[[Side Notes: Denial

(Warning: Numbers are included in this post
so if you are easily triggered, please do not read this post)

I get many emails from readers and other bloggers about my steps in recovery.  It has been a very long journey going on for over 8 years, with it’s ups and downs all over the place, but the question I get asked the most about recovery is the first step.  What did I do?  Who did I go to?  What happened?

I have written previously about how I first got help, with a hall mate of mine confronting me about my weakening figure.  We went to a counselor at my college together to get some help in hopes of getting me healthy again and away from feeling guilty about food and my body.

That’s just one part of the first step towards my recovery though.  All in all, yes it was essential that I got help to help me get better, but I had to accept something first:




For the month leading up to this event, I thought I was just “getting healthier” and “avoiding junk food” to reverse the effect that going to college and have so much food at my disposal had created.  I thought I was doing everything right and was just losing the weight I had gained since I had arrived.  I ended up losing a lot more than I gained, but at that point it became an attitude of well, maybe just a few more pounds.  It was no longer about those initial 10lbs I had gained, it was as far as I could get.

I remember vividly standing on the scale at the gym after a workout when I was in college as a freshman.  I had just been to a counseling appointment and had lied my butt off about how I was feeling.  I was always ashamed going to those appointments, like I had let down everyone in my life by developing this problem.  There was so much guilt in having this disease that it just made everything else I did feel just as guilty.  It was a big circle of self-destruction. 

I remember seeing the number on the scale and feeling so pissed.  I was so angry that I had gained a pound in a few days and immediately starting working out how I was going to lose it.  I sat on a stretching bench, beating myself up on the inside and it finally hit me: I WAS SICK.  There was no way that I should be mad that I weighed 102 pounds at 5’6” and that I had gained one in a short matter of time.  I had never felt like this before and IT WAS NOT NORMAL OR HEALTHY.

I remember several discussions with my best college friend at the time, talking about my recovery and I could not for the life of me say the word ANOREXIA.  It left such a bitter taste in my mouth, made my heart jump and hands shake.  I could say EATING DISORDER, but something about saying the “A” word was super bothersome.  I would literally stand in front of the mirror in my room and try to say it out loud.  In my head it was doable, but out into the air it seemed impossible.

It took me a very long time to say it out loud, I think almost two years.  I remember talking to the same friend and we both cried as I slowly but without a doubt said out loud, “Yes, I am sick. Yes, I have an eating disorder.  Yes, I have ANOREXIA.” 

It was such a liberating moment and I think one that is quite essential to recovery.  Why is this essential?  If you’re in denial of your ED like I was in the beginning, there is no matter of counseling or talking with people that will help you get better.  You have to admit and believe that you have a problem and that you have to do something to figure it out.  Without this admission, you’ll probably end up doing a lot of what I did: LIE.  I lied so much about my emotions, how I felt physically and mentally that I could have written an entire book on the lies I told.  It never helped that I didn’t tell the truth, and in the end made me feel worse because I was lying to the people that I loved.  Who ever wants to lie to their friends and family?

So take home message: in order to start your recovery, you cannot be in denial.  I think it’s such an important step to take and after admitting it, will make you feel so.much.stronger;  that you will be able to defeat the disease and move past it living the life you were supposed to.  It also does not mean that you are any less of a person to admit this, it means that you are ready to start recovering. ]]


I”ll be back tonight with a real food post!  I’ve actually been taking pictures of my foods; aren’t you proud of me?!  Until then, this is life:


This entry was posted in Side Notes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Denial

  1. Katie says:

    You are brave. You are awesome. Keep on keeping on! An email will come your way soon :-)
    You've got a friend in Pennsylvania,

  2. Tessa @ Amazing Asset says:

    Well you know I can relate to this as I wrote something a bit similar a few days ago… Thank you for opening up about this on your blog and keep going strong lady

  3. blossjoss says:

    Thank you for this post! I've done well with "recovery" on my own, but I don't think I could say I have an eating disorder out loud. Still in denial I guess. I've got some thinking to do.

  4. graduategourmande says:

    This is seriously amazing. It's everything I felt, exactly. I knew I was sick and looked like shit, but I never wanted to admit it out loud. Even though I knew, my official diagosis made me cry. And I really still don't like saying the "A" word, although I don't have a problem with admitting my eating disorder. You're awesome.

  5. sarah says:

    You are so right. The 'A' word is hard to say when you're in the thick of it. For me, the fact that so many other women seemed to have 'eating issues' meant I was in denial for a long time. I think Marya Hornbacher talks about that in "Wasted" – how it's so hard to figure out what 'normal' is when you can't seem to find any examples around you. Women taking bites of salad and leaving most on the plate. Women hanging out on cardio machines for hours at the gym. Women poking and prodding themselves whilst complaining about the size of their thighs in public bathrooms. It's so easy to deny you have anorexia when it seems like you're just a little bit more obsessed than the women you encounter in every day life.

    Great side note!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I've been reading your blog for a while, but this is the first time I've been compelled to leave a comment. Thank you for this post; far from triggering, the numbers were actually really helpful to me, because over the last year, I've developed a pretty bad relationship with food, exercise and guilt. I'm about the same height as you and dropped down to 106, but I never thought that it was a problem, even though I was clearly restricting my intake. People were complementing me! It can be really hard to admit that you're not in the best place with your self-image, but you're right, that's the most important step toward getting better. I've gained weight since then, and I can actually run a lot further and faster because I'm not so weak anymore. So thank you again! Your blog is so helpful and honest.

  7. proudpatriot07 says:

    You are totally brave to share everything you share in here. I know I could never do it. I can't say the A word either and one of my coworkers has said it several times. It still cuts deep when she says it. I say ED. Saying it just makes it seem so real…

    It's so hard to know what to do with recovery. I mean, if you gain weight, people start talking. If you don't, people talk. The more you lose, the more people compliment you on your body- and it's pretty hard to think you're sick when you have people telling you your body looks great, just because I guess that's society's ideal of how a woman should look. They think it's a compliment and makes you feel good, and it winds up driving you deeper into the ED.


  8. Megan (The Runner's Kitchen) says:

    I don't always comment, but I always appreciate the honesty in your posts. Blogging is a way of expressing our feelings, but I think it's also a way of letting others know they're not alone. Fortunately, I've never suffered from a full blown eating disorder, but occasional disordered eating? Bad body image? Comparison to others? I've dealt with all of those. And I think the more we talk about it and set a positive examples and let others know what's NOT okay, the better things will be. Keep on doin' what you're doin' girl – you are brave and strong!

  9. NancyU says:

    You are one brave woman! We are all proud of you!

  10. Clare says:

    Super important post. I think one thing that helps is understanding that Anorexia is a disease just like any other medical disorder. People aren't embarrassed that they have cancer, so don't be embarrassed that you had anorexia. Accept it, be open about it, and move on. Not hiding it makes it SO much easier!

  11. Amy says:

    You are so brave in baring it all in a post like this. You are right, naming things is sometimes the scary part. Accepting a diagnosis is the first, horrid part of healing and unfortunately it usually takes us a while to move forward from this point.
    I'm so glad that your college friend was brave enough to say something to you and that you were brave enough to take steps back to recovery.

  12. mymarblerye says:

    I finished the portia de rossi book. It's amazing. you need to get it. On sale at barnes and nobles. It may be trigging though. But she siad it best…if any GUILT is associated with you or if there are ANY BAD or can't eat foods in your mind then it's DISORDERED eating. Eating and life is about moderation and not "can't"s.

  13. Adrienne says:

    This is my first comment even though your blog has been helping me for a while with my recovery. I completely understand your initial fear of the "A" word. At the end of the first therapy appointment, the psychiatrist doing the assessment looked me in the eyes and said "You're anorexic." As I burst into tears, she shooed me out the door. It was such a painful experience and had really hurt my recovery because I had gotten to the point where I could admit that I had an ED and even "I HAVE anorexia"- but her slight change of wording made it sound like the disease is me, which it's not. I am stronger than it and I'm going to recover.

  14. Emilie says:

    You are so strong. Congrats on being able to talk about this openly. It takes a heck of a woman to do so!

  15. poweredbypb says:

    Great post, as always.

  16. foodiesloveoatmeal says:

    I think its so important for teenage girls to learn the effects having an eating disorder has on their lives.

  17. Rachel says:

    You are a beautiful person Melissa :) I *LOVE* your blog. I really do.

    And you're oh-so-right on the denial issue. Even at my sickest I could never say the 'a' word either, it stuck in my throat, and still does if I am honest. I can so relate.

    It sounds silly perhaps, seeing as I only know you through reading here, but you are inspirational. Your bravery and honesty are so refreshing. Please take care and have a good day!

  18. Christine (The Raw Project) says:

    Amazing post, you really are brave for reaching out to others that may be struggling with an eating disorder.

  19. says:

    Hi! I have been reading your blog for awhile, and I truly am inspired by your honesty and courage. It always seems your side notes come at just the right time to remind me how important it is to properly take care of your mind, body, and spirit! I look forward to your posts and think you are doing such a great service to many of your readers!!!:)

Leave a Reply