ED Trigger Warning: Contains numbers
(From original blogspot site dated 31st August 2016)
A big portion (pardon the pun) of my day is spent thinking about, cursing, regretting, planning or eating food. I have had a poor relationship with food my whole life and an eating disorder since I was 14 years old.
I was an overweight child. Not grossly overweight by today’s standards but a heavy set, flubby tummied, wobbly thighed kind of overweight. I had started piling on the kilos when I was around 8 years old and worst of all, other kids quickly noticed.
I ate a LOT of junk food and drank a lot of soft drink. The chocolates and chips in my lunch box, ice creams and lollies from the school canteen, the Mc Donald’s treats after school on top of my mother’s delicious home cooked meals created a calorie overload.
I wasn’t an active child either, after school I would come home to my friend the television and eat one of my mums scrumptious freshly baked treats. I HATED sports at school and I was teased because I frankly wasn’t any good at them. I particularly detested running as it would quickly give me an asthma attack and my slowness was embarrassing.
One activity I did eventually get into was swimming and I was surprisingly good at it, I joined a squad team and won ribbons and medals at competitions but after Saturday morning training we would often go to Macca’s for breakfast and sadly Bacon & Egg Mc Muffins and Hot Cakes tended to negate any of the calories burned during the swim. All the other girls on the squad were slim and trim where as my thunder thighs felt exposed and my tummy rolls were visible through my swim suit.
As my body expanded my self-worth shrank, I was teased mercilessly about my size at school my best friend even stopped talking to me because she was being teased for hanging out with someone as fat as I was. I felt awful, I had no friends and I felt like I had ruined my old best friend’s life, ‘how could a worthless piece of shit like me get so fat that it was hurting my friends?” I would wonder, blaming myself for causing her such distress.
Eventually I found some friends that were new to my school but it didn’t stop the teasing and every time I looked in the mirror I would see what they saw, a fat, ugly, worthless piece of lard. Mum would take me out for coffee and cake or to Mc Donald’s to try and cheer me up and I would cry myself to sleep at night feeling fatter than ever. After a boy called me a “beached whale” at a swim meet, I stopped swimming too.
Fast forward to year 9 in high school, I had been through the ringer but had some solid friends at this point and was starting to experience mild ups and downs of what I now know was the beginnings of bipolar mood swings, when I wasn’t in a funky mood state I was pretty happy in general but I still had no self-esteem and I was still fat. I was also still getting teased on a daily basis about my size but being older and having more knowledge about why I was overweight I also knew how I could potentially lose weight.
When a hypomanic episode hit me and I found myself with incredible energy I went crazy goal setting, exercising and cutting down my meal portions, planning my life. I lost weight all right, it was falling off me but suddenly like a light switch my mood dropped into depression, I was still losing weight but I felt awful, I was still being teased, I felt like everybody hated me.
Months passed and the weight was still dropping off, terrified of gaining back any of my loss I forced myself out of the house to go for walks, I started throwing away my school lunches, putting some milk and a few cornflakes in the bottom of the bowl and putting it in the sink to make it look like I had eaten breakfast. I went to the local gym and did aerobics classes and cardio and started keeping a diary of everything that went into my mouth, I had become completely obsessed.
Over time I lost so much weight other people were worried about me, at 165cm I weighed 44kg. I would get a strange high from the feel of my hip bones jutting out and from the sense of power and control I felt over myself all the while ignoring the fact that my hair was falling out and my periods had stopped. I made my own dinners using the lowest calorie items I could find and made a rule that for every calorie I consumed I had to burn two, the thought of gaining weight was terrifying and I started to imagine that there were calories free floating in the air, scared to breathe in too deep in case I inhaled them.
I would eat anything prepared by anyone else in case they had contaminated it with calories, I trusted no one, everybody was trying to make me fat. My Mum took me to the doctor but knowing I would be weighed I drank nearly four litres of water before my appointment to make myself heavier, I felt like my bladder would burst as I feigned surprise that people were concerned about my weight and told the doctor what she wanted to hear “I guess I had better eat more if you think I should”.
Somehow I managed to avoid hospitalization as I was about two kilos over the “admission weight” for anorexia (thank you water loading). At 15 years old and in year 10 at high school, I carried on with my disordered eating and got a dog, a border collie named Bowie. I walked that poor dog to within an inch of his life. I also made a friend who was as fucked up as I was from an eating perspective and we (pardon the pun) fed off each other which was all fun and games until she ended up hospitalized.
That shook me up big time and I started to settle down a bit, don’t get me wrong I still hated myself and I was still scared of food but I was able to hide it better and function at home and at my part time job as long as my list of “rules” was adhered to.
Months passed and on a bit of a hypo manic surge I punched a girl at school who had been bullying me since primary school. God it felt good. That was to be my last day of school, I was done with all the bullshit and when they told me I would have to have mediation with this girl at 15yrs old I walked out of the building and never went back.
The pet shop where I held my part time job was looking for a full timer and after discussions between my boss and parents they decided earning money would be better for me than roaming the streets. Six months later my weight was stable on my strict regime and I left home to a place I will talk about another time, most importantly for me at the time it was where I could control all aspects of my food intake. I was free, or so I thought, but in fact I was far from it, I was trapped in a web that has entangled me to varying degrees ever since. Pregnancy, meds, holidays have all impacted my weight and relationship with my body.
My mood tends to directly tie into my food issues, the food issues are always there but the degree in which they impact me relates to my moods. For example if my mood is stable I hate my figure and am unhappy about my weight but don’t care enough to actually try and actively fix it or kill myself, when I am depressed I binge eat badly and my weight becomes “just another reason” why I should commit suicide.
When I am hypomanic I tend to take care of myself, I have more energy so I eat better and exercise more although I have to watch it doesn’t get out of control, I don’t allow myself to be weighed and I don’t allow myself to properly calorie count, my husband has also capped my exercise to 1hour daily.
As my hypomania increases my care about these rules flys out the window and I start weighing, counting and exercising in secret, not to mention the calories I burn off from not being able to sit still and jiggling constantly. If I progress to mania my eating disorder comes back in full force, probably because it is the only thing I can control. I stop eating more than a couple of hundred calories a day, I exercise compulsively and I am scared of Calories in the air making me fat again. It sounds ridiculous now, but it is terrifying at the time.
Right now I am fairly stable erring on a bit depressed mood wise, I have been binge eating daily for months and have gained around 5kg judging by the way my clothes fit. My binges tend to be on healthier foods so that saves me somewhat but they are completely compulsive, it’s as though I am watching myself go to the fridge and I just can’t stop. I don’t throw up after – not for lack of trying unfortunately. I don’t seem to be able to make myself vomit no matter how hard I try and believe me I have given it my best. Really I should be thankful, bulimia is not something I need right now.
So that’s the rather long history of my eating disorder, at 31years old I cant believe that I still struggle with it and it saddens me to think I probably always will. I could probably write about it for days if I got into all the emotions that go along with it. Feel free to ask questions though, I am happy to answer.
Do you struggle with food or weight issues?