I admit it: sometimes I thought about simply accepting Ana in my life. It happened especially in an early state of recovery when I struggled most and doubted that saying bye to Ana would be really worth it. Well, so I won’t find enjoyment in eating like other people do, I thought. But I can still have fun going out with friends, be creative or enjoy watching a sunset. I was wrong. With Ana at your side, a joyful life is simply not possible. I just found a very interesting graphic that illustrates this phenomenon. It’s called the Hierarchy of Needs and was developped by an American psychologist called Maslow in 1943:
Maslow put human needs in an order in form of a pyramide. The fundament are basic needs (like water, rest, security and, of course, food!), the middle is formed by psychological needs (like friends, being loved or prestige) and the top self-fulfillment needs. Important to know is: the single steps are based on each other. Which means that, as long as your basic needs aren’t satisfied, you can’t reach any other step above. Which means for somebody with Anorexia, that there is no fullfilment as long as Ana exists, because, with her, the first step of the pyramide will never be stable! I think, that’s the difference between existing and living. With an eating disorder, all you do is to (barely) eat, drink, sleep, breathe. With Ana, you exist, but you don’t live!
What the pyramide shows as well is, on the other hand, how incredibly difficult recovery is. If you starve yourself, you ignore your physological needs and basically haven’t even reached the first step. From your position at the bottom of the pyramide you can’t see the top. You are so far away from all the joys that life has to offer that you may get depressed and think that something like self-actualization is not even possible.
You have to accept that, even if you decided on recovery, it is a slow process. But, trust me, the better you get, the more little signs you will see. There will be these little moments, when you have to laugh spontanously or when you’re fascinated by something, let it be a good book, a person or whatever. These moments that reassure you that recovery is worth it. I mean, how sad would it be if you’d never reach another step of the pyramide except the first one? If all that people could tell about you at the end of your life would be that you managed to exist while never weighing more than 40kg!?
At the end, I want to share a thought experiment with you:
What if your life would be repeated over and over agein? Would you continue living as you do right now? Or would you rather change something?
When I thought about these questions the idea of living the past two years for a second time again frightened me. I mean, why should somebody seriously aim for repeating an existence that is mainly dominated by Ana? I took this as a clear sign to change something and to do more than just exist. I chose recovery and so should you! As a life with Ana is basically no life at all!