. This was just a topic I’d been thinking about for a while.

  4. I agree 100% with what you say right here, “Apparently, this is only true for the one suffering with the disorder. Everyone else on the outside, once they find out I have an eating disorder, has the right to decide that that is all that I am.
    Although, I do see a point about addictions and relapse prevention. Having or having had anorexia is not what defines us. We are so much more than our eating disorders in all regards and people must see us for that or else no one will ever have the courage to get help.

  5. I agree with you completely here. It bugs me that people think me wanting to eat clean and workout every day are because I’m anorexic, instead of me just trying to be a healthier person. I hate how if someone is overweight or normal weight and makes the decision to exercise more or cut out junk food they’re praised for it but if someone is underweight or has a history of an eating disorder, they’re accused of going back to a disordered mindset! I’m lucky that my parents understand that my choice to be vegan was based on ethical and health concerns, not because I wanted an excuse to restrict. But it sucks that people don’t understand that we can be health-conscious without being eating disordered.

    • It was such a battle trying to convince my family that my choice to go veggie/vegan was for ethical and health reasons. I guess I forgot about that battle when I started this new thing. Being reminded of it makes me think that one day they will be okay with this new stuff. But, it is annoying that they aren’t now. It should be a good thing that we’re able to make these changes for health reasons. It should mean we’re better.

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