This is the first time I have decided to write in almost 8 months. I haven’t had the most enthusiastic attitude for writing, but now that I do, I am ready to share another difficult aspect of my life and C-PTSD recovery. His name is Ed. He has been in my head for as long as I can remember and he has tried destroying my body, every hour, of every day.
It was not until about May of 2019, that I realized Ed had been controlling my mind. He had been there for every critique in eating and my own body. He made me starve my beautiful body that deserved the uttermost care. This is when I became aware of my Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia is a mental illness, similar to depression, as that is also a factor of it. Many people seem to stereotype anorexia as a “choice,” but it is quite the opposite. Imagine two voices in your head; your mind/body/soul as one and a lying, tempting thief as the other. I refer to this other voice as Ed, because it makes it easier to differentiate the two, specifically when I am struggling.
Anorexia is an eating disorder, in which, the mind is brainwashed to believe that ones’ body is imperfect in every possible way. Ed made me believe that I was fat, that I was everything but beautiful, that I was not worth anyone’s attention, and most of all, that I had to follow his rules to be happy. Ed told me that if I starved myself, I would be happy. It was a triumph whenever my clothes became to big and I had to buy new ones. There was a celebration in my mind when I skipped a meal or went to bed hungry. What’s wrong with going to bed a little hungry anyways? Well, this all eventually added up to the point my body began turning purple, my anxiety/depression where significantly worse, and all I could think about was what I was going to do for my next meal or if I would even have one.
Along with Anorexia, I also became aware of my binge eating disorder. A binge eating disorder is categorized as a disorder in which one obsessively eats, and cannot stop. For example, typically I would starve myself most of the days and then some days I would eat an entire pint of ice cream or an entire bag of chips. It did not matter to Ed how full I already was, I kept eating. Ed told me I was disgusting after doing this, he bullied me everyday and every night. His logic being, if I binged yesterday, I should starve myself today. Everyday was a battle and I was so lost and confused. Why couldn’t I eat normally? Why was I so anxious about eating in general? Why couldn’t I fix it? The answer to all of these.. Ed.
When I finally became aware of my disorders, I reached out to family members and loved ones for support. It is nearly impossible to get through an eating disorder without emotional and physical support. I had siblings who were struggling in similar ways or ones who had been in the same position. The hardest part of reaching out for help, was Ed trying to pull me back from it. He continuously told me that I would be happy with the way I was eating and there was no reason to be asking for support. I eventually began to learn that I needed their support if I was going to get through this. I needed people to keep me accountable and tell me that they love me and how proud they are of me for small breakthroughs. I needed the kind of support that doesn’t give up but empathizes and sympathizes.
As a child and into teen years, my narcissist mother would buy me clothing items that were never my size. They were always smaller than my actual size so it was an indirect way of telling me I needed to starve myself to fit them. That is exactly what I did. For 18 years, I starved myself without thinking anything of it or thinking it was wrong. For 18 years, I watched my own mother as she starved herself some days and constantly changed her diets. Some days we didn’t even have dinner. We weren’t allowed snacks before dinner and if we did, it had to be monitored and small. During summer, we had to spend a certain amount of time outside before we were allowed to eat. We were forced into unhealthy habits, and in return, we were allowed to have meals we NEEDED.
A few months ago, I finally removed all of the clothing from my closet that has always been to small and would never fit again unless I starved myself. I had to buy a whole new wardrobe of clothing in a size I still wasn’t familiar in buying. In fact, I felt utter shame. Ed was right there in my head, taunting me and telling me that I was too big. Meanwhile, during the time I was extremely sick, people used to tell me I was too skinny or make jokes about how little I ate, or how I would fly off a motorcycle because I was too thin. A lot of these jokes were made in my work environment at the time. There was a specific joke that would go around about being “slender.” It was not only belittling, but also extremely unencouraging to my recovery. Hearing things like “you could fit into the smallest box here,” made me feel self-conscious and depressed.
It is NOT okay to make these kinds of jokes. It is NOT okay to comment on someone’s eating unless it is supportive and gentle because you are aware of what they are going through. It is NOT okay to assume what someone is going through. Anorexia, bulimia, pica, binge eating, and disordered eating are NOT choices. These are mental illnesses. People with these disorders are looking for answers in the dark. They need support. WE need support, unconditional love, compassion, and empathy. It is very possible to die from these disorders and it is something so terrifying for someone to go through alone. Out of all of this information, eating disorders are the same severity as someone with pneumonia or the flu. Self-love and compassion are two of the strongest components in working through these illnesses.
It is okay to breakdown. It is okay to feel sad. It is okay to feel confused or lost. Nobody asks for an illness, but they do ask for unconditional love and support, that they may never have experienced before.