Living with an Eating Disorder- Ever Wondered what It Feels like?
Living with an eating disorder sucks!
No one wants to deal with the constant fear, guilt, shame, and doubts. It’s an all-encompassing disorder, which slowly and steadily feeds off your energy, your relationship, and your life purpose.
There are so many theories on how people develop an eating disorder, and yet they are not so satisfying to me. I can’t really blame it on my parents any longer, as I don’t feel that I can blame anything on them after I past the age of 12. I came to embrace the genetic component of the disease, and yet it doesn’t give me an answer to why I had to suffer more than my friends, and my sister.
I do remember that almost all the girls in my class in high school “suddenly” dropped a considerable amount of weight, and stop buying salami sandwiches from the vending machine. Did they have an eating disorder as well?
It was possibly more common than I thought, and we hide it very well between one strong espresso and a cigarette balancing on our lips. No one was talking about it, and if someone got caught in the act of vomiting or throwing away food…shame on them! They had a problem, and it was better to avoid them as if they were pests.
At least, that’s what happened to me. Some of my oldest friends stopped answering my calls when I was 17 because I was a bad influence, and I was clearly anorexic.
How sad! I even went to see a psychologist, and he had no idea what to tell me, as he was really fascinated by the facts that I didn’t want to eat “What about tomato pasta?” he dared to ask — nope dear doctor, not even tomato pasta.
I went to see a different counselor, and I started blaming my dad; not because he had any fault in it, but simply because I wanted to feed the therapist with some “useful” information; she wrote down quite a lot during our session, and she never smiled or showed an understanding look. I obviously didn’t go back.
Coming to think of it, I have seen more professionals that I can remember; once my mum drove us for two hours to a hospital specialised in eating disorders treatment, and I was met by a tiny little girl, an intern. She was skinnier than I was, and the first thing that she asked me to do was to step on the scale. “You are fine,” she told me quite abruptly: “You weigh more than I do.”
And so, I’m asking all these overly charging doctors, “if I’m so fine, how come that I cried myself to sleep every night? That I fought with my parents at every meal? That I dropped 15 kilos in 3 months? That I vomited, purged, used laxatives and diuretics? How come that I went hours without touching water and foods, and then I gave in to starvation, and filled myself up to the brim, to the point of sickness?”
No doctor or therapist really thought much of my situation, and they let me go as if that was just a phase that I was going to outgrow independently. “She is stubborn; she is crying for attention; she is just making it up.” I heard them all.
Little did they care about my thinning hair, the lack of energy, the cold body, and the immense sadness that was looming around, like a hungry shark in a crowded beach.
I didn’t choose it. And I coped it, mainly because I was repeatedly reminded that it was all in my head. I starved and stuffed my face every time I got an insufficient mark, whenever I had a fight with a friend, or if I got dumped by a boyfriend, or if my dad gave me the silent treatment. It was hard, and it caused me to brew so much hate. Sometimes it exploded on the outside, but most of the time, I kept it repressed, as I had no better way to express it than to write to a girl living in an imaginary, perfect world.
I got weighed quite regularly by concerned family members that conveyed their distress by pulling my arm and yelling at me; I used to wear the heaviest shoes, and I filled my pockets with pebbles. I was constantly reminded about how wrong I was, how problematic I became, and “why was I so different from all the other normal kids?”.
I wasn’t so different. I just wanted to belong.
And the reality was that it hadn’t always been the same; I do remember a time where my weight wasn’t a concern at all; it was what it was. I stepped on a scale only when asked to do so, and whenever my peers made derogatory comments on the size of my legs, I didn’t overthink it.
Slowly, slowly, society demands reminded me that I wasn’t allowed to be outspoken, that I had to behave as a good girl, and that I was expected to fit in the correct jeans size. And so, I did. Once again, I wanted to belong.
That’s when I stopped having pizza, and all those delicious desserts were taken away from the table; I started daydreaming about the next time that I could enjoy an ice-cream, whereas only two months before it wasn’t such a big of a deal. I became food-obsessed, maybe because I was famished.
And that’s when my story merges with the stories of millions of other girls out there. The more I lost, the more I got complimented on my efforts. Maybe I wasn’t bringing home the best marks, but I was the skinniest in the classroom, and people started noticing me. I went from being Miss no one to Miss someone.
And it felt good because, all of a sudden, I belonged.
I belonged to the unhappy group, to the troublemakers, to those kids that are sad and act out because they don’t know how else to express the pain they got inside.
I didn’t get raped, and I didn’t come from poverty, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t scared, angry, and lonely.
Where did it start? I’m here to share it all.