The Mixed Messages of Eating Disorders
Posted August 22, 2011

Mixed messages.  Definitions include:

  • An unclear message; usually two contradicting messages.
  • A communication that is contradictory or inconsistent.

Eating disorders are champions at sending mixed messages, at creating havoc, but those aren’t the mixed messages I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the emails and Facebook messages I receive every day. From people struggling, feeling hopeless, seeing only darkness, feeling ED’s grip tighten.  I can feel the despair as they write:

  • “I’m struggling….”
  • “No matter how hard I try I get nowhere….”
  •  “How is it I can help others with ED but not myself?”

And then I get messages that read like poetry, from people in recovery who write:

  • “It’s been a very long road and there were many years in which I wanted to give up, but now at 32, I am healthy.”
  • “Yesterday was my 1 year of being in recovery.  I struggled 11 years…and never made it more than 2 weeks without behaviors.  I am living my ‘someday’.”
  •  “Bulimia made me feel hopeless.  And now I feel hope and wish I could tell every single person who is afflicted and terribly burdened by an eating disorder that there is a way out of that dark hole.”
  • “I struggled with anorexia and bulimia in my later teens and early 20s before making a full recovery.”

What causes these mixed messages? What allows some people the strength to battle their way through the ups and downs of the long road to recovery?  I’m certain all of them felt the same despair at times.  But what kept them going?  What kept them fighting? There’s no single answer, no one path, I wish it were that simple.

When you’re in the grip of ED, in and out of treatment, seeing others relapsing, taking two steps forward and one step back, it feels impossible to believe anyone truly recovers.  But people do.  All the time.

To those of you in recovery:  what can you share with those still struggling? What kept you going when it seemed impossible? What was your motivation, your inspiration? What are you doing in your life that you never thought possible when ED controlled you?

Please share your experiences with those still struggling.

~ Judy

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  • Jenn

    One thing I wished I knew in my deepest point of sickness was there IS hope. I know it seems daunting when other girls talk about falling again, but the reality is there is so many people that DO recover. It’s all about making choices. Every small step leads to the big path, and it’s every person’s choice on whether they want that path to be focused on recovery or on sickness. In the depths of an eating disorder, it’s hard to see that you can say no to ED and have any control over it, but ultimately ED has NO power, except what you let it have. I am excited to be celebrating even just 6 months in full recovery. It hasn’t been easy, but my worst day in recovery in ten times better than my “best” day with ED!

    • Judy Avrin

      Jenn, thank you for sharing this powerful message. It should be shouted from the rooftops! ~ Judy