Dear Kallos: I Have Been Struggling With An Eating Disorder And With Self-harm

I have been struggling with an eating disorder and with self-harm for a few years now. Though I have made progress, I still find it difficult to resist the urge to restrict my diet and harm myself. I don’t want to disobey God by harming my body, but sometimes the thoughts get very loud. Why do I still have these thoughts and how can I make them go away? – Struggling

dear Struggling,

We are so proud of you for pressing on toward full recovery! It is a difficult road, yet you are so brave to choose to conquer these giants in your life.

The fact that you don’t want to act on those thoughts already shows that you are making progress. The temptation to harm yourself or restrict your diet can be overwhelming, but we applaud you for desiring to keep yourself pure before God! We love what Dr Tam Wai Jia says about relapses in her own struggle with eating disorders: “It is a key part of recovery. It is God’s gracious way of revealing areas in our lives that require a deeper dependence on Him. Relapse is what I’ve learnt to call ‘Falling Forward’. Every time you pick yourself up, you’re in a different place” [Read her interview in the previous issue of Kallos].

Don’t let those voices tell you that you’ve failed just because you’re tempted. As humans, temptation is a reality because our sinful nature still persists! The mark of recovery is not about never having those thoughts again, but having the ability to resist them when the thoughts come. And the good news is that you don’t have to walk this journey alone – God has given you the Holy Spirit to guide and empower you, as well as the community around you to support you through this recovery process!

Instead of allowing the thoughts to overwhelm you, we encourage you to heed the advice in Philippians 4:8-9 – “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Fill your mind with the word of God, and soon enough, you may find that there is no longer space for unwanted thoughts. In addition, it will help to gather some friends you trust to keep you in check. When harmful thoughts come to mind, quickly send out an SOS for them to cover you in prayer! Allow them to come alongside you and share your burden.

One day, we believe that you’re going to look back on these days and stand up with confidence to shout about how great and faithful God has been in your life to see you through these tough times. Stay strong and rooted in Christ! 

Alina Teo
I am a mother of two littles. Some things that I love — vintage florals, mountains, cooking, sewing and writing. I have a heart for the broken and I take comfort in knowing that Christ can be our hope.