Face the fear 

In many cases recovery involves weight restoration. Recovery is NOT ABOUT weight restoration but is ultimately about freedom & health. Being and achieving a healthy weight, where you are able to live with energy, move with muscles and have enough fat for protection is a crucial and undeniable element of freedom.

 

I was so scared of gaining weight.

I was less afraid of dying than I was about eating more.

My fear of “getting fat” was stronger than all my other fears put together.

I was trapped & tortured by my fear.

 

I was told daily from my family, my friends & the professionals that, “I can’t get better, unless I gain weight”. I would shout back, “I want it to stop, I want to be better, I don’t want to be anorexic anymore... but I don’t want to gain weight!” Yet that’s exactly how I shot myself in the foot time and time again, as I knew I needed to gain weight in order to get better. My brain was starved and I couldn’t think logically, recovery is emotionally draining and I lacked the energy to sustain it, and I had no motivation to recover as I was physically incapable of doing anything, even moving my lips in my therapy sessions felt robotic.

 

I’m sure you have some questions ticking over in your mind, like:

How do you get over fear?

What even is fear?

How did I get over my fear?

How did I gain weight?

 

The truth is, I didn’t get over fear I just started facing it. My story changed, and my scenario changed, but I was still scared. There is nothing wrong with feeling scared, it is our actions against it what become of us.

Scenario A: Mum makes sandwich, Margi afraid of gaining weight, Margi refuses sandwich, Margi lets fear win.

Scenario B: Mum makes sandwich, Margi afraid of gaining weight, Margi eats sandwich, Margi faces fear, Margi has a cry, Mum gives a hug, Margi wins.

 

Now, scenario B is one hundred times harder but no one ever said recovery was easy, in honesty recovery is in fact a fist smashing mess. Scenario B may involve lots of tears and lots & lots of guilt, but the end result of scenario B is freedom, health and happiness... so really just eat the fucking sandwich and face the fear. And soon the more you choose scenario B the stronger you will become and the weaker the fear will feel.

 

If you want to recover fully from anorexia, you must feel the pain, face the fear, and just eat despite it. 

 

I used to think that I couldn't possibly live without Ana, I would think, “How the f**k will I be able to deal with my emotions without overexercising, purging and restricting.” I would panic thinking, “What would I fill up my day with if I didn't go to the gym for hours trying to waste time away, how would I squeeze in enough exercise to burn off food if I didn't restrict on it, how would I cope with not being sick if I didn't restrict?”.  All these questions flew around my head making it so hard to let go of Ana. 

 

But the truth is that all these questions stem from fear, the fear of feeling guilty, the fear of gaining weight and the fear of not feeling worthy. The truth is that... When you face fear, the questions disappear and the recovery begins. I can proudly say that I still feel fear and I face it everyday. But fear is not to be feared, fear is to be faced. 

 Photography by: Jim Dooley

Photography by: Jim Dooley

Margherita Barbieri