Discovering the Truth Beneath My Eating Disorder: Part 1

February 4, 2011 Angela E. Gambrel

I reached my healthy goal weight weeks ago. I continue to eat well and maintain my weight. I am feeling more alive than I have in years, and I would like to forget I ever had anorexia nervosa and move on to real life.

It isn't that easy. Now I need to discover why I developed an eating disorder at the age of 42 and resisted recovery for years until I almost lost everything, including my life.questionmarkToday I saw my eating disorders psychiatrist and asked him, "Why? Why did I develop anorexia? Why did I hold onto it for so long?" I want some answers now that I am feeling better, and we will be talking about this for a while as I continue along the path to full recovery. Any eating disorder does not stop when there is either weight restoration or stabilization, not is recovery complete just because the outward signs of the eating disorder have stopped.

There are reasons I developed anorexia. I need to find out those reasons in order to stay fully recovered because I believe there is power in knowledge.

My psychiatrist says I was seduced by anorexia, that I found in it something so alluring that made it very hard to give up. I had to reach a point where anorexia was no longer enticing and I could loosen its grip on my body and soul. I had to hit rock bottom.

I finally realized that anorexia could no longer be an option. But now I question — why did I turn to anorexia in the first place?

It was a long path and involved an unrelated illness that caused me to lose a significant amount of weight. This happened during 2006 and 2007. I received a lot of compliments on my weight loss, even though I had not been heavy before. There was a short period of time in the fall of 2007 that I thought I was too thin — if only I had held onto that thought! — and told my husband that I was going to try and eat more to regain the weight I had lost.

The mystery is why I didn't follow through on my plan, and veered toward anorexia. It was during the holidays of 2007 that I began to develop serious anorexic behaviors, including restricting of food and abusing laxatives. I quickly moved onto counting every single calorie that went into my mouth, and soon I was weighing myself multiple times each day. I was thrilled with each pound lost, and that is when I think I became locked into anorexia. I was stuck and couldn't find my way out.

I do have some answers, and I will explore them more fully in next week's post. This is what I know: I am a perfectionist who has struggled with anxiety and depression my entire life. I understand that is the "perfect storm" for the creation of anorexia. I walked right into that storm and for quite a while, never knew what hit me.

Discovering the Truth Beneath My Eating Disorder: Part 2

APA Reference
Gambrel, A. (2011, February 4). Discovering the Truth Beneath My Eating Disorder: Part 1, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Author: Angela E. Gambrel

Lindsay Upton
July, 9 2014 at 3:55 am

I am thinking of stopping my therapy sessions. I have gained weight but struggle everyday to lose it. In fact the therapy sessions have put more pressure on me than before. Every time I go I get weighed, this causes incredible stress on me. Where can I find the strength to be content with this body of mine? Why is it that I want to be close to my therapist? Is it because she knows things about me that no one else knows and I need to keep her close because of what she knows about me. I am so confused, I don't want to keep seeing her and yet I can't let go because I would then have no one who understands me!

Jennifer Denise Ouellette
March, 5 2014 at 5:00 pm

I hope that since you wrote this post, you realize that it was the weight loss that triggered your disease. Keep your weight up and you will be good!

Julie Greene
December, 18 2012 at 9:20 am

I agree with Annie, what she says makes a lot of sense. However, weight gain does not solve the problem. For a few, it might, but for me, it only gave me even lower self-esteem eventually. I guess folks sensed this because they saw the negativity in me and I got kicked out of my support group, kicked out everywhere I went. I then made the very conscious decision to return to starving myself. I feel I have no choice.

Angela E. Gambrel Lackey
February, 8 2011 at 7:25 am

Thanks, and you do have a good point. I am looking for some answers to make sure I never become imprisoned by anorexia again. But I am learning to forgive myself, and my main focus is continuing to get well and stay that way!

February, 7 2011 at 5:10 pm

Angela, my understanding is that anorexia is a mental illness triggered by malnutrition. This seems to be exactly what happened to you, the weight loss was for an unrelated cause-it tripped up your brain chemistry and sent you into anorexic thinking. You were predisposed to this illness, not everyone who loses weight would become ill like this but you are predisposed. Something different about your brain chemistry that we don't quite understand yet. I am not sure how people can get better if they beat themselves up looking for the "truth" behind their eating disorder? And punish themselves by calling themselves names such as "perfectionist" and berating themselves for holding on to anorexia as an option? Please be gentle with yourself, you are a human like the rest of us, don't go on a witch hunt within yourself to understand the "truth". Doesn't it make more sense to accept that you had an illness and focus on skills you need to stay well????

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