“Wannarexia” and distraction

Today I found myself in the awkward situation of someone telling me they thought I was mentally better than I used to be. I don’t know why, but sometimes I find it impossible to accept positive statements like that. It makes me afraid that I have let go of my eating disorder (even if I have literally done something very eating disordered that day, but hidden it).

I also sometimes find these kind of conversations make me worry that I’m just a dumb teenager who think having an ed is cool. I don’t think it is cool, but I do, on some level, like the fact that I have one. It might sound sick and wrong, but that is the honest truth:

my eating disorder gives me a purpose, an identity, a way to shut things out.

Realistically speaking, the fact I want to hold onto it is probably proof to any sane individual that I do have a disorder, but hey, my mind isn’t the most logical when it comes to these things.

Can you really be wannarexic? Can you admire a mental illness without being mentally ill? Surely, if you find such a destructive disorder attractive then you must have a problem?

In other news, I was trying to do some exposure therapy today by sitting in the middle of a large group and trying to openly drink something that wasn’t diet version WITHOUT distracting myself from the negative feelings this provoked. It was tough, and during a moment when my mind was trying its hardest to escape the panic going on, I got to thinking about what my ed does for me….distract.

When I was worried about having made a mistake today, the worry shifted and became I’m worried everyone will have thought I looked gross.

When I was worried about picking up the paperwork for something on Saturday, the worry shifted and became It is more important to plan my food for tomorrow.

When I got cross at the way someone was behaving earlier, the anger shifted and became it is my fault. When I’m thinner I won’t feel this way.

I have never noticed the way my mind seamlessly translates anything negative into an ed thought. Wow…


8 thoughts on ““Wannarexia” and distraction

  1. I do the same thing. I hadn’t really connected it, but I do. Especially thinking things like “when I’m thinner I won’t feel this way.” Because I must think that being thinner will solve all my problems.

    When I feel bad about my performance in work or sport or relationships, I often turn that into that thoughtspiral that I looked horrible, folks saw how fat i was – start obsessing about how horrid I look so that I don’t think about how uncomfortable I am.

    I don’t know about the wannarexia thing. I think there are those with eating disorders, especially EDNOS, who want to be anorexic and are obsessed with it. That’s different. I also think there are lots of girls who play with eating disordered behaviors for a hundred different reasons. Some of those behaviors look and sound “wannarexic.” They might never cross into the clinical spectrum, or do so only briefly. Kind of like the “I used to be anorexic for three months in high school” thing. Or the “disordered eater.” And then there are those who have a serious mental health issue that makes them feel the need to attract negative attention by imitating a mental disorder. I had a friend like that. She would self-injure (mildly) in front of others in order to get attention and care. She would also mimic my eating disordered behavior by (loudly) not eating sometimes. She needed help – but maybe not for an eating disorder or self injury.

    But… there’s a difference – a BIG one – between an eating disordered individual wanting/needing to hold onto their eating disorder… and these folks. One is ED-pathology, the other is not.

    I had a therapist tell me “its working for you – why would you stop, if its working for you? the negatives don’t yet outweigh the positives…” <- that's it, for me, in a nutshell.

    Anyway – sorry for the essay!

    • Don’t apologise, it was a good essay haha!
      Really interesting view on the whole wannarexia thing. And think I agree with you. An ed is never “just a phase”, where as playing and trying out those behaviours is. Given that, I cant deny my problem. I have spent quite a few years now feeling dominated by ed thoughts and behaviours.
      I guess that there is a cross over though in regards to wanting attention, as for me, my ed sometimes becomes an expression that I’m struggling when I’m unable to actually cry out for help if that makes sense.
      Hope you are having a good day Xx

  2. Hey, been reading a while but don’t think I ever commented before… What you’ve described makes so much sense and I think letting go is the hardest part of recovery, if you ever go for that. I think you get to the point when ED defines you. I know personally I never managed to let go which is where recovery failed for me.

    Always hated it when someone commented I looked/ seemed better, then I wondered ‘do I want to be seen as sick?’ ‘Do I think people won’t believe me if I don’t look ill.’ Appearances can be deceptive. EDs are rarely about food/ weight. They’re usually about something deeper. Maybe we’re trying to show the world what’s going on, perhaps we’re all a little wannarexic?

    • It is difficult to detach yourself from the disorder. I certainly don’t really know which is which a lot of the time! Glad I’m not alone, I hope you find a way out of the negativity one day.:)

  3. I don’t know about wannarexic, but I think it’s very normal to have trouble letting go of an identity that once brought you so much purpose and reasoning. That was your validation, your excuse for so many things. When things went wrong, you could blame it on your eating disorder. When you let go of the eating disorder, you have to look more internally at your mistakes, flaws, etc. and that can be extremely daunting. Also, eating disorders tend to be attention-seeking, whether we admit it or not, and sometimes, we worry that without these disorders, nobody will take care of us.

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