How Eating Disorders Provide A False Sense Of Control

People with eating disorders often have a history of trauma, and many have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a co-occurring diagnosis. An eating disorder is used as a maladaptive coping mechanism that originates from the manic desire for a sense of control.

The problem is that it’s a false sense of control because the eating disorder takes over.

During my residential treatment stay in 2018, I wrote a song about what it’s like to struggle with an eating disorder and PTSD. I titled it The Puppeteer, symbolizing the lack of control one has when the eating disorder takes over to help one cope with PTSD symptoms. 

The Puppeteer

“When I first wake, you decide the steps I take. And every decision I make is yours.
And throughout the day, I hear your voice tell me I’ll always be the one with no control over you.

You beat my heart and your lies they circulate, you lure me in and I reach for the bait.

Tangled up tight in this web that I spun, how can I fight back when you’ve already won?

When I close my eyes, your voice flows through my mind, a haunting lullaby. One that can hypnotize.
And even when I dream, your music comforts me;, a toxic symphony that stays on repeat.

Once I had thought that you’d always be mine. If only I realized I’ve been yours this whole time.

Wasting away, I disappear from all view. How can I stay when I can’t live with or without you?”

I wrote this song when I was in a deep state of conflict within myself.

I wanted to be free from my eating disorder, but I was also grieving the illusion of safety it provided me. Deciding to recover is more difficult than it seems. I felt hopeless and lost like I couldn’t live with or without my eating disorder. To this day, I struggle with this tug-of-war and every day I fight my eating disorder thoughts and urges. It’s hard to feel like I have any control. So I have to keep reminding myself that I have been able to sustain recovery and I am not permanently, to no avail, bound to my eating disorder. I have developed my own skills to utilize in times of intense urges. I am not a hopeless case.

Recovery is possible no matter how much I am struggling. 

Photo by kevin laminto on Unsplash


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