This post is a flashback of my past. It was written as a healing exercise for me to lay to rest my Body Dysmorphia and Anorexia Nervosa. I want to assure you that I no longer struggle as I did during this time in my life. I hope this post inspires you in some way. You are beautiful, strong, and worthy. Love yourself my friends.
PS - this is part two of a series. Part One is Thin = Love (go check it out)
What makes a person decide to obsess about food?
When does one decide to just STOP eating?
It can be inconceivable to some.
Because eating is considered a pleasurable experience. It brings joy to have the flavors, smells, and comfort of food. In fact, most of the population would love to eat more (and some eat too much) because of the level of bliss it provides.
For others, it’s not quite that simple.
Food can cause major anxiety.
Food can be something that is feared on every level.
Food can be a monster. Taunting and threatening you.
Would you eat a monster?
Probably not. But you don’t think of your food this way.
I have Anorexia Nervosa, and I fear food.
I have a running tabulation of calories and fat grams coursing through my mind at every moment.
I weigh myself not just daily, but before and after every meal.
I measure every ounce of food, plan out my meals days in advance, and I’m consumed with worry that someone might offer me a cookie or, God forbid, take me out to dinner.
Body Dysmorphia is a convenient byproduct of my Anorexia. Not only have I lost ridiculous amounts of weight, I can’t see it, no matter how hard I look. So, I restrict my intake or increase my exercise even more!
I’m in my own world full of fear and self-loathing, and you know what?
I have no idea how I got here.
Here’s something you need to understand:
I didn’t just wake up one day and say, “I’m not going to eat ever again.” In fact, I’m not too sure what triggered me on the path to self-destruction. Yes, Anorexia is DESTRUCTION to my mind, my body, and my self-worth.
You also need to know that offering me food and asking me, “How can you NOT eat?” and “Why can’t you just go back to eating how you did before?” while well intended, is very stressful for me.
I already feel crazy. I realize that my anxiety about food is not normal. I’m also likely not thinking clearly. When my mind is consumed by the fear of too many calories in my bowl of cereal or the possibility of not having time to burn off that bite of a cookie, it’s exhausting. I can’t think about “going back to eating how I did before,” because it causes me to panic.
What is also interesting, is the dialogue going on in my head.
I totally feel like my mind has split personalities.
One telling me that I need to start eating so people don’t continue to worry about me. The other saying, “Don’t eat that, it will make you fat.”
The other physical symptoms that plague me are achy joints and muscles, belly pain, constipation, and cramps. I know how insane it sounds to YOU, but my thoughts consider it normal and acceptable if I can just lose the weight!
That plate of food might look harmless to you, but the half piece of toast with peanut butter and 1/4 cup of blueberries is an evil monster just taunting me, daring me, to finish every last morsel — with an evil chuckle and a chilling hint of disaster to follow.
So, thank you for your concern. No thank you for your criticism. Anorexia Nervosa is not just something I did for attention, although it’s possible this could’ve been the trigger.
Anorexia Nervosa is a mental illness that is extremely dangerous, and I am very lucky to have survived it.
I hope you can open your mind and be compassionate of what it might be like to live in constant inner conflict with yourself.
Maybe you feel this way too?
Maybe you see it in a friend or loved one?
You want to help, but aren’t sure how.
What can work, and what worked for me, was to be spoken to like a human with a strong fear, not a freak who is seeking attention.
I was approached out of curiosity and compassion.
I was asked about how I felt, not what I was trying to get out of this crazy weight loss plan.
I was encouraged to see my body for it’s strength, and not how it compared to everyone else. And eventually, I was taught how to enjoy food for it’s nourishment, and no longer see a monster on my plate.
If you want to read more about how I might have gotten to this place, take a peek at Part One: Thin=Love.