Author: Paige S.
In my last blog post, I talked a lot about the physical issues that I had and that anyone could have because of anorexia. But, what I [had] failed to mention was the emotional turmoil an eating disorder could have on you – the person effected – and those around you. There is a reason eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. If it physically does not destroy you, it mentally will.
My mind was a prisoner of my eating disorder. I thought about food every second of the day. I calculated what meals I could and could not have, based on them “fitting” in my calorie limit. And, if they were over by more than 10 calories, sometimes even 5, I would NOT be eating them. I remember sitting in my psychology class, writing down meal ideas with the lowest calories, when I should have been taking notes. Sometimes, if a person took out a chocolate bar or was eating a bag of chips, I would stare and wonder what it tasted like because those foods did not “fit” my calorie limit.
Whenever I went out to a restaurant – to a place that wasn’t “safe” – I would not eat and, instead, tell myself, in my head, to stay strong – I only have to sit here for an hour. Instead of focusing on the conversation and spending time with people I cared about, my eating disorder was always screaming in my head. “If you eat that fry off of LeeAnns’s plate, your entire day is going to be ruined. You’re going to step on the scale tomorrow and be one or two pounds heavier”. Realistically, a person can not gain a pound by eating a single fry, but my eating disorder did not want me to know that. It wanted me to think irrationally rather than realistically.
There weren’t many occurrences when I didn’t listen to my eating disorder and didn’t eat the “bad” food. But when I “slipped”, I was emotionally destroyed. The amount of guilt, shame and fear I felt were unimaginable. I would cry, shake, feel anxious, unable to concentrate or do anything else but think about the terrible deed that I had done. It would take me days before my body was “cleansed”, and I would feel OK (never good) again.
Now this may sound confusing, but many people also don’t realize that eating disorders usually have NOTHING TO DO WITH FOOD. Confusing? Let me explain. My eating disorder was solely based on my insecurities, my unhappiness with myself and what I looked like, and my inability to see that I was, in fact, good enough. As I lost weight, I felt prettier, more worth it, and just all around a better person. As time went on, the number on the scale was the sole factor of feeling good enough.
Another large contributor to my eating disorder was my family. I always felt a little isolated growing up in a house with 3 brothers and a father that really didn’t understand how to be a parent. Whenever he would have a bad day, it would always be taken out on me. I never felt loved, which I craved more than anything. My eating disorder was my “savior”. It made me feel like I was putting myself first. I was convinced that everyone, including my family, would like me so much more after I lost weight.
Looking back, I know that this was not true. An eating disorder is a short term solution to a long term problem. My anorexia was never going to solve my confidence issues. It was never going to make me a more likable person. In fact, it probably ended up doing the opposite.
The last part of my story, which is centered around recovery, will be addressed in another blog. But, I will say that anorexia was the easy part and recovering is the hard part. I say “is” and not “was” because staying recovered from your eating disorder is a test you have to face everyday. You never know when your eating disorder can sneak back up on you and try to take control again. It’s a battle you have to face everyday, but it’s definitely worth the fight.