Autism, Eating Disorders, and Existentialism

autism recovery
Autism, Eating Disorders, and Existentialism

From a very young age, I sought answers to questions about the meaning of life.

Why am I here?
What’s my purpose?
What’s the point of living if we’re all going to die anyways?

I tended to overthink many decisions in an endless pursuit to find the “best” option, only to ruminate on all the alternative possibilities and outcomes had I chosen differently.

Most of my thoughts nowadays follow a similar pattern as I constantly ask myself why I’m doing what I’m doing and what legacy I want to leave behind.

The philosophical term for such thinking is existentialism. Simply put, existentialism is a journey into the depths of human experience, challenging conventional wisdom and inviting introspection. It’s all about individual freedom, choice, and the idea that life doesn't come with a predetermined purpose – you've gotta make your own meaning.

Because we, as humans, are faced with infinite possibilities on an everyday basis, the idea of having responsibility over your own path can feel daunting. For autistics, the overwhelm that comes from needing to make decisions is often termed “analysis paralysis.” The famous existentialist Kierkegaard described the anxiety we face in response to our ability to choose “the dizziness of freedom.”

As I was plagued by my fears of making the “wrong” choices and whether or not I was living my purpose, anorexia came as my savior. My eating disorder provided me with a sense of meaning and conveniently shielded me from the freedom that comes with the ability to choose.

By building a life that was absent of choice – and therefore absent of the possibility of unpredictable outcomes – I deluded myself into believing that I would not have to deal with the angst that parallels human existence.

Of course, anorexia, and any other form of distraction, is merely that: a distraction. Hiding from life’s deepest questions doesn’t make them disappear. If anything, it makes them more alluring. The misery of an eating disorder constantly tempts the conscience to ask what life could be like free from the disorder.

The only way to create that “could be” scenario is to embrace the power of choice. To accept that there will be infinite possibilities, and to acknowledge that none is “right” or “wrong.” Living life fully involves making peace with the unknown, for it’s only then that you can discover a way of being that is beyond your wildest dreams.

If you want to discover what your life COULD BE without an eating disorder, schedule a consultation call for 1-1 coaching here!

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