Atheism and My Eating Disorder Recovery

I am currently working on a memoir about mental health and atheism, and I love sharing bits and pieces when I can. Today I want to share about my eating disorder recovery — something very relevant to my present-day life.

I’ve been very vocal about how becoming an atheist had a profound effect on my recovery from schizoaffective disorder. It made me come to terms with my psychotic symptoms, trust the science behind my medications, and keeps me grounded to this day. These are all very noticeable effects and I tend to focus on my schizoaffective disorder when I talk about mental health.

However, I have also struggled with an eating disorder since the 6th grade and I find that much harder to talk about. There’s a lot of shame associated with it and it’s an issue I am still struggling with now. I recently returned to treatment for my eating disorder and it’s been very difficult.

My atheism doesn’t just affect my recovery from schizoaffective disorder; it has also helped me sort through my feelings and behaviors associated with my eating disorder.

For example, I know no one is to blame. Not god. Not the devil. Not my family. Not even myself. There are often many factors that cause and fuel an eating disorder and religious teachings have no place in that explanation. 

I also know my recovery is up to me and no one else. I need support, but it will be my own hard work — not god — that gets me out of this mess. Forget about prayer and believe in yourself. 

Eating disorders are complicated mental illnesses that need comprehensive treatment backed by science and research. They are hard on the body as well as the mind. When I recently returned to treatment, I had an appointment with a gastroenterologist the same week as my first therapy appointment. Since then I’ve had several tests and procedures done. You have to attack an eating disorder on all fronts and that often means trusting your doctors and science. God isn’t going to heal you.

Being an atheist also motivates me in recovery. I know we get this one short life and there’s nothing after it, so I want better for myself.

I am definitely a work in progress and my recovery from my eating disorder has been hard. But I’m still here — going to all of my appointments, challenging my thoughts, and trying to live a healthier life. I am glad being an atheist has given me a healthy perspective on recovery as well as life. I know I’m going to make it. 


I discuss my eating disorder quite a bit in my upcoming memoir. More details to come!

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