As our workshop on eating disorders approaches, I have had an opportunity to reflect on my own recovery and the various challenges that I have faced in order to reach a point where I am comfortable understanding and discussing my own experiences. One point that really stands out to me is perspectives.
Living with an eating disorder is similar to wearing a pair of glasses. The lenses filter the way you see the world, but also provide the world with an image of you. With an eating disorder, those glasses become filtered with an eating disorder lens, distorting everything that I saw. The
longer I kept those glasses on, the more disoriented and helpless I felt when I removed them. I
became dependent on the eating disorder, because it was how I saw the world and how the
world saw me. An aimless attempt to find purpose was satisfied by the eating disorder, because
it became my identity. She’s anorexic.
This is dangerous. The eating disorder glasses paint a beautiful perspective of the world. They
provide goals and purpose. If you eat under x amount of calories, you will lose weight. If you
weigh x amount of pounds, you have regained control of your life and your body. If you follow
this fad diet you will be accepted. The promises are eloquent...it is a way to regain control, a
way to find an identity, a drive to accept purpose. But the perspectives and promises are
The main focus of my recovery has been removing the glasses tainted by the eating disorder.
This is not as easy as it sounds. It means redeveloping my perspective on the world, reshaping
my identity, and regaining control on my own terms. I wore those glasses for so many years that
when they were finally removed, I didn’t have a clue who I was anymore. She’s anorexic shifted
into she had an eating disorder. This reminds me of my grandmother, who continued wearing
her glasses frames with the lenses popped out after having eye surgery because she feared
that nobody would recognize her without those glasses. For years I kept those eating disorder
glasses on, with the lenses popped out, because I needed to reestablish who I was and where I
belonged, and I feared who I may be without them. I clung to the last dregs of the eating
disorder because for many years of my life that’s all I was reduced to, and the way I recognized
Finally, after years of hard work, I have removed those glasses and am shaping my identity in
different ways. She loves to rock climb. She is passionate about helping people. She has
earned a university degree. She takes too many pictures and collects too many vintage artifacts
but wouldn’t change it for the world. She speaks out about her experiences. She believes there
is not much that can’t be addressed over a good cup of tea and healthy conversation. She loves
deeply and without reserve.
Last, but not least… She is more than her eating disorder.
Written by Elisha McGregor