Struggling With Suicidal Thoughts In Eating Disorder Recovery
Trigger warning: this post involves frank discussion of suicide and a suicidical thoughts.
The suicidal thoughts that plagued my mind in the throes of my eating disorder recovery were expected. I hated my body. I hated myself. I hated my life and the society in which I lived that kept telling me I was not enough. One thing I did not expect was to still feel suicidal thoughts during my eating disorder recovery.
Part of the problem resided in my understanding of recovery: I thought recovery was supposed to be a panacea and that when I consciously entered it, the darkest parts of disease would abate. They didn’t. Not even close. Even years after I’d stopped intentionally starving myself and binge eating and purging, darkness persisted. It’s easier to change your actions than your thoughts, in my experience at least. You can fake your actions.
My therapist once told me that having anxiety is like having an allergy to fear. My anxiety about my ability to rid my brain of my dark thoughts was off the charts. My therapist had once told me something else, though. She’d said that I didn’t have to believe everything I thought. She said that anxiety is a liar.
So, for 365 days, I told myself I was not going to believe anything negative my anxiety told me. If it told me I was going to gain 40 lbs just because I had some of my kid’s birthday cake, I’d ignore it. If it told me I’d wasted too much of my life to my sickness, I ignored it. I was going to believe in the magic of life again, just for a year, and if after a year, things hadn’t changed and I still had suicidal thoughts in my eating disorder recovery, I told myself I could take on the darkness. I could throw my life away. I could eat and drink myself to death if I wanted to, but for one year I was going to believe, relentlessly, in the beauty in my life
If this sounds overly simplistic, it’s not. It’s simple make promises, but infinitely harder to keep them. Over the next year, I had to fight down dark thoughts but within a few months, I was seeing how my fear had no place to live if I didn’t give it space.
I still have dark thoughts now, but I don’t battle with suicidal thoughts every single day. I have learned that you can’t ignore your problems, but I’ve also learned that you don’t have to engage every thought that enters your head.
How did you overcome suicidal thoughts during eating disorder recovery? Share in the comments!
If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.
For more information on suicide, see our suicide information, resources and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section.