Debunking “the Microscope Theory”

Yesterday I was chatting with a friend who asked for my advice about what I like to call the “Microscope Theory.” The Microscope Theory is essentially the belief that having an eating disorder infinitely increases the frequency and intensity with which you are judged by others around you. This may sound odd to those who have never suffered from an ED, but I can assure you, this theory seems very plausible when ED is involved. Having an eating disorder often causes a person to judge his or herself more more harshly and much differently than they would normally. Unfortunately, the need to be perfect is a driving force of ED, and thus, the inability to be perfect (which is an impossibility for anyone!) can cause us to be overly self recriminating.

An unfortunate downside of being in recovery is that, after admitting your disease to yourself, you may suddenly feel that everyone else around you is privy to the same information. For me, it felt strangely like that dream we all have where we went to school naked–everyone suddenly saw what I kept most private and there was absolutely nothing I could do to cover myself up.

But, after coming clean to everyone through this blog, I found out something strange. People were so caught up in their own lives and problems, most of them never even noticed mine. I had family members and close friends tell me after I admitted my disease publicly that they never had an inkling that anything was going on the whole time. For five years, however, I thought everyone was watching my every move. This is not a criticism–it is simply a fact. We all have our own problems to deal with and it’s safe to say that worrying about other’s isn’t high on anyone’s priority list. I know this may seem difficult to believe when you’re the one going through it but, trust me, I know from experience that no one is judging you except you!

However, if you do have close friends or family members who know about your disease and may be trying to help by offering their comments or criticisms (however well-intentioned they may be) here’s a little advice:

Sit them down and explain that, as much as you appreciate and value their concern, it is very important for you to be the driving force in making progress in your own recovery. While it is HUGELY important to reach out to other people for support during your recovery, YOU are the person that knows you best. Trust your own judgment–recovery is really more intuitive than you may think.

Cheers to all those in recovery and may you one day get out from under the microscope.


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