Right Brain, Left Brain

“The left side of the brain is responsible for controlling the right side of the body and is commonly known as the logical side of the brain. The right hemisphere coordinates the left side of the body and is responsible for creativity and emotions.”

The following are thoughts I’ve actually had that contradict each other, because humans do not always make sense. As Roxanne Gay once said, “Like most people, I’m full of contradictions.” This blog post is an act of realizing them, separating my disordered thoughts from my logical ones. A therapist once told me that I’m too smart for my own good as I argued against logic in favor of my eating disorder. Note that none of these thoughts are absolute truths. Please do not take them as such.

Right Brain: It’s good to always feel hungry. I like this sensation because it makes me feel thin.

Left Brain: This isn’t true. No one likes this feeling. Our bodies metabolically don’t like this feeling.

Right Brain: I’m not skinny enough to actually have an eating disorder. So I need to try harder. I need to actually look like a skeleton, or else my mental illness isn’t real.

Left Brain: The way I think I look isn’t how I look to other people. I don’t have to look sick to be sick.

Right Brain: Every fast runner looks so much skinnier than me. I won’t be fast unless I don’t eat.

Left Brain: I need energy to run fast. Food is energy, thus I need food.

Right Brain: Dried Fruit is bad, but fresh fruit is okay.

Left Brain: What kind of weird, Goopy food rule is that? Dried fruit will not harm me. I can eat a raisin. I can.

Right Brain: Bread will make me fat. Especially white bread. Who actually eats that? If bread is so bad, sandwich shops are unnecessary and not-that-healthy and WHY does everyone love them? Why is there a Subway on literally every street corner if bread is so unhealthy?

Left Brain: Bread is amazing. There are so many good things about bread. If bread stopped existing there would be no Subway and millions of people would be out of work and that would be a goddamn shame.

Right Brain: Eating the same thing every day makes the world feel manageable and me feel less anxious. Anxiety and stress are actually physically harmful, thus, I should avoid stress.

Left Brain: The anxiety and stress caused by worrying about food is much worse than the small degree of relief I find from “perfectly”

managing everything I eat.

Right Brain: Grocery stores are terrifying. So many calories, all in one place, is literally my worst nightmare.

Left Brain: In order to live, I need food, and the only real way to get food is to go to the grocery store. The people are nice there, and it’s not far away, and there’s a Starbucks inside just for me.

Right Brain: If I run enough, or do enough HIIT training, or yoga, or biking, or all of it, I’ll be okay. On days I can’t exercise, I don’t deserve food. Everyone who doesn’t exercise is a lazy bum. I’m better than them. And look, I’m eating less than them too. My willpower is so strong.

Left Brain: I know that I need food even on days I don’t exercise. Isn’t it a bit rude to think of everyone else as a lazy bum? I don’t know what they’re going through. Finally, eating less than I need isn’t a sign of strength, it’s a sign of sickness.

About a year ago, I wrote a poem to my brain. It isn’t in my book, but lots of other poems are, and you can find them here.

Hey, Brain

Don’t you want me to gleam like

those bitches in Shape magazine?

Asses tits abs and ribs headlines that scream:

Get Your BEST Butt EVER!

Bikini Body in 2 Weeks Flat!

Look Great Naked

Slim & Happy

Firm & Fit

Unleash Your Inner SEX Goddess

Shredded Abs in 5!

My therapist said I should unsubscribe

but I can’t

let go of the thigh-gaps make-up hacks clean recipes

I can’t

let go of glossy pages

promising beauty at any age, the male gaze

the lists of tricks and tips and ways

to make myself pretty

I can’t

understand how

I can’t

understand my own brain.

How you tell me to starve, forbid me from eating

chocolate or bread or condiments cheese

meat refried beans potatoes butter milk peas

anything sweet, how can my brain

know better than me?

Convince my eyes my reflection is tepid,

unflattering

Hey, Brain

I would like you to take

a back seat for a while, I

am the driver and Pavlov was right —

I can condition you not to believe in yourself

you did it to me

and I’ll hide

the bare asses in magazines

until I can see the photoshop glaring back at me

Hey, Brain

I need you to wait

til I figure this out

then we can be friends again but for now

it’s best that we take a long break

maybe move far away until I feel safe

Hey, Brain.

P.S. If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, contact the NEDA helpline at (800) 931–2237. Find an Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA) meeting near you HERE, or find a treatment center near you HERE. To connect with a community of runners, follow Strong Runner Chicks HERE.

xoxo

Sarah Rose