TW TW TW
Eating disorder post. Don’t read if you are easily triggered or struggling right now.
When I was younger, I was obsessed with watching eating disorder videos on YouTube, confessionals by wide-eyed, bony girls my age discussing all of the struggles they’d experienced with calories. The more specific and detailed the video the better; I suppose some would question if I was looking for a How To. For rules and advice so that I could imitate these skeletal girls. While the details were fascinating to me I never copied them, I guess because those videos and stories educated me on what would happen if I did the same. That I’d lose my pretty blonde hair in clumps in the shower, scare away my period, grow fuzz on my body and develop bad breath, bone disease, a habit of feinting, and IBS. That I would never be able to digest food the same way again. How I would most likely end up in the hospital with a feeding tube down my throat.
My obsession with these girls helped to educate me so that I wouldn’t do the same. I think because deep down I knew I was going to have trouble with food one day in some form, and I was determined to limit that. When I was younger I never paid much attention to my body. By puberty however, my siblings were all younger and continuing to eat however much they wanted with no concerns. I was gaining weight. By 15, I was round in the face. Certainly not overweight, but discernibly heavier than my siblings. It upset me a lot and no amount of working out really seemed to help. I was cursed like my parents before me with dreaded “puppy fat” that was not going to melt off until I was older.
I started drinking heavily in secret at 16 because of mental issues and working out at 17. The two cancelled each other out. By 18 I was going to University to party and binge drink more, and eat substantially in the process. I never got beyond 138 at my heaviest, but it was noticeable on my 5’5 figure. My wrists and ankles were soft and I had roles where my bra straps dug into my skin. I remember to this day my dad pinching the skin on my wrist at the dinner table and asking me what it was. He had meant it to be funny. When I moved out at 21 I was still partying quite heavily and drinking routinely. I knew I had weight on my body but eating helped to calm me down. Besides, no matter how hard I worked out and healthily I ate, I could not drop any weight. The lowest I could get to was 136lbs.
Last December, I got quite sick. I’d been struggling all summer with anxiety that had inexplicably worsened out of nowhere. Instead of comfort eating the only thing I could stomach was the occasional instant miso soup. There was roughly a two week period where I didn’t even eat that. As much as I tried, the alcohol made me sicker and more anxious by quickening my heart rate. I was also on an acne medicine that was doing nothing for my skin but everything to strengthen my nausea. It mixed with my anxiety and got to the point where I would awaken at 3am to rush to the toilet to be sick, or rather, think I was going to be sick, my stomach in horrible knots. All food did was make the feeling worse and give me the opportunity to throw something up which I desperately did not want to do (I have a deep seated phobia of vomiting).
When it was all said and done and the end of December rolled around, I was weighing in at about 120lbs. I’d lost close to 20lbs without much effort and the difference was startling.
Of course I loved it. I loved having the same family members who had always mentioned my weight before ask me if I was okay during the holidays. I enjoyed watching their eyes widen in disbelief. Suddenly, I was the smallest sister.
My anxiety didn’t go away with my weight loss. It intensified. By August I estimate I was at my lowest weight – 114lbs. Now I’m at just over 115lbs and I try desperately not to let that number go higher because yes, I have disordered eating. It’s not an eating disorder because I DO eat. I don’t count calories or workout in excess. For the most part I eat three solid meals a day and even snack on occasion.
However, there are “trigger foods” that upset me. Donuts, cakes or sweets, breads and carbs, juices and alcohol – there are foods I simply won’t eat or will turn down.. for no reason at all. Most fast foods are absolutely not okay to eat unless I deem them “healthy”. Like rice bowls or sushi. No fried food and absolutely no McDonalds, although something like pizza can be okay. Burgers are not. Most of anything greasy I won’t eat. Candy bars are not allowed. No frappuccinos although sometimes I will have a latte. If I eat too much one day I’ll eat much less the next. Writing it all down, it has occurred to me that I have so many little “rules” that I live by that I don’t even know why. Fear, I suppose. The fear that if I eat these foods that I will gain weight again, more rapidly than it fell off.
More than that, I constantly shove down the feeling to be smaller, to lose more weight, to under-eat so that I can get to my goal weight of under 110lbs, a goal I didn’t even realize that I had. I struggle between wanting to gain muscle in my butt and stomach and thighs and eating as little as possible so I can experience how 110 feels. And my fear isn’t unjustified because nothing (and I mean no food) has ever felt so good as fitting in clothes I never could before, or throwing out stuff that no longer fits. I’m not a medium anymore, I’m an XS or small in everything. It feels so good to be little because I’ve felt huge my whole life.
I’m concerned these feelings will only continue to intensify and if anymore horrible stuff is thrown my way (such as my brother’s cancer diagnosis and my parents warring with each other) that I will default to controlling the only thing that I can, which is my body.
I’m not sure what to do about it. It’s not an eating disorder but nobody else looks at food the way that I do. They eat normally and without a care, and they enjoy it.
I’m trying to find a balance. x