Eating Disorders, Fear, and Regret

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The worst part of binge eating disorder is the emotional toll it takes on your personal happiness, self-esteem, and relationships with others. I’ve done so much damage to these three things; some of it, perhaps more than I would like to admit, is irreparable.

I know a lot of people say they have no regrets in life or that they are thankful for the toughest struggles in their lives because their experiences ultimately made them stronger, more compassionate people. While fighting BED has indeed made me a stronger, more compassionate person, there is so much that I regret about it.

I regret deluding myself into believing that I did not have a real problem. I regret believing that I could fix it on my own next week…next month…in the months after. I regret not seeking counselling earlier. I regret hiding my eating disorder from others. I regret living and eating in shame. I regret every binge I have had.

I regret all the things that I did because of my eating disorder. I regret all the things that I did not do because of my eating disorder. I regret all the things that I am now scared to do because of my eating disorder. I regret having an eating disorder.

I have let so many rare and precious opportunities slip away for reasons related to my eating disorder. I so wish I could go back to August 2013 and live my life all over again. I wish I had made different choices. But I cannot. And this is a reality that I will have to forever face.

My message for anyone suffering from an eating disorder is to take big, concrete steps to get help today. It is okay to be afraid of entering recovery; in fact, your intense fear shows that, deep down, you are ready. After all, the things that we most fear failing at are the things that we most desire.

However, examine your fear a little more closely. As psychologists will tell you, most fear of failure is short-sighted – meaning we do not generally fear failing to do something well after years of practice, hard work, and repetition. What we really fear is failing to do something right the first time. This applies to anyone, with or without an eating disorder.

Right now, you may be afraid of recovery because you are afraid of failing after your first concerted effort to get better. What you must realize is that recovery will involve years of practice, hard work, and repetition. You are a strong, intelligent, and capable person. When, after years of practice, hard work, and repetition, have you ever failed to do anything?

You can read, write, and do basic math. Maybe you can also bake excellent cookies, fix cars, do cartwheels, or shoot a three-pointer. Well, think of recovery as one of these things. You were not afraid to bake cookies for the first time. Even if the first or fifth batch came out terribly, that did not stop you from trying again.

You might argue, the stakes here are higher. This is an eating disorder, a mental illness, not a batch of cookies. You are absolutely right. So what are you waiting for?

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4 thoughts on “Eating Disorders, Fear, and Regret

  1. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Such a sad, but true feeling. I wish so badly that I could go back and undue everything…the whole process, from the beginning…when I was overweight in high school, when I decided to get healthy and lose weight, when I let it get out of control and morph into my eating disorder, then allowing the binging to become my new form of eating disorder. It’s a sad reality….and I have so many regrets. If only I could go back and erase it all, I would. But sadly, I can’t. And now I have to do my best to fight it and start reclaiming back my life, bit by bit.

    • I’m right there with you, along with countless others around the world. I didn’t know you started from the other extreme, but I do know that it’s very common for that to happen. I, too, was very thin before I started binging.

  2. I struggle with regret as well but, the older I get, the more I realise it just weighs us down, terribly. Regret is our way of trying to atone, but it’s not particularly helpful. I feel like a bit of a hypocrite saying this, as in a lot of ways I do still carry past pain around on my back, but I think it’s important to try to be kind and forgiving to yourself.
    None of this was your fault. You didn’t ask for any of it and you did nothing to deserve it. Take care of yourself, and try not to let it steal any more of your joy.

    • Very wise words, Marnie. I’m sure one day it’ll come to pass, but while I’m in the throes of the disorder, it seems impossible to escape it. I still have hope though.

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