"Something to share with the class..?"
"You just made my Southern come out!"
"Why are the stairs so hard?!"
"Well aren't you just a little failure... Aren't I encouraging!?"
Out of all the things that my roommate says, the only one that continually replays in my head is "Well aren't you just a little failure..." And that is the track in my head, not because she ever meant it (really, she never did--it was always in a joking manner), but because that's exactly how I feel right now. That's what my ED wants me to believe right now.
It's also how I am feeling right now. I mean, look at me. I am 19-years-old, living back in my parents house. I can't even go to college on my own. I can't even be successful at feeding myself.
I feel like a failure in comparison to everyone else.
Now there are many things about that simple statement right there that need to be broken down, so bear with me.
The first part of that phrase, "I feel like," says a lot. Feelings are not always accurate. Actually, most of the time, they are not, especially in cases of people who struggle with eating disorders, especially anorexia. I mean, part of my eating disordered thinking right now involves unrealistically high standards--standards that I will NEVER reach, that no one could ever reach. So I am always going to feel like I'm failing in that regard, even if I am not.
And looking at the facts of my life, I am not, in fact, failing at anything. If I would have chosen to not make my health a priority, I most likely would still be juggling academics, extra-curricular activities, work, friendships, and so much more in a very successful manner. I can be a high-functioning anorexic, when my depression is not acting up and when I make that choice to not care for myself.
Let me define failure according to the dictionary:
1. lack of success
2. omission of expected or required action; lack of deficiency of a desirable quality
3. action or state of not functioning
Point 1: I am a student at Gettysburg College, one of the top liberal arts schools in the US. I have A's and B's. I have a job. I count all of that as success.
Point 2: I am taking expected/required actions right now. I am acting in the best interests of my health, something that is expected by everyone, no matter who they are. I am taking action to attempt to finish this semester. I am not inactive.
Point 3: I am not in a state of not functioning. I am still writing (obviously). I am working to come up with a solid treatment plan. I am working with the college to finish this semester. I am functioning. Maybe I am not a fully productive member of society, but I am still functioning.
I think what I'm really getting hung up on is the "in comparison to everyone else," part of the sentence. I mean, I look around and all of my friends are on the Dean's List or accepting job offers; doing senior recitals or writing plays; getting engaged or having babies; doing research or leading immersion trips.
But other people are also not fighting a life-threatening battle with anorexia, so making that comparison is not able to be made.
And I am "failing" to complete a semester of college... Or at least feel like it, but again, using the definition and the explanation above, I am not truly failing.
So maybe this feeling is stemming from the fact that I think I am failing at recovery. Maybe that is really what this is all about.
Yesterday at the assessment, I was told that I was the third or fourth person she had assessed in the past week who went through Maudsley/FBT/Adolescent program in late high school, went on to college, and was now back getting treatment in the Adult Program. So it's apparently pretty common.
Also, my Wise Mind knows for a fact that the recovery process isn't perfect! It's full of slip ups and mistakes and lapses and relapses.
None of that means failure.
I am NOT a failure.
The only way I can fail is if I stop trying to recover.