My Eating Disorder is an Asshole but I'm Not Why Separating the Person From their Mental Illness is Everything

The two years I spent in graduate school are cloudy at best. Some things I remember very distinctly like the color of the gelatin substance that oozes out of toaster strudels when your deep into your second box. Or the dozens of bright stars that would flash in front of my eyes as I paced to evening class after not eating all day. What I don’t recall is the exact number of lies I told my roommate at that time to get out of breakfast, lunch, dinner, or anything remotely social. I don’t remember the amount of money I spent buying food to binge, or on the contrary buying yoga classes to burn baby burn.

Those two years I danced with the devil more than I care to admit, I binged and purged and restricted and exercised with such great intensity that nothing beyond those things mattered. My eating disorder was an asshole. It was one of the most manipulative, deceitful, and jealous entities that just so happen to occupy nearly all of my brain space.

My eating disorder was an asshole. It was one of the most manipulative, deceitful, jealous, entities that just so happen to occupy nearly all of my brain space.

Eating disorders are manifested by symptoms. In order for me to maintain those symptoms something had to give. So, I traded some of my honesty for an empty apartment and a chance to binge, I swapped my healthy admiration for an all-consuming jealously of anyone suffering more than I was, and I abandoned my friends and family for the desire of destruction that could only be found in isolation.

I abandoned my friends and family for the desire of destruction that could only be found in isolation.

Nowadays, even having had some space from it all I still struggle. I still function as a living contradiction. I have days where I’m actively shoveling food into my mouth all while planning my next relapse. However, I can do the things I need to do because ultimately I know that the voice trying to kill me, is not the same voice that has given me life time and time again.

Ultimately I know that the voice trying to kill me is not the same voice that has given me life time and time again.

That separation that exists between the person and their mental illness, or whatever battle they may be facing is everything. My therapist once said to me, “No matter how much weight you lose your soul will always be the same size, you will always be a good human being”. And she’s right, (because she’s always right), when the binging, purging, self-harm, anxiety, depression, voices, whatever it may be are stripped away, people are often really good, beautiful human beings.