There’s very few things I won’t tell you–I’m an open book almost to a fault and basically incapable of lying. But I’ve never told a single soul about my eating disorder
Last Wednesday I read Rachael Sacks’ piece, The Post Eating Disorder Grey Area.
From as far back as I can remember, I’ve compulsively read or watched anything and everything concerning body image or eating disorders. Rachael’s piece was well written, poignant at times, and while I may not be her biggest fan, I admired her candor about such a personal matter.
Some readers applauded and thanked her. Others actually admonished her, taking personal offense, implying that she was an affront to people who were truly sick. There also seemed to be some contention regarding the difference between an eating disorder and disordered eating. It may merely sound like a question of semantics, but I completely understand the distinction.
I am not nor have I ever been diagnosed as anorexic, but I have dealt with extremely disordered eating as well as a distorted body image for the last 15 years. It’s always been feast or famine with me. I restrict severely until I get to a certain weight and then as soon as I hit it I will usually put the weight right back on, almost automatically usually through periods of heavy binging. When I happen to be in the throes of either extreme, it is a dark place and a time of total isolation and shame.
I don’t talk about it for a couple reasons. One is that those who are “normal,” simply don’t get it. I am a highly intelligent and rational person, but there is absolutely nothing that makes sense about this disorder. They’ll say, “Just have one piece of cake and then work out tomorrow.” They don’t understand the rules.
People that tell you to just eat a healthy and balanced diet and work out sensibly do not understand the rules. There is no balance.
I couldn’t even tell you anymore what a healthy and balanced meal looks like–It’s all or nothing. I can’t have one piece because then I’d have to eat the whole cake. I can only work out when I’ve been restricting. See? Nothing makes sense. So it’s easier just to keep it to myself. Plus, many people only see eating disorders as either starving to death or puking your guts out. There is, as Rachael says, this grey area.
I also don’t talk about it because I’ve never gotten my weight low enough.
I usually teeter between average and thin, but I’ve never gotten myself below 108 lbs. Therefore, I feel I have no right to even call myself truly disordered. Secretly I consider myself a failed anorexic. It sounds asinine and even offensive, because why would anyone in their right mind wish for that? But I look at those very sick girls, those whose weight has bottomed out in the low 80’s, and a voice inside me tells me that I too could get there if I were strong enough and had their discipline. I know. It sounds demented when you say it out loud. That’s why we keep it inside.
I don’t ask for help because I haven’t ever physically gotten to that dire place–But maybe it’s more dangerous to be where I am, because I could keep like this forever.
So do Rachael or I qualify for an eating disorder? Did we make the team?
Should it matter?
There are no winners in this game. It’s all different levels of fucked up whether you eat one meal a day or you’re on a feeding tube. I don’t think I will ever get to a place where I need serious help, and I don’t know how to classify myself. But I do know that this is not how I want to live my life.
So I wanted to take the first step and be honest. Rachael shared her story, and instead of breaking her down for not being “disordered enough”, we should use it as a forum to share our own stories and support one another. Sometimes it can feel like you’re in this alone, but trust me, you’re not.