Author note: if you have ever had, recovered, or are going through it right now , this post is about eating disorders and may trigger you. Please have the hotline number available: 1-800-273-8255
It’s very hard for me to write this blog, considering it’s something that I’ve been dealing with for years. I had to, however, because I needed to bring attention to a problem the mental health field doesn’t really talk about because of misconceptions.
A significant majority have in their minds what someone with an eating disorder “looks like” You know, the 5’1″ girls who are skin and bones. Of course, they have a bit more shaky appearance of Bulimia since weight can be lost quickly or slowly, and weight fluxuations are common.
I’ve been struggling with disordered eating for years of my life. I’ve never been less than a size 10.
There are four times in my life when I have lost significant amounts of weight. 2001, 2007, 2009, and currently.
In 2001 I had just about enough with my weight problem. I started to see myself as worthless, and that’s when everything started happening. It started small, eating my regular amount of food, then trying to throw up. I perfected it in less than 2 months, and could see results. After that was when I started eating very large amounts of food, then purged all that. After a couple of times doing this, I would make the decision to not eat, and after I started losing weight again, I let myself eat a little. But then it was back to the bingeing and purging… and other forms of self-harm. going back to college (I had been taking a break), and having someone take an interest in me made some of that suppressed . Eventually, however, I went back to eating under what I was supposed to and exercised every day to lose weight to please them.
In 2007, I was working at the bookshop, which my favorite job in the world (unfortunately, money gets in the way). It started when I literally didn’t have enough money to buy food. I would buy cans of tuna, mix that with salt, pepper, and oregano (or Italian spices) and just eat it like that, because even bread was a luxury that I couldn’t afford. Then… I saw what the scale said. This time I did restriction only. I would eat even less of that can of tuna… just enough to make sure I was still in control. By mid 2008, though, I was back to the purging again, and gained all the weight back plus more.
In 2009, I actually lost weight by having smaller portion sizes, eating low-calorie things more frequently, and exercising. I had really read up on my food issues. And even though I wasn’t losing weight in between these years didn’t mean I was “recovered” for x amount of months or years. At one point, I became just a binge eater and my self-confidence plummeted. So, when I lost the weight in 2009, it was by healthy living and eating, and I felt so much better. That was when I was in a size 10.
Then in 2011, I realized the scale was going in the other direction thanks to an increase in food and a decrease in exercise (which I half blame my boss for since I had to be at her beck and call even during my lunches). I lived with two guys and we got things delivered CONSTANTLY, instead of actually doing some grocery shopping. So when I moved here with my mother, I started loosing again (correctly), until I had an issue with my Lithium levels. I was put on another med instead, that made me gain almost 70 lbs in 3 months. I was completely devastated.
After I had gotten off that med, I tried to do the healthy eating and exercise like before. I couldn’t afford my own food, so I had to eat what was made for dinner, but I still tried to have a proportional meal. And I was at the heaviest weight I ever was, and unless I wore a back brace I wouldn’t be able to walk 10 minutes, or even 5 sometimes. I started working part time (as I am on disability), but even though I lost some weight and was wearing my brace, the physical pain left me in agony, which is part of the reason I left.
Currently, since last year, I’m on another binge and purge cycle, with occasional fasting. I’ve lost a lot of weight. But I’m tired of feeling the shame of this anymore. I want help, but at the same time don’t. I often say that I’m happy at the weight I’m at, but secretly despise myself.
I even put my foods on a plate without them touching and only eating one thing at a time.
So, I’m definitely not what one would think someone with an eating disorder, and now, at size 14, I don’t think anyone would believe me. If I told a doctor, they would probably diagnose me as EDNOS.
All this disordered eating has led to cavities, tooth decay, and tooth breakage. In fact, one of my front teeth completely broke off as I was eating tonight. My mouth is atrocious, and I should have gone to the dentist when my friend told me to back in 2004. But, such is life, right?
So, I guess I wrote this because there are so many people with disordered eating that would never fit the “skin and bones” eating disorder qualifications (or the opinion people that recognize them by).
This actually hurts those without eating disorders as well. My sister has always (and is) very thin and about a 5’6″ height. The only thing that has changed her appearance slightly is that she drinks beer everyday (you know, that little tummy pouch (that is ridiculously small on her as well). Anyway, all her life, or after she entered middle school, had people constantly pointing out how thin she was or telling people that she is probably anorexic. They obviously don’t actually ‘know’ my sister.
SO… if any one of you have similar experiences, I would love to talk with you about that (or to just chat, if you want).