Internet algorithms are scary accurate.
I mean, it is wild how well these social media algorithms know me.
Take one scroll through your “suggested” YouTube videos, or Netflix shows/movies, and you’ll be floored by how acutely specific your recommendations are.
Take for example, yesterday evening. I was dawdling on YouTube, as one does on a Sunday evening, and what pops up as my #1 recommended YouTube? None other than “Russell Brand: What it was like being a Drug Addict.”
Now, before we dive any further into this story, allow me to interject here that I’ve never taken drugs, and to be quite honest, I’ve never really been a huge fan of Russell Brand’s filmography: “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Get Him to the Greek” are not exactly my cup of cinematic tea.
But, the title caught my attention — and, trusting that YouTube knows me better than I know myself — I gave it a go.
And wow, was I ever moved (and truly surprised) by this former “bad boy” comic.
It turns out, that since becoming clean and sober, he has dedicated his career to being a mental health advocate. He’s written books, has a YouTube channel and website all about his journey to sobriety. And he’s using his celebrity to offer inspiration for those suffering in the throes of addiction.
But there was one quote from his YouTube video that really resonated with me. Because, it may come as a surprise, but I firmly believe that an eating disorder is another form of addiction. It may not be substance abuse, but the addiction to emptiness and self-lothing is just as severe and all-encompassing as an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
In fact, the eating disorder recovery process is much like the 12-step recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Here’s his quote:
“And the idea of change – you don’t feel like you have any hope. You don’t feel like there’s any way of stopping. Why would I stop? How would I stop? This is my life now. It becomes your life. It becomes your religion. It becomes the thing that gets you through – it becomes your world view. That’s why it’s ridiculous to tell a drug addict just to stop.” – Russell Brand
I’ve been writing this blog now for a long time. Over five years. And how it all began, was that I wanted to have a place to share the raw experience of what life in the throes of anorexia was really like, so that loved ones could get some insight into how they could help their suffering daughter/sister/friend/etc. But that was always one of the most crucial things I wanted to communicate: You can just snap her out of it. Or put another way, you cannot tell her to “just eat something.”
But as I’ve continued on my blogging journey, my content has evolved with me. As I have grown more solid in my recovery, and truly been set free from those chains of addiction, my writing has also shifted more towards freedom, life without ED, and with a focus on the source and foundation of my recovery: my faith. (Which also motivated me to write my book, Bloom.)
But every now and then, something will bring me back to those early “BeautyBeyondBones” days, and I’ll be inspired to reread some of those entires. And this quote by Russell Brand was absolutely that trigger.
You see – what he described, was precisely what life was life, trapped in the throes of anorexia. You’re trapped without hope, and even at those very very rare moments of clarity where you realize how miserable you truly are, the notion of change — of letting go of this distorted, disordered and dysfunctional source of “purpose” or “comfort” — seems absolutely impossible. Your life has become your eating disorder. Your eating disorder has become your life. And the cycle of shame and guilt about it all, keeps you in a spiral of self-destruction, that you cannot simply “snap out of.”
I wrote about it in one of my very first entries, back in 2015.
“My loved ones desperately wondered how they could snap me out of it.
And sadly, you can’t just “snap her out of it.” Anorexia is all-encompassing. It takes every ounce, every fiber of your loved one and turns it against her. She is no longer herself. And don’t think for a second that it has anything to do with you. She’s not doing this to herself as a way to punish you, or to pay you back for something you did or didn’t do. No. You can let that fear go, because honestly, this has nothing to do with you. She’s doing this to herself because of an inner voice that’s got a grip on her. An inner Lie that is louder than anything else. That Lie dictates her life – it is the first thing that she hears when she wakes up and the last thing she thinks about as she falls asleep. It is the Lie that nourishes her body and drives her to self destruct. The weight loss is merely a symptom or manifestation of the Lie’s impact on her inner self. That’s why people say, “Anorexia’s not about the food or the weight.” It’s about the Lie. And sadly, the only person that can silence that voice and that Lie is her. Not you. Not her best friend. Not her doctor. Not the priest. Only. Her. “
You can also listen to this clip, where in the first minute and a half, I debunk the myth that you can “snap her out of it.”
All this to say, that addiction is not a dead end. There is a way out. It doesn’t have to be a life sentence, as evidenced by Russell Brand, myself, and the countless number of other recovery warriors out in the world and in this little community.
There’s a saying in the recovery community, that “rock bottom is the foundation upon which I built my life,” and that is absolutely, 100% fact. Although, I will slightly amend that, which is to say that “At rock bottom, Jesus became the foundation upon which I built my life.” Because truth be told, I would not have been able to fully recover and leave my anorexia dead in the past, had Jesus not carried me every step of the way.
Frankly, I had to get to the basement of rock bottom, before I realized I needed to surrender my eating disorder over to Christ. I was at an inpatient treatment facility across the country, having missed my high school graduation, with all my hair fallen out, at 78 pounds being monitored 24/7 by nurses to make sure I survived the night — only then, did I finally see what my eating disorder truly was: a one way ticket to literal demise. And it was then that I gave it all to Christ to redeem. And redeem He did. Without His whispers of truth, that I had worth and value, that I deserved to be loved, that I deserved to live, and thrive, and that He had a good plan for my life and my future, and I didn’t need to fear — those truths sustained me through the incredibly arduous journey to recovery that any ED-warrior, or person living in sobriety, knows all too well.
There is a way out. Even when — like Brand and myself described — your addiction or disorder has become your life, your world view, your religion, your everything. You can stop the barreling freight train of destruction.
It is my deepest prayer tonight, that those struggling in the grips of addiction — in all its forms — may be given a glimpse of hope: hope in a way out. Hope in another path of life. Hope in a future where they are free from the darkness that is dictating their life. (Believe me, I have been there.) And secondly, that the loved ones of those in addiction, may see their child/spouse/friend/sibling/etc. with eyes of compassion. It can be so devastatingly hurtful to live with someone struggling with addiction. I pray that they understand that their loved one is not themself, and that they need help – not condemnation, judgement, or disdain.
There is always another option. And tomorrow is always a new day. Just do the next right thing.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
A huge shoutout to Reason Nutrition Beverage! Their all-natural, high calorie drink is not only delicious, but it has no “garbage” in it! Utilizing the wholesome goodness of coconut oil, it’s a phenomenal option for those needing to gain weight in recovery, or for those simply looking to supplement their diet with convenient and fast nutrition. Check them out!
A big thank you to my foundational sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. I cannot begin to express how beneficial therapy was for my recovery from anorexia. Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.
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