I had a conversation with my therapist a while ago that I thought would be a good topic to bring up on my blog.
When I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, I was completely shocked. I wasn’t sick. I wasn’t unable to care for myself. I didn’t lose all control over myself.
But then she asked me if there was anything else in my life I felt like I restricted myself from.
I had plenty to respond with:
I restricted myself from spending money on anything because I assumed every purchase was frivolous, including food.
I restricted myself from seeing or talking to other people because it was an excuse to not burden other people, when in reality I was only pushing away the ones that wanted to help.
I restricted myself from using social media because I didn’t want anyone to see what I looked like or give others a way to connect with me.
I restricted myself from dating because I believed that there was no possible way I could be in recovery and be in a committed relationship at the same time.
I restricted myself from all creative outlets because I didn’t think I was worthy enough or that anything I created would ever be good enough.
Needless to say, there are a plethora of forms that restriction played a role in my life that didn’t just include food. These were just a few examples that came up in our conversation.
Realizing this was eye opening for me. Why was I restricting myself from other things aside from food? Why was I restricting my use of food in the first place?
Through a lot of therapy and by opening up to share my story on eating disorder recovery, I was able to find a lot of clarity. It took time, but now I can see and experience a world that doesn’t have restrictions. On the contrary, it is filled with open and endless possibilities.
What does my life of restrictions look like now?
I allow myself to spend money (not impulsively, but healthily) on things that bring me happiness because I now can see the reality that you won’t be taking any form of currency with you when the credits roll.
I allow myself to be open with the people I love, spending as much time openly communicating and simply loving life because I now know the true importance of a support system.
I allow myself to use social media as a way to continue telling my story and connect with people from all over the world because we live in a time where I have the ability to network with others that can provide support and encouragement for one another.
I allow myself to be in a healthy, supportive, and beautiful relationship that I only hope will continue to flourish because I now have the strength, wisdom, and courage to differentiate between my own personal journey without losing myself in someone else’s.
I allow myself to be creative in any medium I want because I now see that what I have to say, sing, write, and visually create has power and worth for myself which is the absolute most important piece of the puzzle.
Restriction absolutely comes in many forms, but there is always a way to reframe those restrictions. I took everything once step at a time, one restriction at a time. I reflected on what the restriction looked like, why I did it, and what I wanted it to look like in my own version of reality, not the one my eating disorder and mental illness had created for me.
Again, I’m not perfect. I mess up and fall off the wagon. I catch myself doing these things. The important thing I try to remember is that I catch them before it’s too late to turn around. And if it is too late, the world doesn’t end because I can learn from every time things don’t go quite the way I want them to.
I am no longer bound by the restrictions of my disorder.
Meet the Author
Hey, I’m Lauren Dow. Author, podcast host advocate, and feeler of the big feels. I’m here to provide a safe space to normalize the conversation about mental health. Thanks for joining me on this wild ride.