I’m 20 now. I was 16 in that photo. 4 years of anorexia has torn me to pieces. I’ve lost so much. In that picture I seem a happy, healthy, school girl. I even think I look pretty.
I wish I’d had hindsight before embarking down this terrible road…Anorexia took my life from me…
….Aren’t eating disorders about control?
I’ve lost count of the times people have said this to me, in the most well intentioned, if smugly certain, tone of voice. They’re not asking the question but telling me what they believe, such as:
- You have to be a control freak to have an ED
- You have to have self-control to have an ED
- If you have an ED you’ll try to control everyone around you
Sometimes what they believe dovetails with what they think they’ve observed in their own families or friends. Sometimes it’s based on tabloid stories of anorexic or bulimic celebrities.
Regardless, the remark always makes my blood boil.
Of course eating disorders involve control,
but the force that’s in control is the disorder, not the individual.
It’s like saying diabetes, or cancer, or tuberculosis is all about control.
The illness controls your life, not the other way around.
But that’s never what the uninitiated mean when they say EDs are “all about control.”
What makes EDs so insidious is that they turn the sufferer into a slave puppet, acting out the pathology of the illness in ways that make it appear as if the puppet is choosing to exert hyper control over every morsel of food, every second of exercise, every calorie, every drop, every ounce in her universe.
Worse, they convince the sufferer–at least initially–that she is in control. And she seizes on that illusion because, in truth, she feels utterly powerless, lost, even paralyzed.
Consider the people most likely to develop EDs:
The genetic vulnerability for anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating often coincides with a genetic tendency toward anxiety disorders. Victims of trauma–especially childhood trauma–frequently develop EDs. And EDs often accompany other serious psychological illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Yet no one ever says that these conditions are “about control.”
In fact, when a person is severely depressed or suffering a panic attack or post-traumatic stress disorder, personal control is profoundly absent.
So how can a person who has no control be controlling?
This is the paradox that defines eating disorders.
The individual suffering from an eating disorder is as fragile and vulnerable as the little man pretending to be the Wizard of Oz–and just as fearful of being exposed.
So, like the Wizard, she hides behind her controlling behavior.
- She encourages others to think that she excels at control.
She lies to herself that her ED is a sign of great inner discipline and willpower.
- Anything to avoid being revealed as the mute, frightened, uncertain and needy human being she knows herself to be.
Anything to avoid being outed as an ordinary mortal with hungers, weaknesses and flaws; one of ED’s lies is that these normal vulnerabilities are somehow shameful.
In truth, eating disorders aren’t about control any more than they are about eating.
- What they are about is the flailing of isolated souls undone by feelings of helplessness, longing, rage and terror.
Self-discipline is a masquerade as impressive and misleading
as the Wizard’s pretense of control over Oz.
Unfortunately, it takes more than the clicking of ruby slippers for people in the throes of Eating Disorders to get back home to their true selves.
But the first step for them and those who love them, is to understand that control is neither the problem nor the solution.
It is a door that must be opened so the person hiding inside can at last emerge,
announce herself and come fully into her own unruly life.
-Excerpted from Eating Disorders Blog: Life After Recovery.
This is just… disgusting beyond words. To all my beauties struggling with eating disorders out there, please, please, please be careful. Do whatever you can to ensure this doesn’t ever happen to you.
Ronny Bi, originally from China, now living in Canada, says she was held captive and forced into anorexia pornography after being tricked by someone she had been in contact with online. “He forced me to pose for photos both in revealing clothing and nude, it was sickening. I was too weak to fight back because of how thin I was. I was completely powerless.” Bi, who was held captive with another person with an eating disorder, was starved by her captor in order to make her as emaciated and marketable as possible.
“Sadly, I was not the only woman he did this to,” she says. “Eventually, both of us managed to escape but my friend died shortly afterwards from heart failure due to her anorexia. It was shortly after this that I found out he had posted all of the photos he took of us online and they spread to all the pro-ana and anorexia pornography websites like wildfire.”