I am not my Eating Disorder, and my Eating Disorder is not me.
What is it they say about ignorance being bliss? Oh, how right they are.
Almost three years ago I didn’t pay attention to what I was putting into my body; I didn’t own a set of scales (except kitchen ones), but I did have an exercise bike, which I hardly used.
Then came a role change at work, and with that came the purchasing of a set of bathroom scales and thus began what I did not realise at the time was my journey on the road to an eating disorder.
The reason I didn’t realise at the time was because I was heavier than I needed to be, and so I was deliberately trying to lose weight.
All I was focused on was the numbers on the scales. The more they went down, the closer to my goal I came. I didn’t realise what I was doing to myself to get there; all I was focused on was those numbers. In less than seven months I had reached my goal and now I had a new goal and that was maintenance.
But my weight fluctuated, never going up, but going down, and when it got worryingly low, I would binge to get it back to where I wanted it to be. The one thing I wasn’t paying attention was that I was still exercising the same, and weighing myself even more so than before. I look back on it and say: “why?”
Then about year later I had another role change, and I found myself in the same pattern as I did when I was losing weight. I was ignoring friends, family, and colleagues when they voiced concerns. I was still in the healthy weight range (most of the time), my blood tests were coming back and everything was in the green and where it should be, so I was healthy, right?
Wrong. So very wrong.
It took about six months, and on a whim I called my GP. Now I had an eating disorder, with associated obsessive compulsive disorder and referral to my local mental health team.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told ‘Oh, just eat more’ or ‘Just exercise less’ and all I’ve wanted to say is ‘If only it was that simple’. Actually, I want to use two four-letter words, but you get the drift.
I doubt that these people have ever woken up at 2am wanting to weight themselves (but making sure that they pee first, as they believe that they weigh less after you pee) and then go straight on the exercise bike. I doubt that they have ever gone round a supermarket determined to buy a pack of biscuits, and then have a panic attack when they have tried to put it in their basket or their trolley or had a panic attack because the battery in their scales have died, meaning they can’t weigh themselves.
It’s not that simple.
Saying that, I am also very fortunate to have friends, family, and colleagues who are understanding, supportive, and always on hand with some inappropriate humour, usually at my expense. This for me is my ‘normal’, and I would be concerned if weren’t on the receiving end of it.
Now, I’m in treatment, and the best way I can describe it is as a boxing match. My eating disorder has had the best of early rounds, it even had me on the ropes and on the canvas, but it didn’t finish me off and I’m still in this fight. My eating disorder better hope it doesn’t have a glass jaw.