I hate making decisions.
Even picking a restaurant takes me an hour. I mean, who really wants to choose between a burger and sushi? (And don’t even get me started on when we actually get to that restaurant and the waiter hands me my menu.)
Decisions are scary.
Choosing one thing often means not choosing the other. It means deciding what really matters to us. What will really help us in the future.
Sometimes we choose “wrong.”
It could be as simple as eating that greasy pizza when you know it will give you heartburn. Or it could be more serious. You could choose one job offer, only to realize a few months later that you’d prefer to lie on a bed of nails than work for that company.
But do you choose having an eating disorder?
Society seems to think so. Eating disorders can be cast off as “diets-gone-wrong.” Girls who took the 1,200 calorie rule just a little too far. Guys who just wanted to cut weight for their sports and didn’t stop. College athletes who just spend a bit too long in the gym.
We’re supposedly in an “astronomical” obsesity epidemic, and diets seem to be the opposite to that. And, hey, diets take will-power, right? If you have the power to resist picking up a cookie, you’re strong. If you have the power to muscle through four-hour workouts on nothing but egg whites and a protein bar, you’re strong. You must have decided to control your body, no matter what.
Eating disorders can also be condemned as vain. Oh, she wants to eat only a cup of soup and an apple all day, so that she can have a thigh gap? How vain. He exercises and purges so that he won’t gain weight to cover up his six-pack abs? How selfish.
Calling eating disorders “diets” or egotistical make it seem like these serious diseases are someone’s choice.
What’s worse, this stigma makes recovery harder. Once you realize you have an eating disorder, you might start to think that you are being vain. That you are guilty of some sort of moral crime. That you should be shameful of the torture you’ve inflicted your body and mind.
However, choosing means you’re in control of the situation. Eating disorders are the opposite of control.
Did I choose to download a calorie-counting app to keep track of my new “diet”? Yes. Did I choose to start picking the lowest fat yogurt because I thought doing so was healthier? Sure. Did I choose to torture myself in the gym every day? You betcha.
But there other people who start diets, eat “healthy” food, and exercise without it becoming an obsession, an illness.
Eating disorders are a combination of environmental, societal, and biological factors, which makes them so difficult to identify and treat. Studies show the individuals with anorexia have different reward-pleasure wiring in the brain. What’s more, as you decrease your weight, symptoms of starvation set in, such as food-obsession and depression.
People with certain dispositions, like the desire for perfectionism, also tend to develop eating disorders. I’d like to meet the person who can control the personality they were born with. And eating disoders are shown to occur more frequently if one family member has been diagnosed with one because genes do play a role.
Did I choose certain actions that might have contributed to disordered habits and thoughts, or even set-off my eating disorder? Maybe.
But did I choose to lose my health? Did I choose to become obsessed with food but never eat it? Did I choose to have my clothes sag and fall off my shrinking muscles? Did I choose to let a disease consume and ruin my relationships with others and myself?
Just because you break your leg playing soccer doesn’t mean you chose to kick the ball wrong. Just because you cut your finger slicing up an apple doesn’t mean you chose to miscalculate where your thumb was in relation to the knife.
Did I choose to have an eating disorder?
Can I choose recovery?
–> Have you ever felt guilty or shameful of your eating disorder?
–> Why do you think mental illnesses have this stigma of being a “choice”?