Comparing is Like Rogaine for an Eating Disorder

Eating Disorders are not a disease of vanity, self absorption or an aversion to food, they are a disease of the mind.

For a person without an Eating Disorder addiction it is normal to have some feelings of insecurity when “Keeping up with Jones’” It’s the human condition to look around and ask, “Where do I measure up?” “Where can I improve?” But, for a woman or man with an Eating Disorder the question isn’t “Where do I measure up?” It’s “Am I the BEST?” If we are not the BEST, we honestly, hate ourselves and we cope with putting the focus and attention on our
bodies.

Research has proven that women with Anorexia Nervosa have IQ scores between 120 and 140 (Thats pretty stinkin’ high) Obviously it is in the genetic disposition of these clients to be naturally high achievers. The goal in Eating Disorder treatment is to take that drive for perfection and channel it into a healthy avenue that looks like a “Perfectly Imperfect Life.” Now, to you, maybe you’re a parent or a concerned loved one you think, “Well duh. Life isn’t perfect. That sounds simple. I’ll teach my girl that myself.” If that’s your stance then I have two words for you: “Good Luck.” I have worked in the Eating Disorder field for about 2 years now and I have experienced an ED myself. If there is something I know about “us” it’s that this relinquishing of perfection and constant comparing takes a lifetime of recovery work.

Doing our personal best each day and being patient with ourselves. More times than not this new way of thinking sounds repulsive to clients, I remember one client insisting, “NO! I have to be the BEST! I won’t settle for the best me! I want to be THE BEST!” As she broke down in sobs.

As a woman in recovery, the thing that I have to remember about being the “BEST” is that because I have a voice in my head called “ED” my best will never be good enough. Once I accomplish straight A’s, I’ll be told “Anyone can do that. Wheres your 7 figure job?” Once I have the job I’ll be told, “Everyone can make money. Wheres your husband?” Then I’ll have him and I’ll be told, “He’s not much….she has a better husband…you should get a new
one.” The comparing, the achieving, the having never lets up with an ED. Thats why it takes a lifetime of recovery, meetings, a support group of friends who understand and periodic therapy.

I think that because Eating Disorders are so taboo in the media and not many people know that they are indeed an addiction, it seems as if a woman should just learn to “eat again and move on with her life.” Hmmm…the women I know who have done that have come back after 8 years asking for help again because they thought the bulimia and starvation was
gone. This disease is stuck in between the crevices and the corners of our brain. It’s always waiting to pounce on us and take us down and kill us, like drugs and alcohol. That is the nature of the disease to kill us. I’m not trying to sound dark and dramatic, I guess I’m just trying to relate how something as simple as the act of comparing my body to your body can send me into a tail spin. That if I let myself look at how awesome your job and boyfriend are and then look at my single self I might come up short and then want to starve over
my feelings of insecurity. So whats the solution?

1.) Meetings: Where I can say, “Hey I think I suck cause she looks cute in that dress. Is that normal?”

2.) A new way of thinking: Remembering that I am on my path and you are on yours.
Sometimes I’ll be in a sunnier spot and sometimes you will be, but it’s my job to focus on my path, not yours.

I pray that whoever you are who is reading this blog that you learn to not compare yourself to others. That you appreciate yourself and explore your uniqueness and gifts and utilize them to the best of YOUR ability.