Why did you choose Ana in the first place? Probably because there were some parts of your life that seemed uncontrolable. And Ana gave you at least one area in which you could set your own rules and reach your goals. But did weight loss and calorie counting finally give you the control you wanted? Of course not. The other problems were still there, very likely they got even worse. But there is another area that gets totally out of control while you are with Ana: your emotions.
It’s kind of all connected with each other. Undernourishment leads to a current occupation with food and you may not be able to truly feel something anymore. There is a very famous experiment which proves this, called the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, in which volunteers were starved for six months. Heres what one participant said after it:
„After you’ve not had food for a while your state of being is just numb. I didn’t have any pain. I was just very weak. One’s sexual desires disappeared.“
With Ana, you often see the world like through a haze and, firstly,you may not think about this as being too bad as you temporarily don’t have to face all the negative feelings anymore. But as the participant said: the positive feelings do fade as well. There’s no more joy, no more interest in sexuality and you’re very likely to get depression and anxiety.
As contradictory as this may sound: the core of eating disorders is not food! You are not really scared of this plate of spaghettis or the oil in your salad dressing. You are scared of facing the problems behind your eating disorder. You’re scared that, by becoming healthy, the negative feelings will come back as well. To a certain extent that’s actually true. The worst depressions often occur when patients are already nearly weight restored and can feel the sadness, desperation or anger again that Ana had surpressed before. So weight and emotions are strongly connected to each other. This is also why patients with extreme underweight are often not allowed to get psychological treatment as it should expose emotional backgrounds that the patient is simply not able to retrace in its critical physical state. To quote the participant of the Minnesota starvation experiment for a second time:
„When something good happened, we (the volunteers) would explode with joy and when we were pessimistic we were very depressed.“
People with eating disorders do often tend to think in extremes like that. You slowly have to learn to define your emotions again. When I’ve been impatient, we had to do this before and after every meal. Neither were we allowed to describe our mood as „good“ or „bad“ nor that we feel „fat“ or „full“. It may sound silly, but in the beginning, this was really hard for me. I had to learn to even recognize the thousands of emotions in between. Exhausted. Melancholic. Confused. Euphoric. And so on. There is such a huge range of emotions. But to be able to explore them, you firstly have to face the negative feelings that you’d probably prefer to avoid. To be honest, this will be no easy path, but one that is definitely worth going!
Maybe you can imagine it as the top of a mountain that you have to climb – even if the stones are sharp and you feel like giving up for more than one time. While you’re climbing you always keep in mind that, behind the mountain, there will be meadows with flowers from all different kinds. These flowers are your emotions. Once you reached the top of the mountain, your life will be so much more colourful! Of course, it can still happen that the sky overclouds from time to time but that’s okay, because you know that every thunderstorm will pass sooner or later and you will see the flowers again.
So start climbing and let Ana go! There are so many things to be felt out there that are worth it! ♥