I want to start off by saying that I cannot speak for all who have suffered and are suffering through their relationship with an eating disorder. All I hope is that maybe someone can recognise their struggle in mine.
A little background on me and my experience with the disease. Up to this point, I have been struggling with some form of an eating disorder for 10 years. I have been in and out of therapy, but I am now considered in control of my habits. My diagnosis was Bulimia Nervosa. Alongside that there were serious bouts of depression and self-forced starvation. While I do consider myself to be in somewhat control of the disease, there are still some things I struggle with every day. I have compiled a list of my continued battles and I hope I am not alone.
1. The voice doesn’t disappear
Unless you have had an eating disorder, it is quite difficult to explain what “the voice” is. To me, it was my inner food conscience, telling me what I could and couldn’t eat, when I should exercise, and about how disgusting I looked. For a long time, I thought “the voice” was my best friend. The habit of listening to that dark part of yourself is near impossible to break. While I might not starve myself or make myself sick anymore, that voice still tells me I am disgusting. It is getting harder and harder not to listen.
2. Eating in front of others
This is one of my biggest daily fights. I had completely reprogrammed the way I dealt with food especially in company, using a very straightforward method: Do not eat in front of others. There were many tricks I could use to make it look like I was eating (pushing the food around on a plate, spitting it into napkins, being overly chatty, or the simple “I already ate” excuse). But now, even though I am in recovery and have been for a while, I cannot get over this. It has become almost like a fear, an irrational fear at that. I am too scared of what other people will think of me eating, so I don’t do it. Unless I am completely comfortable, I cannot bring myself to eat in front of others for fear of judgement.
3. The uncomfortable feeling of being full
When in the worst of my eating disorder, I only ever felt full from water. Whenever I felt full from food, I would make sure it didn’t last long, by throwing it up in the nearest basin. Eating to the point of feeling full in recovery is nothing but uncomfortable. My body cries out for me to get rid of it, but I know I can’t. I have to ride this excruciating wave or I will have given in and the eating disorder would win.
4. The obsession with your body and everyone else’s
I have been body conscious since I can remember. This is how society judges your worth as a human — at least that’s how I see it. Trying to retrain your brain to understand that what you see in the mirror is not what other people see is my Everest. I constantly poke and prod at my flaws, I am not worthy of anything because I am not perfect. I compare myself to every single person my eyes land on. Whether they are thinner than me or bigger than me, they are always better. I don’t judge other people on their appearance anymore. I wait to know them as a person not a body, but yet I cannot look further than my mirror. I cannot offer myself the same service and compassion.
5. Weighing yourself and your weight
I used to weigh myself every morning — after I ate any food, after I threw it up, and before I went to bed. I would monitor my weight so closely that it became an obsession. I would analyse every number in great detail and fall into a deep depression when the number wasn’t low enough. Today, it is still difficult to not correlate my happiness to that number. While I do not weigh myself anywhere near as much, I still do it every day and my mood is still somewhat dictated by that number.
I am still in recovery and have not had a relapse in a little over a month now. I hope to gain more control over my life and my health over time, but for now, these are the passengers I carry with me every day.