I developed anorexia about five years ago. At that time my body weight plummeted. A lot of people noticed, and I was taken out of school until I was able to get my weight back up.
Since then I've maintained a relatively normal weight, at least within the range of what is considered normal. However, the mental side of the illness is still there. I still worry about getting fat, eating too much, etc.
I don't know how to treat this mental side. It's really hurting me because it's ruined my personal life. My poor body image makes it unbearable to be touched, so a serious boyfriend is impossible. Even dating is a struggle. I'm terrified of letting my guard down and being myself around other people. SO basically I feel like I've got help for the physical side, but the root cause has never been weeded out. How do I get my self confidence back? I know that until I take care of this self-hate thing I'll never be cured and I'll never be able to have a normal life.
lara71- I am glad that you are in a healthier weight range, as being on one end or the other can put yourself at great risk for medical problems. In my experience, conquering the mental side of the illness was much harder, and the root of the eating disorder. I tried to do it alone for a number of years, but eventually sought counseling. When I did seek treatment I was not underweight (a lie that I believed was that the ED was not bad enough to get help because I was not "thin" enough or "bad" enough-this was a lie) Ignoring the thoughts of the ED, for me, resulted in guilt, shame, not knowing who I was without ED, and dislike for myself. Only when I faced these thoughts, did things start to change. Facing the truth and changing yourself is hard work, but it is well worth it!
I encourage you to get help-whether it be starting with counseling, or a support group. You are worth getting help and can have a normal life that doesn't revolve around the negative thinking! May the New Year bring new changes for you!
It is completely normal that even though you have gained the weight back, you still struggle with the mental agony of the illness. Your mind is where the illness manifests and then produces physical symptoms. Therefore even though you may have gained your weight back, you still have the mental struggle to deal with. I am also recovering from a 10 year battle with both anorexia and bulimia and it literally took a physical injury before it clicked in my mind that I needed to get help. It amazes how the ED completely takes over the mind..your every thought is based around food, weight, guilt, shame, anxiety and the fear of getting fat. I went through counseling 8 years ago for anorexia and at that time it was either counseling or inpatient and I certainly didn't want to go inpatient so I agreed to counseling. After about a year I gained weight back and was doing much better but the voice was still there, not nearly as bad, but it was still there waiting for me to give in again. I did pretty good for about a year after that and then after a emotionally devastating letdown I started purging and didn't stop until July of last year after, as I said, a physical injury made me have to stop. I separated several of my ribs and was told it would be 9-12 months before I would be healed..meaning no more purging as the pain was excruciating. My ED decided for me right then that if I couldn't get rid of everything I ate well then it meant I couldn't eat. It took about 3 months of that and it finally clicked in me after a drastic weight loss and constant comments about how I was "too thin" and "pasty", had no energy and pretty much looked like crap that I realized I had to get help. Up until then my only reason for getting better was so I could go back to my old ways of restricting, binging and purging.
I researched and was fortunate enough to find a local eating disorder program with a mentor and clinical dietician. It is honestly the best thing I have ever done. I started in November of last year so I am just 2 months in but I have already noticed a huge different in my confidence…something that I have struggled with for pretty much my entire life. I am finding that strength within me that I know you have too. You can do this.
From what I have learned in my experience and research in the last several years is that it is normal that gaining the weight back is the first goal. When you starve your body, you starve your mind. The more you starve your mind the louder the ED voice gets. Also a lot of times it is medically necessary to gain the weight back first. I know it is scary to let your guard down and be yourself but the more you can do that the more you will see how much people like you for who you are. If you can find a mentor or counselor that you can really connect with, that will help tremendously as well. Even if you can just find someone to talk to that has been through and beat an eating disorder themselves to see how they dealt with the mental side of this unbearable illness. You deserve a good life. You deserve to be confident and hold your head high and be able to be who you are without feeling bad or ashamed of it. I hope you will be able to take anything I have said to use. I wish you the very best of luck and remember you are not alone, you can always find someone to talk to on here if ever needed.