Fake It ‘Til Ya Make It
As a theatrical director, it’s my job to study and recreate people’s behaviors. I pay special attention to reactions people have in order to recreate them on stage. It’s fun but it has proved to be both a blessing and a curse in my (mostly) solo journey through recovery. By looking at my own behaviors through a critical objective lens I started to learn to separate the voice of my eating disorder from my own voice.
On the flip side, it has also led me down the path of obsessing over whether I’ve been “sick” or not throughout my life. My parents only encouraged this in their unwillingness to accept the existence of any mental illness in their children. I was their artistic, creative, social butterfly of a daughter and any negative emotion I revealed was dismissed. “Just be happy, Sara,” they would say. so I began having emotional facades at a naive age of 13. I could pinpoint the formula to fool the people around me into thinking that I was perfectly okay. I had to be because emotion was deemed unacceptable. When people bullied me because my size I gave them small smiles. If they thought I was happy then they would leave me alone. It never worked, but eventually I left that school district and went to a performing arts high school. By that point I had almost stopped eating completely and would “space out” entire days of school.
School and EDNOS
I found excuses to stay at school well past dinner, I pushed myself for 12 + hours a day with no substantial nourishment, and I planted a smile on my face with a perky attitude towards my peers and professors and I was fine. I wanted to hide my eating disorder as best as I could. My close friends started asking me, “Sara, when exactly do you eat?” I realized I really wasn’t fine. I was also uncomfortably aware that I was not functioning as well as everyone thought I was. Eventually, I went to my parents and tried to reveal what I’d been doing to myself. In fact, I remember one time in particular when I went to them and the argument ended with me on my knees sobbing, actually begging to be sent to some sort of doctor. I knew I wasn’t healthy, but I didn’t know how to stop. My parents still thought I was fine. After all, the girl crying in front of them was always called things like ‘pleasantly large,’ ‘overweight,’ and ‘substantial,’ by doctors and friendly observant people. My parents called me silly and a dramatic hypochondriac After that, the subject of my eating disorder was dropped.
I tried to take my mental health into my own hands in college, but it didn’t last long. My father always asked when I’d be able to move past therapy. Wasn’t four appointments enough already? Wasn’t I better yet? Despite therapy, my status as overachiever began deteriorating, and my mind spiraled out of control. Eventually, I told them that my psychiatrist had recommended I begin outpatient treatment for my eating disorder. When I argued, I just got hit with an unemotional vague response, “we don’t have the money.” I had to stop seeing my therapist. That’s where I feel I lost the fight!
Fainting, Hospital, Trouble
Four months later, I fainted in the middle of my theater class. I took a cab to the hospital and got pumped full of IV fluids for dehydration.. My parents were furious with me because of how much money it costs to be in a hospital. Without the support from my parents my options were limited. I didn’t know what else to do.
I’m still by no means recovered from my eating disorder. Its a daily struggle and everyday I have to convince myself that recovery is worth it. If my parents could only see the strain this puts on my daily life then maybe I could have my therapist back. I’m not ready to give up recovery so I’m using my voice here to say that I need help with my recovery and that’s okay.
DEAR READERS! Please contact REglam firstname.lastname@example.org or Sara Dickey below if you know of a mentor that can guide her. She goes untreated as her parents don’t allow therapy.
If You Digged These Article, Check Out These! Anorexia Brought Death To My Door, I Chose Life! Part 1, Life in Recovery From Anorexia Part 2, and A Therapist and Patient Perspectives On: Having an Authentic Therapeutic Relationship