if you have been diagnosed with an eating disorder, or are currently struggling with one, this post may be triggering for you. If you have not yet found help, please do so. There is help out there. While I have not found the light at the end of the tunnel, I know it is there, and I do believe that it is possible to be healthy. Please visit the website of the national foundation for eating disorders . They have resources to help, and supports, even lists of real life supports. There are really good therapists out there, even ones who won’t force you to change right away, or push you to talk.
In the past, I have been diagnosed with anorexia, bulimia, eating disorder not otherwise specified, a combination of anorexia and bulimia, and with binge eating disorder. You name it, I have been diagnosed with it. In reality though, my habits never really change much. I feel like the diagnosis changes based on my weight. My habits tend to cycle:
Don’t eat. Skip as many meals as possible. If I eat, eat as little as possible. If I eat what a normal person would eat, possibly figure out a way to get rid of that food– exersise, throw it up, take a laxative. Or, alternatively, maybe I am in a better place, and I keep the food down. I may manage to go a few days without eating and then lose it, and stuff my face. I could then throw that food up, or keep it down. I go through phases where I try to eat normal, and I eat breakfast, lunch, dinner. I go through phases where I crave some kind of food, and I stuff down a bagel or cracker or cereal in secret. I live off lemon iceys, coffee, and sprite zero. I have so many tricks to make it look like I am eating, and tricks to make it seem normal when I go to throw up what I have eaten. I’m not your average bulimic. I have never eaten the large amount of food that research papers and books talk about bulimics eating. Think of a normal amount of food, what you ate for dinner last night. That would be a “binge” to me. That is what I would throw up.
Right now, I am at a heavier weight. I won’t post my current weight, because I’m too ashamed of what it is. I hate that I am at a heavier weight, and I know that every time I skip eating, and then eat and don’t purge what I eat my body stores that food because I have sent it into starvation mode by not eating, which makes it impossible to lose any weight. I know this, but I can’t stop what I am doing. I have weighed everywhere from 93lbs, to 170lbs. I’m not at the highest end of that scale right now, thank God, but I’m not at the lowest end, either.
I define food in terms of good and bad. I think of myself in terms of good and bad, often times based on what I have eaten or not eaten that day. I try very hard not to do this with Kat, of course. The rational part of me realizes that my eating behaviors are not good or healthy. I don’t want Kat to start to copy these behaviors. I want her to have a good relationship with food. I want her to enjoy food, to see it as fuel for her body.
I have told Bea my past history with food. I have not informed her of how bad it was. I have not really told her that I still struggle. Little by little, I have told her small things. Like when I was back at my parents and I are two donuts and then threw up, I emailed Bea and told her what was happening and what I had done. Or, at Kat’s last appointment, when Bea suggested I allow Kat to feed me, and I feed Kat (to help with attachment issues for kids on the spectrum) and I freaked out, admitting with much shame, “I can’t let her feed me. I have food issues.” Of course, Bea took this in stride, acting like my confession was no big deal and suggested we could play baby and I could feed Kat, instead.
In one email, Bea and I briefly discussed disordered eating, my mom, Kat, and myself. I said that this was something that should be talked about at some point but I wasn’t ready yet. I also told her that I “rarely” threw up any more. I didn’t classify “rarely”, though. Bea replied back to that email that the eating was “very much worth talking about”. She also said that most women who walk into her office have issues with food in one way or another.
I know that I should discuss the food issues with Bea. I know I should talk about my disordered eating. I know I should probably be sent to a nutritionist to learn what really is normal eating because the truth is, I have no idea. I don’t want to talk about it though. Part of me thinks Bea won’t believe me because I don’t weigh 93lbs. I think that she will decide I am a liar; after all, anyone who skips meals as often as I do should be skin and bones, not fat and curves (and while I may have a slightly distorted body image, it’s not that distorted, I’m a size 8, sometimes a 10). So, I’m embarrassed because I think she won’t believe me. And while my behaviors do cycle, and they are in a worse cycle right now, I’m not really sure it is that important to bring up. I also am afraid that she will decide I am exaggerating or lying, so therefore I might be lying about everything else.
The rational me knows that Bea would believe me, and be compassionate about my eating struggles and that she would help me however she could. I also know that one day I will fee safe enough to really bring it up. Bea believes in putting all the “symptoms” on the table first, before the trauma memories. She believes in finding ways to cope with the symptoms before really looking at and processing the trauma memories. Of course, sometimes trauma memories come up and need to be looked at, and that okay, too. I know, rationally, that Bea would consider these food issues a major symptom to be dealt with. It frightens me, though, because to really deal with the food issues could take a year….or longer. That is overwhelming to me. Perhaps I’ll bring this up tomorrow morning.