Abandoned Beliefs
-Anorexia's Voices-

T he voices anorexics are mercilessly bombarded with are very real. Though they originate from within, it is as if some outside force dictates stringent rules and regulations day and night. When I first spoke of these voices to a therapist, her response was to question me for schizophrenic tendencies, because she had no experience with the mindset of an anorexic.
I t is extremely difficult to understand what one has not experienced. The closest thing I can cite as an example of these voices is this: Have you ever held a self-dialogue? Maybe you were trying to make a decision and held a pro-con discussion in your mind. Have you ever chastised yourself for not sending a sympathy card, making a phone call or visit? You direct these conversations, but can confuse and belittle yourself as successfully as if you were conversing with another.
A norexics carry on self-dialogue, however the topic of conversation deals exclusively with her worthlessness as a human being. The voices attack constantly convincing her she is most despicable and not fit to be loved or to exist. How one develops this self-abusive tendency is debated among medical professionals and therapists alike. It is not my intention to offer an explanation as to how anorexia manifests itself in an individual. I wish only to share with you an understanding of the messages which plague those who suffer with this disorder. Realize these voices do not appear overnight. They begin as a whisper then progress to a deafening roar.
You are a pig You are disgusting You don't deserve to eat You must suffer
You never do enough You fail at everything you do Everyone is better than you You deserve nothing
You are stupid You are ugly You are good for nothing Everyone laughs at you
Your body is sickening You are a gross You deserve to die You should never have been born

K eep in mind, the voices deliver these messages day and night. Even sleep does not offer solace. For dreaming that she is eating, the anorexic awakes terrified, fearing she's disobeyed and gained weight. These voices exist to reign over the victim's mind; every action and thought is based on the direction given by this commanding presence. For example, an anorexic looks at food as being the enemy because she is told she does not deserve to eat. Constant exercising is penance for failing. Eating only crumbs or food that is spoiled is appropriate for someone so undeserving.
I n this way, anorexia's voices lay the foundation, and every instance builds upon it. Built is a system of beliefs, extremely distorted, but strong. Recall that anorexia's voices are held as the "truth", so, too, are the beliefs born of them.
Hunger is shameful Food is the enemy People are trying to make me fat Empty means happy
100 calories per day is too much Tasting food is eating I am in control; people are jealous Hunger is strength
Scales, measuring tapes are who I am Gaining weight means failure I will gain weight taking one bite My thighs, hips, waist are huge; I'm taking up too much space
Family and friends, begging and pleading for a loved one's cooperation, stand against these powerful messages. It is extremely difficult to make it understood that these messages are not the truth. Recovering from anorexia involves becoming open to the idea that the voices are misleading and harmful. Trusting this idea means trusting others and doing so while voices scream that others lie and only want to make you fat.
O nce I acknowledged that the voices guiding my life were the root of my unhappiness, I began to explore how and why anorexia took hold of my life. At this point, anorexia fights its hardest. Not wanting to be forsaken, its voices intensify. This is torture and the point at which it is easier to quit than move forward.
M oving forward requires a great deal of support along with the utilization of recovery tools. In time anorexia's voices lose strength and eventually retreat, allowing the individual to realize her value and feel lovable.