Maybe a year ago, I was sitting on the floor of my dietitian’s office, my untouched lunch on the coffee table in front of me.

“What are you really afraid of? You’re not afraid of food.”

Her words felt piercing. Who was she to tell me what I am or am not afraid of?

My head felt hollow. There is nothing there. All I can think about is trying to make myself smaller. There isn’t anything else in there. “I am afraid of food. I’m terrified of becoming fat.”

That day was hard. I tried to eat, the main goal of the session, and my body didn’t want to let me. It was humiliating. I completely broke down: shaking, crying, hyperventilating.

Sound familiar?

The exact same fear I felt over food that day (and many other days), is the fear I’m feeling now. The difference is I am a million percent positive it has nothing to do with food. I am still afraid of my body increasing in size. But that layer is the outermost layer of what’s going on inside. That layer is the obvious layer, the easily peeled off part of the onion. That layer is where I divert my attention when deeper layers are overwhelmingly difficult to peel back. It’s easier to believe I need to lose weight than it is to expose what I’m really afraid of.

My progress notes must look like this: [client’s] autonomic nervous system is off the charts deregulated. Affect matched mood 50% of session. [Client] is taking a painstakingly long time on working on regulation. Continues to grossly overestimate size of her body. Admits suicide ideation. [Client] somehow both overly aware of self and dissociated from self. Therapeutic interventions included SE and CBT but a tiny bit of every modality that exists was involved. Return in 3-4 days, but probably sooner because mental state is consistently shit. Prognosis is good but [client] thinks it’s poor.

[Sarcasm and some resemblance of a sense of humor has resurfaced thanks to an increase in nutrition and way to cope with everything that I view as fucked up in my life.]

Fear manifests itself in every cell in my body. It impacts every part of my life. It stops me dead in my tracks from moving forward. And the only way I have been able to make sense of the fear that lives very intensely and deeply in my body is through an eating disorder. If I let all my fear out, I will let my eating disorder go. If I surrender my eating disorder completely, I lose how things make sense in my head. If I lose how things make sense in my head, I will actually become crazy, because things have to make sense.

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