**TW: contains references to ED-related behaviours. Please proceed only if you are comfortable with the subject matter**
Earlier this year, during Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2016, my Cousin remarked that she’d heard some minor celebrity ‘speak out’ about her issues with food. She said that this ‘disclosure’ angered her when she compared it to my struggle with food, and deemed it a publicity stunt.
I don’t know if my Cousin’s opinion was founded or not, but I thought it important that people realise what it is that they’re admitting to when they talk about their ‘Eating Disorder’. It’s not glamorous, or a fashion statement. It’s Hell. Here’s a glimpse of what life is like for me right now:
I dream about the food I wont allow myself to eat.
I won’t eat meals in front of people. I prefer to eat what currently passes for my breakfast, lunch or dinner with no eyes on me. I believe people watching me eat are judging me. That if I were to help myself to an extra potato, I’d be being greedy.
I don’t believe in deciding what I will eat based on desire. Instead, I make eating as unenjoyable as possible. Scrambled eggs on toast isn’t that at all; its the scrambled egg, bland and insipid, and then it’s the sparsely spread toast – discrete ingredients, not eaten together as implied in the name of the dish.
My life is currently a literal vicious cycle of restricting, binging, purging, restricting, binging, purging…
For me, binging is by far the most shameful part of an ED. Contrary to what people may believe, binging isn’t something sufferers enjoy; we don’t binge on our ‘favourite foods’, or savour every mouthful. It’s an act borne of desperation, an urge as strong as that to cut, or burn, or punch a wall. And it’s an addiction. Every morning, I wake up feeling groggy, my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth, blood sugar levels haywire, my heart improvising it’s own rhythm, skipping beats, and think ‘not again…last night was the last…’. But it never is.
Purging is fucking horrific.
Restricting takes willpower like you wouldn’t believe.
Heartburn and bloating is a constant companion. I’m permanently exhausted and have to take most of my nutrition/get most of my energy from thick, viscous supplement drinks.
As I write this, I’m wearing a pair of over, over, over sized joggers that used to belong to my Brother (he’s almost a foot taller than me) because I can hardly bear to feel a pair of jeans buttoned at my waist, or tight against my legs. I spend disproportionate amounts of time under my duvet, hiding my body with its lumps and bumps, and scars.
So that, people, is my Eating Disorder. Absolutely nothing to brag about, or be proud of, but complicated, confusing, distressing and messy.