Written by: Morgan Blair, Founder and Creative Director of Unpolished Journey
I have been asked on more than one occasion what helps to motivate me in my eating disorder recovery journey. Each time I respond without a breath: “My spirituality.” The response is a reflex at this point, as well known and comfortable as the stuffed dog that lays beneath my head each night. Spirituality is both my breath and my peace. It is the part housed within my soul. The part that no matter how dark or twisted my mind becomes, it cannot be touched. My spirituality gives me the connections I desperately need in order to defeat the darkness in my life.
If this tool is so powerful against the eating disorder, what exactly does it consists of? What does it mean to be spiritual? What does it mean to utilize spirituality?
Spirituality, for me, is leaning on a Higher Power to restore me to sanity. My Higher Power being God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. My spirituality is interchangeable with my faith and my faith is interchangeable with hope. Hope being the killer of darkness. Spirituality is the process of learning to surrender over my struggles, pains, and emotions to my Higher Power in order to pull me through. It is me admitting my weakness in order to understand just how strong my Higher Power is.
My eating disorder is a massive web of thoughts, behaviors, insecurities, and painful memories. It is infectious and when I surrender to the eating disorder, it overtakes my entire life. I can’t eat, sleep, or think without the eating disorder. I can’t even breathe without it. I become a host dictated by its parasitic nature, sucking all life and purpose from my veins. In return, the eating disorder silences my ability to hear any aspect of my spirituality. It cuts me off from the room that houses my soul, my spirit tank, and any essence that gives me purpose in my life.
I was once asked how I would envision the rooms of my internal house to be arranged. The rooms consisting of my physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual parts. I told the therapist that the spiritual room would be at the center, and in order to get into any other room in the house, you would have to walk through it. “How does your eating disorder impact your house?” my therapist responded with. “It turns off all the lights in the spiritual room and boards up all the doors, so that I am stuck in one room without any resources or light,” I told her.
After I said this out loud, I was reminded of what deep down I always knew to be true. My spiritual room must be dusted, rearranged, aired out, and lit in order for me to find joy and peace in other areas of my life or in order for me to move freely to the other rooms/parts of myself. The eating disorder cuts me off and leaves me caged and frozen in captivity. Therefore, I forget who I ever was without it.
Now, I am not going to tell you that you HAVE to use spirituality in order to recover from mental illness, but I will tell you that I don’t think anyone will ever understand true freedom until they have found God. Until you have found that piece that is larger than yourself, larger than your struggles, larger than your past illnesses or hurts. For me, my spirituality is the ONLY tool strong enough to defeat the eating disorder completely. I could reread the DBT handbook a thousand times over or read a million articles on recovery or discuss my meal plan ten fold, but without prayer, scripture, a relationship with God, or hope that’s found in my spiritual community, then none of those skills can truly take root. Because, the spirituality piece can not only manage my symptoms, but it can heal them, alleviating them in their entirety. And that, my friends, is called hope. And without hope full recovery cannot exist.
Spirituality is the only thing large enough to fill the void that living without the eating disorder leaves me with.