My mind resembles something similar to mash potatoes at the minute so I can’t imagine this will be anything other than a good, old fashioned whinge…
Brain, why, oh why, can we not start working together? Why can we not start strengthening each other and helping? Why don’t you want me to enjoy my job? Why are you trying to sabotage everything? You’re taking away all the good things that I’m happy and proud of. Things that when I was in hospital, with no job and no motivation, I was sure would be the key to getting better and now they’re still not good enough for you?!
It seems mightily unfair given I didn’t ask for a whole lot. I wasn’t even greedy enough for “happiness”, just to be content- to be ok.
And I was; I found a job that made me feel worthwhile, that makes me excited, that I enjoy putting effort into, that makes me look forward to going the next day. And even that you’re starting to interfere with.
It is not fair.
I want to debunk some myths now, for anorexia but also for the rest of the, not very tasty, eating disorder enchilada…
People think you don’t want the food. They assume, maybe, you don’t like it or simply don’t want it and admire your ability to resist it. They envy it.
This isn’t going to make me very popular, but the reason I know that is because I used to think it too.
There is a disturbing community of “Pro-ana” on the Internet with girls actively seeking tips on how to “be” anorexic- how to “get it.” Of course, this touches a nerve with those in the grips of the illness; I’d read accounts trying to tell me how “unglamorous” the illness is because you can’t do simple things like choose dessert at a meal with family, go to a restaurant where you won’t be able to have something “safe,” have a cheeky week night drink, grab a snack on the go, etc…
Instead of being put off, I was encouraged: Well if I didn’t want to do any of that, wouldn’t it solve all my problems?! The whole world seems to be on a diet so this seems perfect! I’d be able to be slim, hot and not want to stuff my face. Then I might like how I looked and be a person I could tolerate…
At this point I have to pause to make one of the more embarrassing confessions of my life: my name is B and I am a comfort eater.
I thought I was making food less of an issue. I thought, I really, naively and truly thought this was going to be a way to combat my tendency to use food, one way or another, as a way of making myself feel better.
Well, I didn’t. I consolidated it.
I think about food all the time. Even when I am not hungry. Even when I genuinely don’t want a snack. Even when I have just eaten. Even when I am full.
I am obsessed and consumed by it. My boyfriend, the other night, bought M&Ms from the shop. There they were, sat in the unopened packet right in front of us while we watched tv. Well, while he watched tv and while I flexed every muscle in my body to try not look at them, not think about them and not get severely irritated by the fact he didn’t seem to even know they were there. I have no idea what we were watching, so I clearly didn’t do it very well.
I don’t even like M&Ms (unless they’re the peanut ones, that’s a different story) but still, going round and round in my head was “why hasn’t he opened them, why doesn’t he want to eat them, can I have one, I don’t want one though, but I could have one if I wanted, how many could I have, why has he still not opened them, he doesn’t have an ED, he could be sat there munching away and he isn’t…” I feared I would burst with all these questions and con fusion- it’s lucky I had been working nights and fell asleep on the sofa or I might have! The first thing I thought when he woke me to go to bed was “did he open them? No…” No?!?!?! Can. Not. Compute… And also, damn, means I can’t have one either.
I didn’t even want one!!! I’d had dinner, I’d had my lil’ rice pudding pot and hot chocolate to satisfy my sweet tooth and I didn’t want anything else. But I am still obsessed by food and anything related to it.
It is exhausting. If I meet my mum to go for a wander round the shops my brain is ticking away: when are we going to stop for a coffee… ohh I wonder if I could have a biscuit with my coffee to dip in, ah but then I’ll feel so bad and I’ll want ten… oh god, what if mum gets a muffin or a cake slice… could I have half like we used to? Categorically not. Oh but, well, could I have a tiny bite, just to taste it? What’s the point, how is it worth the guilt I’ll feel…
Round and round like a hamster on speed.
I come from a very verrryyyyyy close family which is, quite literally, a life saver 98% of the time. One of the 2% downsides is that everyone knows everything about you and almost nothing is really just yours until… Anorexia was kind of mine, something that made me independent. My commitment to family events was engineered around when I could fit in my work out and my food rules were something that only I knew. My family is Italian and there are a lot of hearty meals where that comes from- wouldn’t I be clever if I could resist it.
So anorexia was a way of me gaining independence? A way of proving strength? A way to rid food as a coping mechanism? How did that work out for you, B?
Well your whole family, including your 11, 12, 13 year old siblings saw you weak, pale and hollow with a tube up your nose. Your whole family had to tailor their days to ensure one of them was on “meal duty.” Your whole family saw meltdowns over the choice between a salmon or egg sandwich. Your whole family now nervously watches you eat, making sure you’re not hiding anything. Your baby sister who should be coming to you for advice has to tell you it’s ok to eat. Your grandmother had to tell you what you were having for breakfast this morning because you couldn’t choose. You started with anorexia and managed to pick up a whole host of other food nightmares on the way, with a side order of intense depression…
So much for being able to resist stuff. So much for not making food an issue. So much for being a “better person.” So much for being “strong willed” or “disciplined” or whatever other total rubbish people attribute to anorexia. None of it is true.