When you’ve had an eating disorder for so long, you become numb to the feeling of not eating. The fear that food will harm you is entrenched into your mind, so you just don’t allow yourself to enjoy food. The act of eating almost turns into a mundane chore. I never thought I’d be able to stop feeling guilty about eating. But slowly but surely, I am getting there.
Being in recovery and actually working hard in it has taught me a lot of things. Before, I couldn’t allow myself to feel the guilt in all its glory. I could never sit with the fact that I had food in my stomach. Something had to be done to get rid of the guilt, to get rid of the food. I know all compensatory behaviours too well.
My anorexia was never really about food. It never started because I wanted to lose weight. It was about controlling and coping with a very chaotic mind, stemmed from emotional childhood trauma that I had faced but had never acknowledged. I wanted to feel something else, something other than loneliness and worthlessness. I wanted something that I could feel powerful by and excelled at. Losing weight was my thing. Anorexia made me feel in control when my life was out of control. I only wanted to lose weight not because I wanted to be thin, but because I saw it as a way to disappear completely. I wanted to match how I felt outside to how I felt inside. Empty.
In the midst of all that, I forgot how to enjoy food and enjoy it socially with others. I never really gave myself a chance to stop and be thankful for the food in front of me. I have been allowing myself to open up to others about feeling “shameful” about eating and learning how to enjoy food again. It is okay to admit that eating makes me feel greedy and fat. But to challenge this, it meant constantly reassuring myself that this meal will not make me fat and lose control. I can now see the rationale of it all. I can now see how distorted anorexia made me.
Each day, I work on my recovery and challenge the disordered thoughts. I have noticed I am now fighting for myself more frequently than I am fighting against myself. I say yes to invites that involve food. Saying yes hurts. It still does because it makes my disorder angry. How can I say yes to food, greedy pig, I hear the voice say. But what hurts more is missing out on socialising opportunities with friends and family and capturing fun and memorable moments together. So yes, it really is okay to eat.
You have to learn how to live again and, like with any lessons, you often have to fail to learn the best way or the right way...
In the past I’ve wanted to hide the eating disorders that are part of my history, but I want to shout from the rooftops: I'm proud of how far I had come!
What a year 2020 has been in general for everyone – it was a year no one ever could have imagined, from panic buying, toilet roll shortages, lockdowns and restrictions. Yet for so many, including me, the battle against an eating disorder continued.