Today I’ve been struggling a lot. My motivation is low and so is my self-esteem. And the first conversation I had for the day was about food.
There’s some background information on that last sentence which connects it to the rest.
I have an eating disorder. I doubt I’d be medically wrong if I called myself anorexic. But this isn’t something that came from body image issues. I loved my body. I don’t know who I am anymore when I look in the mirror. My clothes hang off me and I hate this shrinking skeleton I’ve become.
If I love food, and I loved my body at my biggest, why do I have an eating disorder?
I have always had a complicated relationship with food. When I was younger I wasn’t able to eat a lot. I would eat, get full or nauseous, and not be able to finish my plate. I can’t even remember why I struggled so much. It drove my parents crazy. Some days I would be stuck in the kitchen until bedtime because I couldn’t finish my food.
Just before high school, I started to love food. Even up until I left high school, I could pack away more food than my father at dinner time, despite him being a foot taller and 80 pounds heavier. I ate everything that was put in front of me.
But I started struggling with pain more. Going to university, commuting, stress, and work took a toll on my body. For the first time I realized being disabled was going to affect me and I was going to keep dealing with chronic pain. I was constantly nauseous and dealing with headaches. I’d get back pain so severe I’d throw up and be stuck in bed.
And I stopped eating.
I was down to one meal a day – sometimes meal is a bit of an exaggeration for what I would manage to force myself to eat. It got to a point where I was only eating takeout or fast food. And where one combo could be spread out over two days.
I avoided going out places where I might have to eat in time sensitive situations. That ends up with me giving my food away, throwing it out, or I’ll just be walking around with take out containers.
I stopped going out with friends. I started to feel as though I could feel everyone watching me, staring at me, wondering why I wasn’t eating. Part of me feared that they thought that I wanted this. That this body, all skin and bones, is one I was striving for. I blamed money, which also played its part, and avoided all plans where I might be expected to eat.
I didn’t want to talk about how I needed help.
A friend I used to work with would surreptitiously drop food at my desk in an attempt to encourage me to eat. I didn’t start to notice until she was frequently cooking “too much food” and leaving me with leftovers. When I asked her about it, all she said was that she noticed. I cried that night.
In under 6 months I went from 115 pounds to 89. That’s nearly a quarter of my body weight. I’m constantly tired, I’m a lot weaker than I used to be, and I get dizzy a lot. Now when I try to eat, I struggle, I fight with it. I’ve sobbed over a sandwich because I could only eat half.
Now I have to have meal replacement shakes everyday, so that I’m at least getting nutrients and protein for the day. I still mostly only eat fast food, food I can trick myself into eating. I smoke weed and sit in front of the TV so I can snack absently. I’ve started drinking vegetable juice just to stop the dizziness.
I’m getting better. I sometimes eat up to two meals a day. Some days I don’t need to rely on meal replacements. I have friends and partners who I talk to about it, who tell me how proud they are when I finish a meal, and subtly encourage me to keep eating.
But I still have a long way to go. Which is why I woke up this morning and cried over the tacos, burritos, burgers, pizzas that I didn’t eat, that I couldn’t eat, that I still can’t eat. It’s never been about losing weight to me. It’s about how my body is struggling, and how I’m struggling with my body.