I was asked what my opinion was on someone with an eating disorder moving away from home/living on their own, and also if i would have been able to live on my own when i had an eating disorder.
I thought i would answer these questions in a post – and for everyone – as i think it might be important to think about if you have an eating disorder. To answer the second question first… i remember when i was 12-14 at the start of my eating disorder and the two things i longed for was the day i could move away from home – have my own place & when i could start getting tattoos! I remember thinking that when i was 16 i would move out and get my own place….. of course, as a 13 year old i had no idea what that would actually entail or the fact that having your own place costs alot of money and requires alot of responsibility. Also the fact that when you live on your own it is even more important that you can take care of yourself, that you can take care of a household and that you can be on your own….. 3 things i couldn’t do back then. I couldn’t eat on my own, i was scared of food and yes…. i wanted my own place, i have always wanted my own place. But one of the main reasons i wanted my own place from the years 13-16 was so that i could not eat/follow my eating disorder behaviours and no one would see me. I just wanted my own place so i could be sick and suffer on my own and no one would bother me or get in my way. Then when i began to recover, i still wanted my own place – oi have always wanted my own apartment and to live on my own but for other reasons i.e so that i can have my own personal space. So that i can listen to music and podcasts loud and not bother others, so that i can cook in peace and not bother others and so many other reasons why i want my own place. But in the past i just wanted my own place so i could use my behaviours and not eat and not be interrupted by others.
So when i was sick with an eating disorder i would not have been able to have my own place and recover or be healthy… not even in recovery. It would have been too much responsibility and too much freedom which i could not have handled back then. So even if i could have had my own place i don’t think my family or the treatment centre i went to would have allowed me to live on my own.
Would i recommend living on your own if you have an eating disorder?
The answer is no. However it is not 100% no, because living on your own gives you alot of responsibility and freedom and it can infact make you grow up more… make you realise that you do need to take care of yourself, but also to “show everyone” that you can do it… show everyone who doubted you. However, if i think about my own personal experience in the past with my eating disorder…. i know that it would have been too much freetime, too much alone time and no one would have kept track on me/made sure i ate which wouldn’t have been good for me or my recovery.
I know many want to move away from home when they are sick – just so that they can be sick without anyone bothering or interrupting them. But you have to be honest with yourself….. can you live on your own and take care of yourself? Can you eat your meals on your own? Can you cook food for yourself and eat all your meals on your own without feeling guilty or compensating? Can you eat normal portions and “Normal food” (i.e not just eat salad or fruit).
Can you rest and spend a whole day just on your own? Would you isolate yourself completely if you lived on your own? Would you be able to take care of yourself and the household? Would you be able to call someone if you were struggling or need to talk? Would you rest when you needed it?
If you can’t answer yes to all of those then i think you should wait and live with family – or whoever you live with so that you can have support (Hopefully!). In recovery you often need someone there to make sure you eat, someone who can sit with you after meals. Someone who can make sure you don’t compensate after meals, or that you rest and don’t overexercise. Someone you can talk to and someone who keeps you on track.
Of course, not everyone lives with someone/family who support them… infact sometimes living at home can be the cause of the problem or can make your eating disorder worse and moving away from home could actually be the thing that helps you recover. Example if family – or whoever you are living with – are very critical or mean to you, or if they are abusive or if they don’t support you. Then moving away from home, having your own space can be the thing that helps you find your strength to recover. But for most people…. they need to live with others and with family who help keep them on track and help them to stay strong enough to recover.
Another option could be if you feel strong enough to move away from home – but not strong enough to live on your own is to look for a place to live with friends or to rent a room somewhere. THis can be a first step… because you get more responsibility and you need to cook your own meals, shop for food and take care of a household. But you can also eat meals with others, you aren’t always alone, and the person you are living with would notice if you don’t eat/don’t buy food or if you are constantly exercising, binging or purging etc So that can be a good first step to having your own place but still struggling/half way recovering.
This is just my opinion and thoughts from my own experience….. but i would love to know your experience – if you have/Have had an eating disorder. Do you think you could live alone while struggling with an eating disorder… maybe you did? Comment below, i would love to hear different opinions and/or stories.