My eating disorder did not come out of nowhere. As much as people would like to think I just decided one day that I wanted to be skinny I’m here to set the record straight as that is certainly not what happened.
The hardest part about my illness is that there are so many components to it. Depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, OCD, PTSD. I have a need to cope with all of my illnesses and anorexia just seems to be recycled over and over along with cutting, burning and alcohol intoxication.
People tell me to stop with this “I’m fat shit, you are not fat and you never will be, but what you are is self – absorbed”.
These people do not understand that my desire to be thin is a product of a much greater issue. Thinness represents a sense of invisibility that I can’t seem to accomplish with these curves and long muscular legs. My eating disorder serves me in many ways. One way it does is by loving me while the people around me lack understanding and refuse to support me, not knowing that by doing this they are only validating the thought that caused this disorder in the first place.
“I’m unworthy, damaged and it would be easiest for not only me, but everyone else if I just became invisible.”
The thought that I need to be invisible seems to be the most common of themes coming from my mouth in every group. In body- image we discuss why being thin is so important. In Psychotherapy, we discuss why we feel we deserve to damage out bodies in the ways we have been. And during skills groups we talk about other ways to cope with the feelings and my answer and reaction to it all is that I am disgusting, I don’t deserve to eat, or to be seen because of having been raped. By continuing my eating disorder, I am finally taking back control and helping prevent the undeniable attraction that predators have for me. Weight to me signifies the pounds of filth my body has gathered from random strangers, it also causes my curves to dissipate without me having to wear baggy clothes, because of course I want my fellow sisters to approve of my fashion sense and the work that I so carefully put into it.
Throwing up my middle finger and giving men what I thought was the evil eye proved to be of no deterrent as most of them either got angry and hurt me with their words or threatened me. Now every time I think I have the courage to stand up for myself I shrink back into the same headspace I was in when I was raped saying to myself “I am no good, just give up the fight”. The last guy I trusted took notice of the scars on my arms and asked me why I would do that to myself. I explained to him that I had been hurt in the past and had been fed the idea throughout my childhood and adulthood that I was not worth anything just by the simple actions men took against my body and all without permission or acceptance. I thought he understood and perhaps even had some empathy, you know, because he was my friend. Just as soon as I crawled over him facing the window to go to sleep he woke me up with a kiss. I thought to myself, that was fine. I was drunk and impaired and at that moment making out was okay.
But we didn’t stay at first base, he actually decided he was going to be MVP and run to 2nd and 3rd and I, still unsure if that was what I wanted laid still in consideration of how far this game should go. “Do you have a condom?” he asked. “No, no I don’t, but I don’t want to have sex.” As I am writing this now my mind is flooding with memories of things I forgot before when giving my statement. It’s unsettling, knowing that something that happened to your body can be erased in an instant as a means of protection, but yet it backfires because you don’t remember all the details to tell the investigator. For me at least, that’s how it goes down. Anyway, I rolled over to the other side ready to go to sleep when he wrapped his arms around my stomach and chest and attempted to insert his penis inside of me. My roommates were home and just as quickly as he had run to third, my mind had run to shame and guilt therefore I refused to scream for help. But for the second time in my life I fought. “Stop” I then said his name “Please stop, I don’t want to have sex” I cried and he ignored me. All I could do was hold my legs together as tight as possible with hopes he wouldn’t protrude through my almighty barricade. But it hurt, he tore me, not just physically but mentally I was no longer whole.
That’s when my agoraphobia was at its worst. Struggling with multiple mental health illness’s already this just magnified each one on a whole new level and nobody could reach me. I was never hungry, I began weighing in every day. Cutting my breast and thighs so they would be a turn off the next time a man ever removed my clothes. Since I was already not eating there was no point in going to the store. Luckily at the very least I was able to make the walk to my doctors and counselors offices, but that was the extent of my adventures for 3 weeks. I became a hobbit in my own house. I left my room to pee and refill my glass with wine. I drank and slept and drank and slept until there was no more money for alcohol. I was left with seroquil and a bed filled the unbenign memories.
My job seemed to provide some relief, well until I purposely overdosed on accident. If that’s not an oxymoron I don’t know what is. What I am saying is I drank a lot and took extra sleeping pills in attempt to knock myself out for the next 18 hours with hopes of escaping flashbacks and such, but ended up actually harming myself in the process and landing in the ICU. Oops. I ended up in the psych ward which was loud and over stimulating. I went from being locked in my bedroom sporadically peeking out the window to make sure he wasn’t there to being locked up with a bunch of other people with mental illness. I was afraid of everyone. The screaming from other patients caused a chain reaction in which I would curl up in a ball crying and rocking back and forth. The rocking had been a new-found comfort the last few weeks when I was distraught. My friends didn’t understand it and it worried them. To be quite honest it worried me a little as well. How could I possibly make it in the real world? I mean I couldn’t stay in my room forever. The staff at the hospital continuously told me “you have to eat, it’s part of life” and when I still refused they began using food as a bargaining tool. They obviously didn’t get it, I didn’t believe I deserved food. “So, let me get this straight, you want me to eat something I don’t deserve in order to use the computer which I also don’t deserve?” Funny.
I wasn’t allowed to go home despite not being suicidal. The hospital felt I needed additional support for my eating disorder and although they were right, they could lead a girl to treatment, but you can’t make her eat. Every day after program I would come back to the apartments and purge my food. On the weekends I would work the night shift at hospice and then come home and sleep the day away. Between all of those symptoms I wasn’t gaining any weight. I also was refusing to participate in groups and hiding food whenever I got the chance. No progress was being made because I was far from ready. In my mind, even to this day every bite I take is like fighting with the devil. Each day I am taking a step towards a life I don’t believe I deserve, simply because of that tiny whisper in my ear telling me nourished perhaps when my brain is nourished I might for once believe that I am enough. For now, I have accepted the idea that I may struggle with all these negative beliefs, but for the sake of faith I will mechanically eat and participate fully on this slow walk to recovery even though each mental illness I suffer from keeps me safe from the world which is always unknown.
The rape that occurred only validates the lack of self -worth I already had, but many have told me that it’s up to me to change the thoughts and that I have a choice whether or not to believe them.
Much easier said than done, but just a little tip for those reading this, eating disorders are not clear as glass, they go way beneath the surface and as much as food may be serving a purpose for you, not eating is serving a purpose for someone else. Just chew on it. No pun intended.