Dr. James Wilson to House: You don’t like yourself. But you do admire yourself. It’s all you’ve got so you cling to it. You’re so afraid if you change, you’ll lose what makes you special. Being miserable doesn’t make you better than anybody else, House. It just makes you miserable.
Ok, so I don’t admire myself, but I can relate to the rest of it.
When my eating disorder started 11 years ago, a lot of it had to do with being special. Growing up, I had always received attention for being thin – relatives or other people would comment on how skinny I was, or how I had “long and skinny legs” or something. As I hit puberty and started to gain weight, I freaked out that I was losing this thing that made me special. It wasn’t that I wanted lots of attention for being thin, it was just what I thought I needed to be in order to get the normal love/recognition that everybody wants. Just like some people are special because they get good grades or are pretty, I thought that the only thing that could make me special was being thin.
But as I slowly came to realize, the eating disorder didn’t make me special – it just made me miserable and further removed from my friends and family. Furthermore, it has now taken me further away from life goals that might actually make me feel accomplished.
So, if I no longer think that being thin will make me special, why do I still struggle with accepting weight gain? I think now the issue at play is my fear of neediness and my guilt over being very fortunate in life. With regards to neediness, I know that never needing anyone or anything doesn’t make me special, and frankly it is an unrealistic expectation. However, I still feel bad when I can’t be 100% independent, and I think that relates to a bigger issue of feeling guilty for the fortunes I have been handed in life.
In my IOP group the other day we were talking about skills for dealing with a crisis situation, one of which is comparing yourself to others who are worse off than you. This does not work for me at all because it only leaves me feeling guilty for all that I am blessed with in my life. I am very lucky to be blessed with a very supportive family, financially and otherwise. However, I find myself constantly feeling guilty for the fact that I don’t have to work right now, that I can live at home while doing treatment, and that I didn’t have to take out undergraduate loans. As a result, I often find myself trying to compensate for this feeling by taking on lots of demands and forcing myself to constantly stay busy to the point where I am feeling really run down and miserable.
Recently though, I have been trying to say no to requests and take time for myself by reminding myself of what Wilson says. People who have to overcome major adversity deserve all the admiration they receive, but in the same way that House is not any better than others because he is suffering, not having to overcome these obstacles doesn’t make me any less of a person. The fact that I don’t have to work myself to death right now or that I can go to my parents for help with things doesn’t make me any less deserving of happiness than those who are not blessed like I am. And making myself miserable to compensate for these guilty feelings do anything except make me miserable.