Topic Tuesday: Recovery
“Not Sick Enough” (By: Sarah Bailes)
“Not sick enough.”
Oh, the lie that our eating disorders still try to push on us even during recovery.
They say that the first lie your eating disorder ever tells you is that you aren’t sick, but I think it’s the last lie that it tells you too.
Your eating disorder wants to do anything to pull you back. Your pain and insecurities are the very air that your eating disorder breathes. Without you, your eating disorder cannot survive. Your suffocation allows it to keep breathing. So as you slowly pull away from your eating disorder, it gets so scared. It knows that it won’t be able to live without you. So it tries to pull out the same old tricks that it told you while you were in the midst of your disorder, and if your eating disorder is anything like mine, it really loves the good ole, “You were never sick enough, so you can’t recover now. You have to be sicker in order to deserve recovery” excuse.
Yikes. That is my least favorite lie that my eating disorder has ever told me.
Every single time my mind begins to race and I think, “Ed is right! I never had an eating disorder anyways. I have to be sick so that I can truly deserve recovery.”
How can you recover from a disorder that you don’t even have?
That’s where we catch our eating disorders in their lies. They try to tell us that we were never sick so we don’t deserve recovery, but how on earth can you recover from something that doesn’t exist?
The fact that we have these thoughts prove that we have eating disorders. No person who is sick with the flu thinks to themselves, “Hm, well Joe over here has a higher fever than I do, so I obviously don’t have the flu.” NO! That would be so dumb. When we are sick with a physical illness, we don’t try to tell ourselves that we aren’t sick and that we have to get “sicker” before we can start taking our medicine. No, we begin taking medicine as soon as we start to get a sore throat or we start sniffling because we want to get well as soon as possible.
You will never be sick enough for your eating disorder.
There will never come a point in your disorder where your eating disorder looks at your body and says, “Well, my work here is done! You are officially sick enough, so you can proceed with all this recovery business now.”
No. To put it bluntly, the sickest eating disorder sufferer is dead.
Your eating disorder will not give up until you die. Only then will you ever be “sick enough.” YOU CANNOT PLEASE AN EATING DISORDER. It is impossible. It will continually push you and push you because either you beat your eating disorder or your eating disorder beats you.
“Not sick enough” thoughts are so hard. I’m in very solid recovery, but even now I sometimes get caught up on those thoughts. But I have to let them go. I put those thoughts on a metaphorical leaf and watch them float down a metaphorical stream. I can’t hold onto those thoughts because I cannot be in recovery while also trying to prove that I was sick enough.
You will never feel 100% ready to recover. You will never feel like you are sick enough. But you have to choose recovery anyways. Your eating disorder is not a choice, but recovery is. So choose it. It’s so hard, but it’d be a lot harder to live in your disorder for the rest of your life.
Next time your eating disorder tells you that you aren’t sick enough to recover, challenge that. Remember that it is not about how sick you are. It’s about how healthy and happy you can be in recovery.
About the Author
Sarah Bailes is a freshman in college studying social work. She plans to become an LCSW and work in treatment centers, or possibly do advocacy work for eating disorders. She is crazy in love with Jesus and hopes that her life continually points back to Him. In her free time, she is probably hanging out with friends, doing photography, making art, or crocheting. She loves Annie (the 2014 version is best), her dog, and ice cream. She is passionate about eating disorder recovery and loves to share her journey through Instagram!