Your Identity Is More than an Eating Disorder

August 12, 2020 Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

Can I share a fundamental, irrevocable truth that you just might need to hear? Your personal identity is more than an eating disorder. Even if you cannot imagine a life without this illness right now, I want you to know that recovery is attainable, and you are capable of existing in a world that does not revolve around your eating disorder. How can I voice this with absolute confidence? The answer is simple—in these past few years, I have been on a crusade to unearth and reclaim my own identity outside the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa; so if I can do this, I guarantee you have the same potential, too. 

How I Discovered an Identity Apart from My Eating Disorder

Before I made the decision to fully commit to eating disorder recovery, one specific—albeit irrational—fear kept me buried in the trenches of my illness. I was convinced that no other identity could even be within reach apart from this label. I had grown familiar and comfortable being known as "the sick girl," this hollow and frail shadow of a human. What kind of person would I be if "anorexic" was no longer stamped into my existence? Would I be able to accept this new version of myself? Or would I feel a sense of disconnect from whoever I might become on the other side of this healing process?

In other words, I was afraid to recover because I had not yet realized that my identity could be more than an eating disorder. It took a series of painful—sometimes even traumatic—rock bottom moments to shove me in the direction of healing. The journey was arduous and overwhelming, but it introduced me to a peculiar notion that maybe I had more to offer the world than just an emaciated body. This gave me the freedom and permission to discover myself without an eating disorder at the controls.

I learned that I have a deep well of empathy for others. I learned that I am a passionate writer, creator, and social justice warrior. I learned that I can show my romantic side when an '80s love song reduces me to tears. I learned that I value honesty and remain true to my word. I learned that I can be vulnerable without feeling weak. I learned that I am a committed friend and devoted spouse. I learned that I am worthy of care, respect, affirmation, kindness, trust, dignity, and self-love. I learned to embrace my own human identity outside the influence of an eating disorder.     

Reclaim Your Identity from the Eating Disorder's Control

No matter your racial, gender, cultural, or socioeconomic background, you have a unique identity that an eating disorder cannot revoke. Whether you are creative or analytical, fierce or tender, outspoken or reserved, balanced or headstrong, these character traits and personality quirks inform how you see the world. The eating disorder cannot snuff out your individual spark, nor can it undermine your inherent worth as a human being. The value of personhood is not measured in pounds, and your identity is more than just an eating disorder. I hope you will reclaim this truth for yourself.

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2020, August 12). Your Identity Is More than an Eating Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

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