I struggle with this question daily. At some level, I know I need to eat to stay alive but it’s never that simple for me or anyone who’s battles an eating disorder (ED). It becomes an internal debate with Ana (slang for anorexia) or Mia (slang for bulimia). I’ve never had to deal with Mia, so I can only imagine what an internal debate with Mia is like, and I’m sure it’s different in some ways from an internal debate with Ana while in other ways similar. Since I’ve never battled or had an internal debate with Mia, I am writing this from an Ana perspective; not that those with Ana don’t oftentimes have a purging aspect for some do.
Me: I’m hungry
Ana: No, you’re not; you only think you’re hungry.
Me: I’m going to eat that piece of (insert any item of food here)
Ana: You can’t eat that! It’s going to make you fat/gain weight!
Me: I’m hungry
Ana: You have no will power
Me excitedly: I’ve reached my goal weight!
Ana: Congratulations! You’d look even better if you lost another five pounds since you’re still fat.
Me excitedly: I’ve lost another pound!
Ana: Don’t get so excited, it’s only one pound, and you’re still fat
Someone else: Have you eaten today?
Ana: Lie to them otherwise they are going to make you eat and you’ll get fat.
Me: But I can’t lie to them about that
Ana: Yes you can and you will, unless you’re too weak and want them to take me away from you
Me: Yes, I’ve eaten today
Someone else: I’ve made dinner, would you like some?
Ana: No, you can’t eat, you’ll get fat!
Me: Um, no thanks I ate before I came over
These are but a few examples of the internal debate with Ana that goes through my head constantly anytime the topic of food comes up. There is never a just eat something for anyone with an ED. To eat or not to eat is a constant internal battle with Ana who typically wins in the end anyway. I’m sure the internal debate with Mia is similar but things like knowing where you’ll throw up afterwards plays a part in the internal debate with Mia.
Some people may wonder why those with an ED give them names like Ana or Mia, or how we can have an internal debate with something that is essentially a part of our own brain. First, it makes it easier for us to talk about our ED. Second, most people with an ED tend to see the ED as something that’s a part of themselves and yet separate from themselves at the same time. I am not my ED and it’s easier for me to separate my ED from myself by seeing it as something that has taken up residence within my head and giving it a name makes that easier; yet another demon within to wage war against.
Peace, love, and contentment,
PS. While writing this post I did a Google search on “internal debate with Ana” and my blog post Ana & the Life Savers Candy was the top listing. I’m not sure if this makes me happy or sad. I’m happy my blog shows up in Google searches, but sad at the same time because it’s not my first post about the internal debate with Ana.