I’ve suffered from anorexia for as long as I can remember. Eleven months ago, after denying for months that I was unhealthy, I finally chose recovery. It’s been a whirlwind year of therapists, nutritionists and doctors, and I’d be lying through my teeth if I said it’s been easy.
Recovering from an eating disorder is hard. Not only do you have to teach yourself how to eat, you also have to teach yourself how to live. You have to be completely reintroduced to yourself.
You’re forced to realize things about yourself and your personality that are crucial to the recovery process.
The following personality traits are common of many eating disorder sufferers, and they’re traits I never fully realized I had until I began therapy.
I’m driven by perfection
Without trying, I have always set very high standards for myself. I’ve created nearly unattainable goals and punished myself for failing to meet them.
This passion for perfection has been beneficial when it comes to my professional and educational success, but incredibly detrimental to my health.
It started with wanting to follow the perfect diet with the perfect nutritional ratio. I found the perfect workout routine that would burn the perfect amount of calories. In my eyes, I started to look perfect.
The need for perfection took complete control over me, and it wasn’t long before it started to kill me.
I need to be in control
As a college student, there’s a lot of things I feel I cannot control. I can’t control how hard my professors grade, which companies choose to call me back for a second interview or if all of my exams happen to be scheduled for the same day.
The lack of control over my everyday life brought about a lot of anxiety and caused me to take complete control over every other aspect of my life.
Something I felt I could always control was my diet. I could control exactly how many calories I was ingesting and how many calories I was burning.
Before I was too weak to workout, I would stay on the treadmill or stair machine until I burned nearly four times the amount of calories I would ingest that day. I had all of the power, and it felt great.
I felt little inside, and it reflected through my appearance
Trying to figure out the future has been very difficult for me. As an aspiring public relations professional, having a variety of internships listed on my résumé is crucial. It’s getting those internships that is the hard part.
I’ve been turned away by more companies than you could imagine and constantly felt belittled.
Feeling little on the inside directly reflected how I looked on the outside. I was withering away, but it seemed justifiable because I felt so unimportant that I didn’t deserve to take up so much space.
I lack self-confidence
I’ve never been the pretty friend. I’ve never been the friend that gets all the guys. I’m not the girl who all the girls desire to be, or the one with whom all the boys desire to be.
I don’t have a closet full of expensive clothes. I don’t drive a nice car; my hair never lays right, and I don’t think I’ve ever broken 100 Instagram likes.
Do any of those things matter? I used to think so. I used to let those things beat me down and make me feel worthless. All of those negative thoughts about myself fed my eating disorder and helped it thrive.
I fear being criticized
More times than not, I feel as if I’m living to make other people happy instead of myself. I want to do everything in my power to make sure I’ve met the needs and wishes of everyone around me.
I may pretend I don’t care what others think about me, but it’s far from the truth.
I don’t want to be the girl people are embarrassed to be seen with in public. I don’t want to be the girl in the hideous clothes, or the pants that don’t fit. I don’t want to be the girl with the ugly hairstyle that doesn’t know how to do her makeup.
This fear of being criticized by those around me was very dangerous for my physical and emotional health, and it’s something I still have to work on every day.
Knowing the personality traits that feed my eating disorder has been very helpful in my recovery. For someone with anorexia, taking a step back and analyzing your negative mental state is an uncomfortable task.
It’s not easy to admit you have a mental illness. It’s not easy to agree to get help. It’s not easy to try to recover when it feels like nobody else understands. It’s not easy to regain control of your body. But, it’s necessary.
Picture Credit: Michael Seleski