*possible eating disorder triggers*
i am having a problem with food and eating of late, in that i hate them both. this is a significant challenge when you consider that eating is one of the basic requirements for living. it’s also problematic for my medications. one of my anti-depressants requires a minimum of calories when you consume it, three-hundred and fifty of them to be precise. this may not seem like a lot but when my eating disorder is ascendant, the number seems insurmountable.
i don’t want to eat. i don’t want to need to eat. i want food to just go away, along with my need for it.
part of the spike in my eating disorder thinking is from depression; mine is acting up. i’m aware that i’m sinking. i’m trying to be nice to myself, and kind to myself, but that is not my default setting. my tendency is to treat myself badly when i’m “failing” and i’m aware that not wanting to eat is a failure. of course, i’m also busy beating myself up over the fact that the ribs along my back are not supremely visible. the part of me that wants to get well reminds me that visible bone structure is not a sign of beauty. the part of me that is eating disordered disagrees. it looks at pictures of models and celebrities and notes that the thickest parts of their legs are the knees; my thighs are bigger than that and it leads to distress.
a few months back, netflix ran a movie called to the bone, about eating disorders. i had some issues with the movie, especially with how bulimia was portrayed: too tidy and easy, not desperate and violent enough, but there was one characteristic that resonated. the main character obsessively measured the width of her upper arm throughout the movie. it was her touchstone. she’d check, check, and recheck to make sure her arms weren’t growing. to check that the diameter was still the same. i have a similar behaviour i engage in. it’s how i know i’m still “safe”. it’s how i know i’m okay. for me, it’s my thighs, not my arms. i wrap my fingers around to double-check the width. to make sure nothing’s changed since yesterday. i want to make sure every day that the thumbs and middle fingers still overlap. if they don’t, my eating disorder tells me i’m failing.
the diameter is currently greater than i’d like. combine that with the lack of a completely visible rib cage, and i’m in distress. distress over the size of my body and the amount of flesh i’m carrying means i start to hate food. it’s all wrong, it’s all going to make me fat, and fat, according to my eating disorder, is the worst thing in the world. flesh is the enemy. distress over the size of my body also means that the amount of hateful self-talk increases.
i understand why my eating disorder is gaining strength. it’s easier to deal with that than the mental distress, pressure, self-hatred, and apathy that comes when my depression is on the rise. my eating disorder gives me something to focus on that isn’t the insane pressure in my brain. it gives me something to do and think about when my depression makes anything that isn’t sitting on the couch seem impossible.
decisions and actions are extremely challenging when my depression is acting up. simple things, like taking a shower, become challenging. harder things, like checking in on my parents’ house and watering the plants while they’re away on vacation become almost impossible. the fact that these things are difficult encourages my brain to heap on the abuse, taunting me for my struggles; my efforts to escape those miserable thoughts lead me to obsess over my body and the lack of perfection therein.
i should’ve noted the signs a few days ago. there were indications that i was in distress. for instance, i’ve started to obsess over exercise, pretending that it has nothing to do with my eating disorder.
i don’t need my eating disorder anymore. i can be healthy. in fact, i’m going to be so healthy, i will work out every day. twice a day. once on weights and once with pilates. it’s good for me. a strong core is important. and i should increase the weights i’m using. strong is good (extreme definition is better). lots of people work out all the time and they don’t have an eating disorder. i could do that too. i could be a competitor. i could get really fit, really cut, and compete. then everyone would be able to see that i’m perfect. everyone would see that i’m okay.
except i’m not, and i know it, and that fact was brought home to me clearly this morning when my brain decided once again that food should be an optional extra. when my brain told me that i don’t need to eat because, reasons. my eating disorder is not a huge fan of logic and has no use for the argument that one must eat to live.
i have not thrown up in seven months, barring one blip which my psychiatrist tells me i don’t have to count, because i didn’t redescend to full on and continuous bingeing and purging. i am fearsomely controlled however, and my eating could be charitably described as rigid. it’s portion and type controlled in the extreme and that’s fatiguing. the ongoing restrictions have no doubt contributed to the amping up of my depression, either because i haven’t been taking in enough calories for the medication to work, or because prolonged starvation has a negative effect on neurochemistry.
i know these things and i know what i need to do. execution, unfortunately, is massively challenging and i don’t help myself by clinging to ideas of what’s acceptable regarding my appearance. i’m still holding onto the belief that i need to be thin even in recovery. i still cling to the idea that very small clothing sizes are the only ones that are valid. because clothes in a bigger size are bad, even if i can’t define the why.
i wish i could end this post by saying i had an epiphany and made myself a full breakfast. i wish i could say i saw the light and packed up the clothes that keep me restricting. i wish i could believe that the progress i’ve made is important and accept that recovery takes time but right now, i can’t. i compare everything i am to everyone else, even my recovery, even though the daily reminder that pops up on my phone tells me to “eschew comparison”.
what i can say is that i will eat breakfast. i will recognize that i’m struggling today and i will endeavor to treat myself kindly because of it. i will make the effort to keep moving forward, even though of late it feels like i’m trying to move forward in sludge. because the one truth that i’m managing to hang onto is that this too, will probably pass.
(july 14, 2018)