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Self-Hatred and Eating Disorders

Fat.

Stupid.

Ugly.

Weak.

Never good enough.

Self-hatred is a core feeling in many people suffering from eating disorders.

Including me.

I’ve been having an internal war with myself today.

I’m too fat. I shouldn’t eat. You don’t deserve to eat. Don’t be so weak…

My head hurt. My stomach hurt. Even my brain hurt.

Eventually I give in, starving. Then…

You’re a fat, disgusting pig.

Sound familiar?

I recently finished reading Portia de Rossi’s memoir of anorexia and bulimia, Unbearable Lightness.

What struck me was how alike our internal voices were.

De Rossi loathed herself. She thought she was fat. She thought she was ugly. And she hated that she was gay.

“You’re nothing…You have no self-control. You’re a stupid, fat, disgusting dyke.”

Other than berating herself for being a lesbian, de Rossi treated herself exactly the way I did — and sometimes still do.

I read a lot of memoirs about anorexia and bulimia while completing my master’s thesis. Shani Raviv chronicled her unrelenting self-hatred in her memoir, being Ana (yes, I hate the title, but bear with me.) This self-hatred almost cost her her family, her sanity, and her life.

I’ve read old journals that chronicle my self-hatred from an early age. I never felt I was good enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough.

Then I became anorexic.

The self-hatred became rampant.

I also kept a journal from this time. I would write how much I hated myself. How I was so weak. How I didn’t deserve food. How I didn’t deserve to live.

The more weight I lost, the worst I felt about myself. That’s how it works whether you have anorexia or bulimia or binge eating disorder. The more enmeshed you become in the eating disorder behaviors, the worst you are going to feel, and that includes how you feel about yourself.

Raviv had to learn to love herself in order to heal. As did de Rossi and others. And so will I.

I believe self-love is the opposite of self-hatred, and is necessary for full recovery from eating disorders.

Why is that so hard for me?

I’m not completely sure. Some days I get it. If I don’t love myself, who will? If I don’t love myself enough to take care of myself, who will?

It is so hard to let go of something that has been a part of me for so long, even pre-anorexia.

I now realize that self-hatred is a trait I can no longer afford to hold onto. I will not be able to fully heal.

Each day is still a struggle, but I am fighting.

And winning.

8 thoughts on “Self-Hatred and Eating Disorders”

  1. exactly how I feel everyday and every hour of my life. Except, instead of not eating, I binge which doubles these feelings. The self-hatred is killing me from the inside. I definitely feel the same as you described. My brain hurts, my stomach hurts, all of my body aches. I don’t see the point to live with a constant self-hatred. So what? I will look back one day and all I remember is this feeling? Disgusted of myself for wasting a life like that… There are such bigger problems in the world and I am consumed with this. That is why I don’t think I deserve to have all that I have. Hopefully, I can overcome this disgust and disappointment soon. Otherwise I can’t imagine the next 10 years.

  2. I know exactly how you feel I’ve had a battle with pro-Mia and pro-Ana for a little over 4 years now it is a struggle my boyfriend tries to help me through it don’t let it get to the point where even your significant other can’t help you. I also battle with cutting I’ve been a compulsive self harmer for 6 years it’s tough but you guys are doing great fighting the battle keep it up guys at times it seems hard to find the light at the end of the tunnel but single, married or in a relationship just know you matter to so many people. That’s what help keeps me going I hope it can help you guys too

  3. I too am a 40-something anorexic/bulimic/addict who hates herself. I have always felt this self-hatred even before I became ill. I have been fighting this war for 25 years and I want to stay positive but the older I get the more difficult it becomes. I have tried suicide several times…now i am too scared to try again because I cant get it right and I dont want to wake up angry I didnt die. It has happened every time. I am just so tired….I wasted my life being a professional anorexic/bulimic and all I have to show for it is missing teeth and weak bones. Im scared. Scared of living and of dying…..I just want to either live my life while my heart is still beating, or die and make this hell on earth stop.

  4. That’s such an interesting concept, to ‘love yourself’. It could be the answer to so, so many problems. It suggests to me something to do with ‘surrender’. To give yourself up to something that is in you, urging completion. And yet the something is yourself. How can this be? It’s you but it’s more than you. This is a problem that affects us all massively today, whether or not you have an eating disorder. The disorder is not quite being able to get to the surrender of loving yourself. I can’t help you with the ED but I think the real problem is a human one.
    Sorry, I’m just thinking out loud and it’s not really relevant to the blog.

  5. I totally relate to this. I do not have an eating disorder, but I have a compulsion to self-harm. I am covered in scars. Every time the cycle of self-hatred you describe starts up, I am immersed in it so quickly — like a tidal wave — and it will not stop for a long long time. I take medications and receive ECT, am hospitalized and diagnosed and rediagnosed — but underlying everything I do is fierce self-hatred. I am so in awe of and inspired by your decision to turn away from that and be kind to yourself. I have not been able to do that yet. Thank you so much for this post.

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