Is breathing optional now, too?

During my daughter's recovery she felt resentful, and ashamed, about how much she needed to eat and how other people didn't seem to need as much. All my arguments about differing metabolism and explanations of the higher calorie needs of people recovering from malnutrition - didn't register. I know now that it is part of the illness to think that way about food even if the actual amount is a thimble-full of fresh lettuce.

I asked her "What if you discovered that you needed more oxygen, or that you metabolized trace minerals faster than others?" Would it allay the feeling of "taking too much" or the guilt of need more?

She said no. It would apply to oxygen, too. It would apply to anything. Her brain made her think she "shouldn't need" these things, or at least not need them any more than anyone else.

She no longer thinks this way, much. But I thought of that conversation when I read about people learning to not need to breathe: Holding Your Breath.

Just because you can, does that mean you should? Eating, sleeping, breathing: why are we determined to make these things avoidable?


  1. I would like to offer a bit of an answer to your question about why are we determined to make these things avoidable.

    For me, I felt like my life was whirling out of control. When I first began to struggle, was feeling helpless about some memories and all that wouldn't get out of my mind.

    I remember telling my Dr. how much more control I felt I had when I didn't eat. It is actually a comfort, gives me space, makes me feel separate from what is going on that bothers me, which I cannot control.

    She said, That raises a red flag.

    I guess it did.

    I've begun to lose weight again, and I am afraid to see my Dr. I don't want her to see. I am afraid she will look at me and want to weigh me again. We use a family Dr. and so from time to time one of the children needs to go.

    It really doesn't make sense to me. It is more just how it feels. I can say, well, I don't think it is really full of sense to think this way, but it is very real.

  2. Anonymous,

    It IS real. Here's a way to look at it: that some people's brains have a kind of allergic reaction to malnutrition. My brain, for example, reacts to restricted eating by making me irritable and ravenous - I eat, and I feel better.

    Other people, like you and my daughter, have a paradoxical reaction: restricting intake reduces anxiety and gives a false feeling of control and mastery. As a result, you don't eat and get sicker. Almost like having a hit of drugs at the ready if you just avoid food for a few hours.

    What my body and brain do when I'm hungry keeps me healthy. What your body and brain are doing make you sicker. That means you cannot trust your brain YET. Full recovery will give you the opportunity to trust your brain and body again - to live without the "drug." To feel control because you really ARE in control instead of controlled by the need to keep the drug going.

    Go to your doctor. Go to a therapist. Let them advise you and trust them - it will be temporary. You can be fully well and fully alive.

    Everything you say makes perfect sense - it is real - and your kids need you to be entirely well so you can be there for them.

    I'm cheering for you!


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