Honesty is in Healing
**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
Megan Bazzini is a writer—an aspiring YA novelist, cringe-worthy poet, and mental health essayist. She’s also a business school grad who has lived in LA, Hong Kong, and Milan. Now she’s returned home to New York, where she is a proud chihuahua rescue mom and works in technology strategy. Megan’s eating disorder recovery mantra is, “Keep going. Recovery is worth it.” You can follow her on Twitter (@BazziniBooks), visit her portfolio, or read more of her work on her blog, Butterfly Mind.
Eating disorders are the unreliable narrators of our lives. They can convince us that some foods are evil and others are safe and that certain body sizes are a failure while others are a success.
The eating disorder instills in us a set of beliefs and rules to be followed. I was great at following those orders, and the list grew as the disease progressed. Meanwhile, my personality shrunk into a withdrawn husk of the person I was before sickness.
My eating disorder convinced me that its lies and whispers would solve every problem I could imagine. So I had to become a liar. My anorexia could not have existed without dishonesty. I was armed with excuses about false food allergies, not needing to eat, and having eaten elsewhere. I lied about where I spent my free time to hide my exercise habits. I lied so many times to my family and friends, as well as to doctors about my symptoms. Most of all, I lied to myself about the behaviors that sustained my eating disorder.
As the eating disorder progressed, I hid my shrunken self behind baggy clothes. Malnourishment and the starvation mindset drove me to steal, something I never have considered at healthy nourishment levels. I’m not proud of that.
Looking back, it scares me to discover how the eating disorder manipulated me. I’m sharing these lies and sneaky ways that eating disorders go undetected because if myself and my loved ones fell for it, then so can others. Silence, denial, and trickery do not negate the very real mental illness that is an eating disorder.
Being malnourished and stuck in illness prevented me from seeing those falsehoods as construcions my eating disorder used to protect itself. I genuinely thought I was doing the right thing by protecting the false sense of safety my eating disorder provided. In an even more intoxicating way, it made me feel special. It’s only natural that I wouldn’t want anyone to come between me and what had become my best friend. It’s one of anorexia’s mind-bending complexities. I was so aware of how painful it was to use behaviors, and yet, I felt unable to make any positive changes.
During recovery, I’ve begun to reconcile with the shame and guilt I feel as a result of the harm my lies caused myself and others. I want to remind those in recovery, as well as loved ones cheering them on, that these lies can be righted.
Honesty blooms the day someone admits out loud that they need help. The recovery battle requires constantly defying the eating disorder’s manipulation. I’ve relied on my team to hold me accountable when the lies start trickling in. I hope this vulnerable honesty can encourage you and your loved ones to keep embracing the truth.