Written by MX
People can be motivated toward something, for positive reasons, or away from something negative. In recovery, it is sometimes appropriate, although rarely very pleasant, to consider that which we want to avoid. While scaring ourselves is not the best idea in the world, it takes self-awareness and emotional maturity to be aware of the risks involved in not minding ourselves as we deserve and to act, daily, to prevent the realisation of those risks.
I have chosen to write this article in order to highlight one of the many reasons to work hard on clarifying values, to place health at the top – not “high on”, but at the very top – of our lists of values. This article is about dental health.
I really and truly believed that dental problems were one potential ED outcome from which I would certainly be exempted. I was ready for osteoporosis. I feared arthritis. In the absence of periods, worries about future fertility niggled at the recesses of my mind. But I never once engaged in the main behaviour with which I associated risks regarding teeth; namely, vomiting. So I felt that warnings about these did not apply to me.
However, I am currently paying the penalty for years of poor nutrition. Having watching my gums recede for years, laughing at the likelihood that I’d need to get dentures in the far distant future, I now have to get a graft on my lower gum. I had a consultation with a periodontist last week and he said that my gum has gone too thin to hold onto my lower front teeth for much longer. I will lose my four front incisors if a graft is not done soon. I am nervous about the procedure, but I am pragmatic. It is a routine procedure, under local anaesthetic, and it will be fine. I am not looking forward to the discomfort afterwards and I have stocked up on nutritional drinks to sip the evening of and day after, while eating solid food is difficult. That will be fine as well. The cost is not delightful, but I am grateful that I can afford this treatment.
What this is, though, is a harsh lesson in reality. No one is exempted from any of the destruction to which the behaviours of Eating Distress can lead. Every choice that is not completely healthy – more practically, perhaps, every decision you would not be happy to go into a session and tell your therapist about – is self-destruction, plain and simple.
Brutal honesty is the name of the game for me these days. I am thankful for this reality check. Health has been promoted from “high” to the very top of my list of values now…
…and nothing will replace it there.