Discovering the Truth Beneath My Eating Disorder: Part 2

February 11, 2011 Angela E. Gambrel

Developing anorexia nervosa in my early forties still feels a bit surreal. As I begin to recover and regain health, I am looking for answers that might not ever be found. Why would a woman with no previous history of any eating disorder suddenly fall into the hole of anorexia starting at the age of 41?

Like Alice in Wonderland, I have been moving through the strange world of anorexia perplexed by my very presence here. The questions continue to hammer at my brain.

Blaming Someone/Something For My Anorexia

question-mark1I could blame Dr. Atkins and his stupid low carbohydrate diet. It was 2001 and I was somewhat overweight. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in my early twenties and was placed on a well-known green and white antidepressant. This was my first experience with psychiatric medication, and the psychiatrist prescribing it had a rather cavalier attitude and told me it was just a pill like any other pill.

I was a slender, healthy weight before I began to take this medication, but slowly the pounds crept up. It was August 2001 and I decided I was going to lose weight. So I went off my medication and started the Atkins diet.

I was a great convert to the low-carb lifestyle, and my current psychiatrist believes that diet is how I first learned to restrict food. I completely banned bread and all other forms of carbs out of my life, and I quickly lost pounds and reached a healthy weight.

Weight loss success story number one.

As I wrote earlier, I became sick with a strange illness called hyperparathyroidism starting in 2006. My healthy weight became lower and lower, and the compliments began as I became positively tiny. Most people didn't know I was sick and just thought they were being nice by complimenting me on my weight loss. What woman doesn't like to hear she has lost weight?

Weight lost success story number two.

The combination of compliments and certain character traits, including perfectionism and anxiety, began to make me fearful of regaining the weight I had lost. My doctor told me I was too thin, and a dietician she sent me to officially diagnosed me with anorexia.

I didn't believe a word they said. I thought I was just fine. But just underneath the surface I was not fine. I was restricting and abusing laxatives, and losing more weight. The compliments had stopped, but the fear of gaining weight remained. I was trapped by anorexia.

I finally agreed to see an eating disorders psychiatrist in August 2009. He took one look at me and told me I was dying. I didn't believe I could die from this illness for years. And I didn't know why I had developed anorexia. It has been all crisis intervention for years.

I want to know now that I have reached a healthy weight and feel like full recovery will happen. I am just beginning to explore the reasons beneath my eating disorder. I do know that my lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression have something to do with it. I know that the fact that I have to be perfect at everything is another contributing factor.

But does anybody really know why she has developed an eating disorder? Is there really any cut-and-dry answers? Or are there only questions?

It feels maddening because I know at some point, I will have to let go of the questions and just move on.

What do those of you out there think? Do you question why you developed an eating disorder? Or have you decided to let it go and just recover?

(Go here to read part 1 of Discovering the Truth Beneath My Eating Disorder)

APA Reference
Gambrel, A. (2011, February 11). Discovering the Truth Beneath My Eating Disorder: Part 2, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 1 from

Author: Angela E. Gambrel

Discovering the Truth Beneath My Eating Disorder: Part 1 | Surviving ED
March, 16 2012 at 8:37 am

[...] 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 This entry was posted in About Angela, Anorexia Treatment, Anorexia Videos, Anxiety, Eating [...]

Kate White
February, 12 2011 at 11:03 am

Why one particular disorder is a hard thing, I think. Versus what do I get out repeating behaviors or why does it feel better to be one way and not another at any given moment. Those are, relatively, pretty easy to get at.
Maybe just the wanting answers is enough? It's a good thing, I think - helps me with the whole PTSD recovery thing anyway but I don't know how well that translates across for an ED.

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