What It Feels Like to Be Anorexic

BlogHer Original Post

Sometimes I think I wrote The Obvious Game just so I could write this scene between Diana and her best guy friend, Seth:

I picked up my spoon and made it walk around the table. And I told him. “Imagine I'm your mother. Every ten minutes I interrupt you from whatever you are doing and tell you to clean your room. You clean it. It's clean. It's spotless. You could serve the Queen Mother off your floor. Ten minutes later, I walk back in and tell you to clean it again.

“‘It’s clean,’ you say. ‘I just cleaned it.’

‘Clean it again,’ I say. ‘You missed a spot.’

So you get down on your hands and knees and scrub the floor with your toothbrush. Ten minutes later, I walk back in and tell you to clean it again.

This repeats, over and over, until the room is so clean it’s starting to come apart at the seams with the scrubbing, but still I continue to walk in and tell you to clean it. You show me the floorboards coming up. I don’t care. I tell you to clean it again.

“After a while, the floorboards do come up, and underneath them, you imagine you see dirt. You know I’m coming back to tell you to clean it again, so you begin to scrub. You scrub and scrub.

And I tell you to do it again.

You fall asleep in the middle of the floor. First thing in the morning, you wake up and examine every inch of the room. It is spotless.

I walk into your room before you’ve even gotten up.

And I tell you to clean it again.”

I took a deep breath. “That’s what it’s like inside my head.”

Seth stared at me, his mouth open.

Pretty horrible, isn't it? That's what my head felt like for at least ten years. Even after I looked normal on the outside, I didn't feel normal on the inside. It's taken years of examining my self-talk and my perspective on life and me actually completely changing the way I interact with the world in order to recover. It's possible, but it's hard. And it's even harder if the people who love you are so frustrated with you they're ready to let you starve to death.

So I'm not sure it should be called Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I'd love it to become Eating Disorder Understanding Week. Disordered eaters have some very important work to do. Nobody makes someone have an eating disorder, and no one can make them not have one. If you have an eating disorder, please reach out. If you love someone with an eating disorder, please figure out how best to help them from a professional. Please check out BlogHer's Own Your Beauty initiative for stories of bloggers who have learned to accept themselves for dozens of reasons, not just eating disorders. And remember: Fat is not a feeling.

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Rita Arens is the author of the young adult novel The Obvious Game & the senior editor of BlogHer. Find more at www.surrenderdorothyblog.com.

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