From House M.D. Season 2, Episode 19 House vs. God:
Wilson: Because when it comes to being in control, Gregory House leaves our faith healer kid in the dust…because if the universe operates by abstract rules, you can learn them and you can protect yourself.
This quote made me think about all of the rules I have related to both the eating disorder and just life in general.
The first part of the quote uses the word control, and that kind of bothers me. I know that is a very stereotypical thing that people say – that eating disorders are about control. I have also heard a lot of people in treatment say that they turned to their eating disorder as a way to have control over one thing when other things were in chaos. However, I honestly don’t think my eating disorder has a lot to do with control. I actually never feel in control when I am engaged in eating disorder symptoms. I feel like I could always do a better job being in control – I could always eat less, I could always exercise more. So, I don’t really relate to the part about being in control.
However, I very much relate to the part that says “because if the universe operates by abstract rules, you can learn them and you can protect yourself.” For me, the eating disorder provides a set of rules that I can learn and use to keep out negative emotions. There are A LOT of rules – eat X number of calories, get X amount of exercise, weigh X amount of pounds, eat these certain “safe” foods, don’t eat these other foods etc. I don’t have anything or anyone in particular that I am trying to protect myself from, but as long as my primary focus is on these rules, I am protected in a way from having to experience uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. Rather than thinking about big questions like whether or not to get my PhD, I think about what to eat for dinner. Rather than feeling hopeless or sad, I focus on making obeying my eating disorder rules.
The problem is that while focusing on these rules makes me feel better in the short term, in the long term it does the exact opposite of protect me. It feels like I’m protecting myself from things that are uncomfortable, but all I am doing is keeping myself trapped in this eating disorder bubble that ultimately robs me of any sense of accomplishment or meaning in life. It’s hard to let the rules go, but ultimately being more open and will lead to better things that will in turn hopefully protect me from the lure of the eating disorder itself.