What did we do before email?
What was the world like before we could instantly communicate with people around the globe? Reflecting on that makes me feel very small.
In case you were unaware, I have an email address for the blog. (Also a twitter @Anarevealed and Instagram @beauty.beyond.bones.) But my email is firstname.lastname@example.org where you can email me with questions, comments, the weather report, conspiracy theories about Serial, freak out responses over The Bachelor…you name it. I’m all ears.
But there’s one topic that I get asked about ten times more than any other. And it’s something that I was actually talking to my mom about recently.
And it has to do with how I actually changed my thinking surrounding ED.
Young warriors reach out to me all the time about their racing ED thoughts, and how they’re constantly suffering from anxiety and depression. And they want to know how I put those thoughts to rest. How I changed my thinking.
And that’s a great question. And I was talking to my mom about this topic today, and she goes, “Now that‘s a blog post.” She said that this was always something that she was fascinated by, and has always wondered how, exactly, I was able to change my thinking.
And I don’t really know how to start talking about this, or have a witty intro, so I’m just going to start. (Disclaimer, this is going to be talking about anorexia specifically in the beginning, but I promise it will be worth the read, even if you don’t suffer from an eating disorder.)
Let me start with some ground work: There’s a grave misconception about eating disorders, and anorexia in particular. There’s this commonly held belief that people who suffer with eating disorders are superficial, self-obsessed, highly vain individuals who stare in front of a mirror all day thinking, “Oh, I want to starve myself to become skinny like a model. Oh look how beautiful I’m becoming.”
That could not be further from the truth.
Anorexia and eating disorders are not some passive quest to become “hot.”
It is a manic disease.
Thoughts racing constantly – about food, about what to eat, when to eat, how to get away with not eating, how to exercise, how to sneak exercise or extra movements throughout the day, freaking out over sitting still, thoughts of self-hatred, thoughts of comparison, losing sleep over recalling that day’s intake, anxiety over not sleeping – there is literally a freight train barreling full speed ahead in your brain. I described it to my mom (later, of course) as being caught in a hurricane. On a treadmill at full speed that you just can’t get off of.
In fact, one of the most “controversial” blog posts on here was a piece where I recounted a typical day at the height of my disease. It was a firsthand account of those manic thoughts I had – down to the minute. And it made my parents really sad to truly see the reality of the nature of the disease. And as a result, I have edited it – “polished it”- to make it more “palatable,” but that’s the truth. That’s what anorexia is really like. It’s not some girl locked away in her bedroom pouting because she can’t fit into size 0 jeans and refusing to eat as a result. It is a full fledged attack on the mind. Incessant. Wounding. Manic thoughts.
And here’s the tough part: there’s no “emergency brake” lever that you can just pull.
You can’t just stop thinking that way. Because you’re so caught up in this whirlwind in your mind, that you can’t not think that way at the snap of your fingers. You can’t just flip a switch.
So that leads to the question: How, then, did you manage to escape those thoughts? How did you change your thinking?
Well, it was a long process.
But here’s the long and the short of it: instead of trying to stop thinking that way, I instead started thinking about something else.
I filled my mind with other thoughts.
In order to combat these flaming arrows being hurled at me nonstop by ED, I made the conscious decision to think about good things.
I look back to my journals I kept while I was at inpatient, and I absolutely POURED over scripture. Focusing on God’s word that He loved me. That He would strengthen me. That He would comfort me and protect me.
And even though I might not have fully believed it at the time (which I will discuss in an upcoming post), I was proactively filling my mind with those truths so that my brain simply didn’t have any time to be thinking about destructive thoughts.
I constantly listened to Christian podcasts, worship music, read Christian books. I went to mass every single day. Anything and everything to keep my mind focused and zeroed in on the Truth, so that the lies could not penetrate inside.
And I believe that in doing so, Jesus was doing a lot of work behind the scenes. I was actively seeking Him, and so He responded to that earnest effort by healing my mind and heart and protecting me from those attacks from ED.
And even though our thoughts might not be manic, a flaming arrow is a flaming arrow. And so often we can feel as though we’re being succumbed by the attack. That there’s no way out. No respite from the storm.
We have to actively seek the good. Replace those lies, those haranguing thoughts, with the truth.
Thinking about the good is a habit. It is a skill that we can learn and hone. It is one that I still use and still work on to this day. That’s how my Instagram was born: it is a continuation of my quest for the good. And I share the quote art photos I create as a way to keep my mind on the good. And maybe help others do the same.
You must master a new way to think in order to master a new way to be.