Anorexia is a sneaky disease. It will take you, and it will own you. It will erode your self-trust. It will erode your self-esteem. It will erode your sanity. It will twist the words of those around you, turning wisdom into toxicity.
Have you heard the saying, Less is more? If you speak the English language, I will assume you have. On one hand, this is good advice. It encourages us to keep things simple. Don’t overthink. Don’t overwork. Don’t overdo. It suggests that less is better for you – but that’s not always true.
Anorexia will hear “less is more” and apply it to your physical needs. It will apply it to body weight. It will apply it to calorie intake. It will justify unhealthy weight loss and unhealthy restriction of calories. “Society tells me less is more, so I’m going to eat less food.”
When giving advice, especially to someone with an eating disorder, we must choose our words with carefully. We must discern what the situation calls for. “Less is more” works well when applied to stress and chaos but works poorly when applied to nourishment.
I applied “less is more” to nourishment, but I didn’t get more. I got less. Less “fat,” sure, but also less muscle. Less bone. Less fertility. Less energy. Less drive.
I didn’t need less. I needed more. And it took a lot to help me see that.
On my second day of treatment, I had a meltdown. A recovery coach asked me what I liked to do. I told her, “theatre.” She asked me why I wasn’t doing it. I told her, “this.” This, meaning my eating disorder. I told her about my food philosophy. She asked me where it got me. I told her, “here.”
I needed a new mantra. She helped me find one. “Don’t think of this as gaining weight,” she said. “Think of it as gaining more of you.”
An acting coach of mine once said, “These are tools. You have a whole box of tools. One tool might work for you today; another tool might work for you tomorrow. One tool might work for you for ten years and suddenly stop. That’s okay. You have plenty of tools. Find what works for this moment.”
I love hearing recovery in unexpected places. She was talking about acting techniques, but it applied to my relationship with food. Our needs are fluid. Each moment calls for something specific. Sometimes a moment calls for less, sometimes a moment calls for more.
If you have anorexia, chances are you need some more. More food. More nourishment. More self-love. I did, and I fought that for a while, but when I finally honored it, I got so much more.