August 8, 2016

On Self Blame

I always say no one chooses an eating disorder, but a part of me definitely thinks it’s somehow ‘my fault’. I especially think it’s my fault for still being stuck with it at this stage. I know better, I should be able to do better. I am sure at least some people in my life think this too. I thought recovery would be relatively easy. That the reason it hadn’t happened so far is because I chose not to rather than couldn’t. Once I acknowledged to myself – and others – that actually, I’m not ok, I expected I’d just be able to drop the restriction, manage the guilt, the thoughts. I’ve discovered over the last few months that (even with great support from professionals, family and friends) it really doesn’t work like that. Recovery seems to be less about ‘letting go’ and more about wrestling your way out of something you’re so entangled in you have no real idea where you end and it begins.

Added to that, I despise myself for struggling with this and I anticipate judgement from others too. Especially because I do know some things about how to help other people. I try to balance this against the knowledge that I didn’t choose my brain, temperament, early experiences. I didn’t want this thing which for years has tormented me with guilt for eating, disgust towards my body, a general sense of not being ‘right’. I want the sense of control and ‘achievement’, but I don’t want the other stuff. I don’t want my life to be limited and I definitely don’t want the people I love to be affected.

Recovery is obviously emotionally demanding. But the niggling ‘I really should have known better’ heaps fuel on the fire. I know things intellectually, so I definitely should be able to sort myself out. I worry other people think this too and judge me for seeking help. I spent a long time trying to tackle this on my own. I found my way from a place when my weight was low enough to scare if not me then others, to a safer, if stuck place. I got myself far enough to continue my education, to work, to contribute, to function. I now wonder if I was unable, rather than unwilling, to make the changes I really wanted because my mind was still too confused by anorexia, layers of rules and guilt that made it difficult to see what the ‘right’ thing really was. It’s hard work protecting an eating disorder and holding everything else together too.

And asking for and accepting ‘help’, that’s tricky too. Because for many people, still-not-great-but-stable is huge progress. So why do I think I need or deserve better than that? Why do I think full recovery (full weight restoration) is ‘allowed’ for me, or even realistic? I also didn’t realise how much my eating disorder was protecting or holding out of my awareness. Now I’m more in touch with some of that ‘stuff’, and it makes me more anxious. So far, recovery (‘allowing’ myself more, weight gain) has made some things feel much more complicated rather than less so. Some of this is ‘just’ the process of recovery but some of it definitely isn’t. Maybe I’m still trying to control things but I’m not sure how not to or what would happen if I didn’t.

I really, really want to make this work. I have to get it right. I’m aware that this terror of getting recovery ‘wrong’ or not doing all I can to make the most of the help I have reflects the same pattern and in some ways doesn’t help. I have to keep reminding myself that when I approached my GP and asked for a referral, I made a clear decision to give recovery a real chance, and that means accepting the need for weight gain, and finding a way to deal with it. That also means sitting with the messiness of feelings and ‘life’. I also have to find a way to stop the self recrimination and channel my energy into fighting my eating disorder, instead of still half agreeing with it.

Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. Self blame is easy and its also a great tool for your eating disorder to use to help keep you stuck. Ed’s are sneaky, they find ways of keeping their claws in you, like getting you to focus on blaming yourself rather than fighting towards recovery. Recovery is difficult, it’s ups and downs but the eating disorder is not your fault. It’s an illness. You don’t blame yourself for getting a cold, so you shouldn’t blame yourself for this. Keep going x

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  2. “It’s hard work protecting an eating disorder and holding everything else together too” This summarises so many of my thoughts. It’s also hard work letting go of an eating disorder because (for me) it will no longer be a good reason for if I can’t hold everything else together. But I’ve tried it the ED way and it hasn’t worked, so I need to believe that stopping protecting it is the way forward. I’m also one of those ‘stable but not fully well’ people, and have been for long periods. It’s almost worse than being in the thick of it at times so I am fighting for full recovery, even if it means feeling guilty for all the help I need. I work in healthcare too and I would never judge my clients for needing my help- so why would I judge myself? There is no need to blame yourself, no need to feel bad for fighting for your life (a complete life)- you deserve full recovery, but only you can convince yourself of that. Keep on keeping on. x

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    • Thank you. I agree – I’d never, ever judge a client and actually have the greatest respect for some of the people I work with, they demonstrate huge strength and resilience. Also agree that in some ways stable but not really well is very difficult because it allows you to dismiss so much. Good luck with your continued progress – I’m sure you can do it and you most definitely deserve a full and free life 🙂

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  3. As an outsider, it sounds to me as though you’re doing incredibly well so don’t be so tough on yourself! Recovery takes a long time and it isn’t a linear process. There will be setbacks and things which are harder to achieve than you thought they would be and things which you maybe won’t quite ever achieve (because nobody can do everything perfectly all the time)…but just look at the overall picture of where you are now compared with when you were at your lowest/worst.

    You are probably worrying unnecessarily about what people think and that they believe you “should be able to sort [yourself] out”. Firstly, I imagine most people will admire then fact you have taken these very difficult steps in the first place! Secondly, like Hejyork said, nobody would think negatively if you sought professional help to sort out a physical problem, so why should they think that about a mental problem? If anyone does think that, then it says a hell of a lot more about them than it does about you!x

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    • Thank you. I probably am worrying unnecessarily and you are definitely right that I would not judge someone so perhaps I need to challenge the double standards. Thank you for taking the time to comment 🙂

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About Little_Em

www.progressnotperfection.co.uk

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Eating Disorders, Recovery, Therapy

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