I’ve discussed before about being diagnosed with an eating disorder, as well as dealing with body dysmorphia (which either led to the disorder or added to it). It took me several years to actually get a diagnosis because many of the doctors I dealt with looked at my weight and said I couldn’t have one. This of course plays into the stereotype that eating disorder = skinny or malnourished, which isn’t true.
But I’d like to discuss what goes on in my mind, even after working to overcome my eating disorder and working towards a healthy diet and body image. I will fully admit that I still have a ways to go, even if I’ve for the most part overcome the issue.
Imagine you’ve been working out, eating right, and you’ve been slimming down and toning up. You’re feeling good about yourself and how you look. A friend calls you up and invites you out, so now you’re going out to eat.
Now think about what you want to eat, doesn’t matter what it is, think about it and that you’ve decided to order it.
It comes to the table, you’re smelling the food, your mouth is watering….
And then suddenly you think about how you’ve lost weight recently and eating this will make you gain it all back. Your mind leaves the thought of eating this delicious meal and begins screaming at you that if you eat even the tiniest of bites, you will balloon into this giant fat and ugly person. You see the fat dimples on your body, you feel the shame of not being skinny, of not looking like what people say you should look like.
You push those thoughts away as best you can, because this is something you REALLY want to eat, you’ve got your favorite dish in front of you, and you really REALLY want it.
But you just can’t stop thinking about how you’re going to get fat again.
You take a bite, and it tastes better than you remember it, but that taste quickly sours as you swallow that bite, your mind’s eye showing that piece of food going directly to your stomach and you can swear you feel your pants becoming tight, even though you know you’ve dropped a size and they’re loose on your hips.
You tell yourself that it’s all in your head, that you’ve lost weight, you’re looking good, and this meal isn’t even that bad for you (if at all). You just can’t shake that image though. Each bite you take makes you feel worse, the mental images getting stronger and stronger to the point that you don’t even want to finish. You try your coping techniques, you go through the steps you’ve learned while working to overcome your disorder, and it brings a small bit of peace to you.
You finish the meal, but you feel guilty. You didn’t need to finish it all, you finished it because you’re a pig, you could have easily only eaten half and saved the other half for later! Only pigs finish the whole meal! OINK OINK!
You feel the urge to go and find something to get the food out of you, but you know that your go to method would require you to eat more (specifically carrots and apples) and the thought of doing that makes you want to cry.
You make it home and you write it all down so you can tell it to your doctor, that you still need help, but as you’re doing so the voice tells you it’s pointless, because what’s the doctor going to do? Tell you to work on your coping skills more? To seek mental help perhaps? All things you’ve done and have done for years.
So what do you do? How do you cope? Do you backslide and struggle again, or keep pushing forward as best you can?
More people than we know deal with eating disorders every day, going through struggles like this, even people who are supposedly “cured” still struggle at times. The stigma of being overweight adds to the issue, especially with the common belief that eating disorder = skinny. If you are someone who is struggling, you are not alone, and there are resources and support structures out there. The hardest step though…is to reach out and say you need help.