When an Eating Disorder Changes Your Personality

June 19, 2018 Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

An eating disorder personality can take you over sometimes in ED recovery.  Learn how to regain control from the eating disorder personality at HealthyPlace.

Your eating disorder has its own personality. In fact, if you have spent any length of time under the possessive, domineering influence of an eating disorder, you know the illness can turn you into a different person altogether. You have probably felt the sensation of watching your actions as though from a distance, ashamed at the erratic behavior, yet helpless to regain control. You have likely experienced the reckless thoughts and wild emotions that breed impulsive choices and abrupt reactions. You can detect when the eating disorder hijacks your brain and all of a sudden, you are operating from a place of anxiety and fear. You are no longer, well, you. Your eating disorder personality has taken over.

What It's Like When My Eating Disorder Personality Takes Over

I am all too familiar with my eating disorder personality taking over. In fact, I most recently experienced it less than a week ago. The Saturday afternoon I'm about to describe would have been enjoyable and memorable had I fought to remain present in reality. Instead, I allowed the eating disorder to mold me into a cheap imitation of the person I actually am--and the artifice showed.

On this particular Saturday, I was shopping for bridesmaid dresses with my best friend. I am the matron-of-honor at her wedding and we had planned this outing a couple months in advance. I was looking forward to an afternoon spent with her and some of my other favorite people. But I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to invite my eating disorder and mental chaos ensued. I was fraught with nervous ticks on the outside and irrational, scathing abuse on the inside. With each dress I tried on, my brain terrorized my body. I felt unhinged, and I was not myself—the eating disorder had taken charge.  

How to Prevent an Eating Disorder Personality from Taking Over

Whenever the eating disorder personality takes over, I notice a visible shift in both my attitude and personality. I become stubborn, frenetic, combative and selfish. I morph into a fraud. I pretend and perform until that surface image cracks wide open and the vulnerabilities my eating disorder wants to renounce and repress are finally exposed. This is the scariest tension to find myself in but it's also where authenticity can start taking root. I need to acknowledge the mental chatter and emotional angst without giving them free rein to distort my entire outlook. I need to resolve that my eating disorder personality will not maintain control.  

If you resonate with this illustration—if you know what it's like to feel as though you're a different person under the eating disorder's oppressive personality—then I urge you to make that same resolve. Despite how powerless or defenseless you might consider yourself, there is still the freedom of choice. You can allow the insecurities and anxieties to derail your behavior and impact your demeanor. But you can also decide to be genuine, unselfish, engaged and present regardless of the lies your eating disorder spews.

Learn to distinguish your most real, true self from the eating disorder personality's manufactured version. Establish boundaries to keep them separate and be candid with yourself when the metamorphosis begins. Find trusted people to hold you accountable if they notice you're acting out of character. I am grateful for my husband, mentor and friends who communicate the unvarnished truth I need to hear. In my experience, surrounding yourself with enough honesty and authenticity will fade-out the eating disorder's volume, so the person you are inside can emerge.  

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2018, June 19). When an Eating Disorder Changes Your Personality, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

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