Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Mind

I so appreciate your support, your prayers, and your kindness since I announced my illness. I understand that for some (perhaps most) of you, the general lack of information in my post might have been distressing. I have spent the time since I posted weighing my options and more closely evaluating my reasons for desiring privacy. I have come to the conclusion that, as much as I would like to keep silent about this and never ever tell you what’s going on, the price of keeping my mouth shut is not worth it. And you deserve to know. 

However, it’s important that you understand I have a laundry list of reasons for not wanting to tell you what’s going on, the first of which being that, when I tell people what I have, the first question (whether voiced or just visibly thought) is generally “why?”. Which is unfortunate because, to me, the why of the illness is more complex and private than the illness itself. So while I want to be able to help you understand why this is happening to me, I can’t. 

But I can still tell you what’s going on. 

The summer after I turned sixteen, just a few months after my friend died, I lost over thirty pounds in two months. Another good friend asked me point blank if I had an eating disorder, and I told her that no, I just hadn’t had much of an appetite lately. I might have blamed it on the heat or something—I don’t remember. It doesn’t matter. The point is, I lied. 

For reasons that I won’t go into, I got a handle on the disorder before it got scary far, and it left me alone until this summer, when I was beginning to feel safe and happy and more like a person than I have ever felt. Somehow it managed to sneak up on me, tap me on the shoulder, and catch me by the throat when I turned around to see who was there. It seemed innocent and harmless at first. I was stressed about the idea of working late, so I decided to make a habit of skipping lunch breaks, with the idea that I would eat when I got home. As November progressed and things got worse, I skipped lunch on writing days as well because I’d had coffee and I wanted more time to write, and again, I could just eat more later. Only there were times when I forgot to eat later and felt proud of myself because, for once in my life, I felt like I had finally managed to exercise self control around food, that for once food was not the one in control. One thing led to another, and somewhere along the way, I changed from someone who had an embarrasing sweet tooth to someone who has frequent anxiety attacks at the thought of eating. 

As I said before, I have multiple reasons for wanting to keep my struggle with anorexia a secret. The guilt I feel at having this particular mental illness is ridiculously disproportionate—if you were to step into my head right now, you would think I was admitting to being a serial killer (which I’m not, in case you were wondering) rather than admitting to being someone whose brain has just broken down tremendously through no fault of my own. (I say “through no fault of my own” because that’s what trusted people have told me, and I am trying to believe them.) See the thing is, I blame myself. Even though this sickness snuck in through the attic window when I was preoccupied with cleaning the grime from the backs of the cupboards in my head, I still catch myself thinking there had to have been some conscious moment when I held the door open for the devil and led him to the kitchen table of my mind, where I proceeded to let him dictate my death. So, in that way, I feel like admitting to this means I’ll have to wear a scarlet A now (only this time it stands for anorexia). 

Furthermore, the idea of people thinking I’m suicidal or nuts or stupid or high maintenance or attention-seeking bothers me more than I can adequately express. I don’t like reflecting on the multiple small deceptions I have let myself use to mask this illness (even though all the times I screamed on the inside for someone to notice and call me out must amount for something). Perhaps my gradual break-up with full disclosure might explain why I’ve not felt like myself for some time. 

In other news, I feel unoriginal, because why do I have to have such a mainstream disorder, of all things? Seriously. I’m a writer. I’m supposed to be interesting and imaginative. (This is the part where you laugh awkwardly because I make bad jokes when I’m in distress. And also just in general.) 

I have felt ridiculous because I feel like I don’t fit the visual profile for someone with anorexia. Which, when you think about it, is rather ironic: I feel like I’m too fat to be taken seriously as someone who has an eating disorder that makes them feel fat even when they’re not. Ahem. 

As a Christian, I have felt shame at the amount of time I have dedicated to listening to Satan’s lies. Because at it progressed, I was aware on some level of what was happening. And you could argue that at that point it was already too late simply to make the choice to stop my behavior, but that doesn’t change what my thought patterns looked like. It doesn’t change the fact that I was willing to look to the devil for salvation because I stopped trusting that God loves me enough to take care of me. All this, even though I knew Satan would never help me out of the kindness of his heart, that his “aid” would never come without a monumental price tag. Because while I know this is a mental illness, I also know that it is very much fueled by lies that I have ingested and continue to embrace, lies like: I take up too much space, I am intrinsically unworthy and unlovable, every bite I take disqualifies me from being loved, etc. 

Additonally, I am afraid that people will attempt to slap me with easy solutions like “just eat” because they don’t understand how complex this disorder is, how the not-eating issue is a symptom, not the root of the problem. I don’t want people wrongly assuming I crave self-destruction when, in reality, this disorder has so much control over me that even eating a mouthful, much less a meal, feels like a defiant gesture, and straining against the boundaries of this disorder brings down fresh punishment from the enemy. 

In other news, I care too much about what people think. Years ago, a friend of mine told me that, and while I have tried to fix this aspect of myself and have made strides, I’m sorry to say that it’s still very much the case. Even though I know you won’t judge me, my coffee beans, I am also afraid that you will. Honesty, however uncomfortable, is important to me, now more than ever, and I am sorry that I have let myself pretend that it doesn’t matter this time around. I am sad because, in giving ear to this disorder as it tries to trap me in silence where there is no help, I have drifted from the person God designed me to be. I still want privacy. I still want to pretend things are normal. I know, after posting this, people I have to see in person on a regular basis will likely look at me differently (not that they don’t already), and that’s almost enough to convince me that I am making a mistake. There is an extent to which I don’t want people to know because I don’t want the constant pressure to get better—or rather, that’s what the disorder tells me I don’t want. But I have established a precedent for honesty on this blog, and I don’t want there to be any confusion or misinformation about what’s going on in my life. 

So here’s the deal: I have been getting help, and I will continue to do so. As much as it feels like pushing a boulder uphill on the daily, I will continue to fight. I’m not eating normally yet; I probably won’t be for a while. But for the moment I am eating more than I was, and that is not nothing. 

There are many things I can’t be certain about with regards to this, but there are a few things I know for sure. I won’t be the same person I was before. That could be a bad thing, but with God’s help I can also make it a good thing. Like most mental illnesses, anorexia is also not something you recover from—as people have reminded me—it’s something you learn to manage. Regardless of how well I reorder my mind and relearn normal eating habits, it will always occupy some small space in my psyche, and it will always be looking for a way to return. 

Again, I would really appreciate your prayers and your understanding. I’ll also be sure to update you from time to time and all that fun stuff, so please don’t fret. And hey, no worries if you don’t know how to respond to this—just share your favorite Bible verse or Twenty One Pilots song or something. :)


  1. despite not being close or seeing you for some time, I have a great deal of respect for you Liz <3 God bless, know that you're thought of and prayed for.

  2. Thank you Liz for sharing some of your journey. You will also help others in this sharing. I will pray for you in your struggle.

  3. You definitely have my prayers ♥ Keep fighting!!

  4. Thank you for sharing, lovely girl. I'm so proud of you for sharing. You're brave and I admire you so much. <3

  5. Praying for you! You are a daughter of the King, you are loved, and you are worth taking care of. Thank you for sharing--I'm sure it took a lot of courage.

  6. This, awkwardly, was kind of a relief for me to read. I'm a worst-case-scenario kind of girl, so I'm over here in my corner of the world worrying that you've got a terminal disease with no options for treatment ever in the world. Which is NOT to say that your experiences are therefore "easy" or "better," but I guess it is just a comfort to know the name of the illness and know that you can and are getting help. SO I AM GLAD FOR YOU IN THAT ASPECT EVEN THOUGH YOUR SITUATION HAS NOT CHANGED IN THE LEAST, ONLY MY PERCEPTION OF IT.


    I'm still grateful for you and your story, though, and you continually impress me with the bravery and resilience with which you face your life. Like bruh. If you want to know how cool you are, you should go reread your old posts and see how impressive you are. (Because you are impressive, I promise.)

    I wish you well on your path to a healthy management. :) Also, you are a poetic and noble land mermaid. Don't forget that.

    (Also also, sorry if I sound way too enthusiastic for a post like this. It is how I attempt to sound nice.)

  7. Lauren Daigle - I am Yours

    Morgan Harper Nichols - Storyteller

    John Waller - Our God Reigns Here

  8. Sharing this is really brave of you Liz. I honestly don't really know what to say, because I always feel awkward about whatever I want to say to people who are struggling with a disorder. Kitchen Sink is one of my favorite TOP songs.

    Know that you are in my prayers xx

  9. I love you so much. Please be kind to yourself as you are a blessing to others.

  10. I stumbled onto your blog today I read this post. I just want to let you know that You are loved by God and you are not alone!!

    I used to not eat meals to make myself skinnier and I dropped 20 pounds and I thought it was the right thing to do. It went on for months and friends and family kept asking me how much weight I lost and trying to force me to eat, it felt like no one understood. But eventually I kept praying for God to help me and my friends kept telling me I didn't need to be a twig to be loved, I am now a healthy inside and out I know Gods love for me and that being super skinny doesn't make you more loveable!

    I hope and pray you can find this helpful and know Gods love for you!! I will pray for you!

    This is my favorite verse, it reminds me to not worry what others think and God will be there.
    Joshua 1:9
    Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

  11. I'm 100% praying for you, Liz. Even though I haven't been very good at checking it ( :p ) I've been doing that at least since you posted about your blocks and I'll continue to pray for you throughout this fight.

    And because you've been honest with us I want to be honest with you: there was a time in my life when I struggled with anorexia as well and I kept it completely silent. In fact, apart from one other instance in a church small group, this is the only time I've ever admitted it to anyone else. And I want you to know that those moments when your heart screamed for someone to see you do mean something. Because they were the part of you that knew the truth and clung to it, the part of you that allows you to seek and receive the help that you need. Those moments matter; you matter. There is such guilt attached to this illness; no matter where you turn, no matter which way you flip it, it always comes back to there being something wrong with you. Like you're not good enough.

    But that is the biggest lie.

    I know it doesn't help so much when other people say this, because you can still hear the lies screaming louder in your head, but I want you to know that you are beautiful, inside and out. God doesn't make mistakes; He made you righteous and lovely and in His image. He calls you chosen, free, forgiven, wanted, His daughter forever, held, treasured, with powerful gifts that He wants you to have the chance to use (paraphrase from Francesca Battistelli's He Knows My Name). I'm not going to pretend your fight will be easy, but I know that He'll give you the strength to get through it.

    And this feels weird to say since we've never met in real life, but you are so dear to me. Your words touch me every time I read them, whether they make me laugh, make me think, or both. And I totally get wanting privacy, but please message me if you need to. :) Frankly, going through this alone is the worst idea. And I should've asked for help earlier; I don't want you to be isolated the way I made myself.

    I'm rambling now, so I'll go ahead and end this: I don't want to pretend that I know how you feel, because I think anorexia is different for everyone. But I want you to know that I'm praying for your different to be so much better, and for you to come through it so much stronger. All my love as a sister in Christ <3 <3