The Trap of Trying to “Control” My Symptoms

The allure of perfectionism in eating disorder recovery.

Artwork by Jenna Simon
Photo by Nick Shandra on Unsplash

Or rather, I wanted them to see the image of myself that I was trying hard to portray to them all. An image that was perfect, yet creative. An image that met the strict expectations of my mother, yet asserted my personality. I wanted them to see and love the “real me” while at the same time live up to who I was expected to be.

Jenna Simon depicts the “mask” that most people with eating disorders wear.

In a perverse way, my eating disorder both reflected the control I felt imposed on me by my mother’s abuse, but also served as a form of rebellion against it.

Photo by Eugenia Maximova on Unsplash

The problem with my “self help” was not that the information I uncovered was useless, or that I didn’t find some ways that helped me reduce the severity of my distress around my body — but that I was trying to control my symptoms, which were in and of themselves an expression of an already over-controlled mindset. I was trying to use the tools of perfectionism, to overcome perfectionism.



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“The nature of our immortal lives is in the consequences of our words and deeds” — Cloud Atlas