disordered eating

i’ve always been insecure.  i’ve never felt confident in my own skin.
finally i learned to abuse my body to make sure i was always in control.
i wasn’t going to hurt again, not without deciding who, when, and why.
it was my own defense mechanism that made me feel like i was finally in control.
except i wasn’t.
technically, i’m still not. i still cry for hours after i try on pants. i still have my days where i won’t eat because i’ve made myself nauseous thinking about every bad little thing.
i’m still terrified that i’ll wake up one day being told i’m not enough.
i can’t remember who i was before i was afraid of everything.
what i can remember is that eating was always weird for me.
i knew i had to be a “good girl” about it.
i knew i shouldn’t obsess, but obsession was expected from me by society.
i would buy the food i wasn’t obsessed with only to check out in an aisle where magazines boasted women folded over themselves, thin and glossy, even beautiful in a pout, bold letters underneath promising new ways to obsess about food.
i didn’t really care about being thin, but i knew i should care.
i didn’t care if other people were big, but i felt out of control when i felt big.
i felt swollen or greasy or gross; sometimes all of the above.
i loved when i could forget about it, but i often couldn’t. feeling like those other people that ate less judged me for eating more – even though i never judged anyone for what they ate or how often.
it was a fine line.
we could joke about diets and calories and complain about how wide we were – but if you talked about it too much, threw away too many lunches, didn’t smile fast enough, you were crazy. it became this odd hole, where i’d eat to fix things, but eating made me feel guilty. i couldn’t do it normally. three meals was too many, then not enough. one meal would have thousands of calories one day, the next i would spread out celery sticks, never eating them, just to look. i just wanted to be normal.
and something about eating took that from me.

– excerpt from a book I’ll never write

let’s get real

about eating disorder recovery for a minute.

For reference, I’m 5’4.5″ (I won’t post weights for the obvious and not so obvious reasons.) On the left I was near my lowest weight and I always felt like shit.
On the right, well, I still feel like shit some days, but definitely not as much.
I’m surely healthier now, but that mentality isn’t something that will ever fully go away.

Do I look like I’ve gained 15-20 pounds?
Probably; I have boobs, I have an ass, and my thighs that I had been so self conscious of all those years are clearly bigger.

Do I feel like I’ve gained 15-20 pounds?
Yes, but I also know it was necessary.

The thing is, not many people see this huge difference that I see.
Sure, people can tell, but can they tell how many pounds I was obsessed over?
Doubt it.
No one cares what your body looks like as nearly as much as you do.

Scales are stupid. Eating disorders are stupider.

quiet convos

ED: you'll lose weight.
Me: i'll lose myself.
ED: you'll gain control.
Me: i'll lose control.
ED: you'll be skinny.
Me: i'll be sick.
ED: you'll be confident, so many more people will like you.
Me: i'll push everyone away.
ED: you can finally wear that little black dress.
Me: i'll be insecure and hide in baggy jumpers, sweats, anything.
ED: you'll socialize.
Me: people will worry more and I'll lie, constantly saying, "I'm fine."
ED: you'll feel better
Me: i'll feel weak and tired.
ED: you'll reach your goal weight
Me: i'll never exist.
ED: you'll be great.
Me: i'll be dying.

there are so many days I have this fight with myself.
it’s never an easy battle, but for the past four years, I’ve won.
for six years, I lost.  That’s a quarter of my entire life, but I refuse to say that I “suffer” from an eating disorder.
Nobody forced me to have one.
Not the history of them in my family, not the media, not my peers.
It wasn’t something I set out to develop, but I clearly didn’t turn it away when it did.
It has taken many forms.
There are times when I had been heavier, and times when I’ve been lighter, but it has never gone away.  The thing is, when this happened, everyone asked me what caused it.
I’d say, “I don’t know”, knowing full well what it was.
Here’s the thing: it is literally SO EASY to hide eating disorders.
I did it consistently for six years.
My family that I lived with DIDN’T KNOW.
My boyfriend of two years that I’d spend nearly every day with DIDN’T KNOW.
My coworkers that would eat with me on my lunch break DIDN’T KNOW.
You can eat completely normal while you are with others, but still practice destructive behaviors when you’re alone.
I knew all the while it was dangerous, but it’s easy to dismiss the danger when you can’t actually see all the damage being done.
I may be underweight, but I am by no means “scary thin”.
Eating disorders cannot be measured by weight; they don’t always make you “skinny”.  However, they will always destroy the actual function of your body.
My life expectancy has been significantly decreased, and there’s no way around that.
There’s no “redo” button.
There’s no reversing the damage I have already caused.
I already have a heart murmur, not to mention any other damage done to my heart.  I may die relatively young from this damage, and it is from nothing other than this.
All I’m trying to say is: it’s serious, even if you can’t see it with your own eyes.

until you can find your words

Hi.  I’m Brigit.
I have a mental illness.
I have anxiety.  I have depression.
And everyday, I am recovering from an eating disorder.

My mother is always going to worry about me, and to an extent, she should.
I mean, that’s what parents do, no matter how old you are.
The only thing is, like many people, she doesn’t know how to go about discussing any of this with me.

So, to start, I would like to say:
If you don’t understand how anyone is driven to continue to starve despite everything they have lost in the process, good. 
I hope you stay heavy and present and real.
If you don’t understand what eating everything in your kitchen only to throw it up solves, good.
I hope you always remember that it solves nothing.
If you don’t understand mental illnesses, good.
You shouldn’t have to.

And if you want to know something, just ask.  Don’t tip toe around it, for fear of triggering me.  Don’t ask and then joke about something else for fear of making me upset.  I am probably more open than most people.  Actually I know I’m more open than most people.  I am not embarrassed or ashamed of my mental illness.  I am not embarrassed or ashamed of my scars.  I am embarrassed for society, for attaching this stigma, and shaming us for seeking out help.

I, like others, didn’t ask to be mentally ill.
I, like others, don’t do this for attention.
These things just happen; and we shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed.
So, for those of you that don’t know what to say, or how to ask, here’s a little information that might just help you find your words.

  • Saying that I look “too thin” is not something I want to hear.  It doesn’t make me feel better or successful, it just makes me nauseous. It makes me feel like a failure for not trying hard enough. Actually, I have a girl living in my brain screaming at me that you’re a liar.  Now, because of where I am, your words don’t fuel my will to starve, nor do they fuel my will to recover.  That’s on me.
  • I know that my worth isn’t dependent on my appearance.  However, in previous years, I didn’t feel attractive in my own skin.  That’s a symptom of something else, and I’ve learned to deal with that.
  • Just because I don’t find myself attractive in my own body doesn’t mean I think you’re fat or ugly. This is a self loathing, and has nothing to do with anyone else. 
  • I had a lot going on, and everything around me seemed out of my control, so this let me have a small piece of power, a sense of stability, if you will.
  • There are a LOT of eating disorders out there that still allow you to eat, so no, it’s not hard for me to eat.  I love food.  Like, literally, I love food.  But this, this was just a way to avoid having to deal with my feelings.

    It is a mental illness.

  • Eating disorders do not discriminate.  They don’t give a shit about race, weight, height, gender, or sexual orientation.  Eating disorders do what they want, when they want. They are also more than just the physical pain they cause you. Psychologically, I was in a massive amount of pain.
    So please, do not assume I am lying or joking about having an eating disorder because you can’t see my ribs, because I don’t have a feeding tube, or because you’ve just “watched” me eat dinner.
  • Yes, I am eating.  Does that mean I’m recovered? No.  No. No.  Nonononono.
    But I’m sure as hell trying.  It’s not as easy as just eating a meal and all the sudden I’m cured.  This is a mental process.  It is a fight of when to eat and what to eat, and am I hungry? It has taken me years to become happy with myself again, and I gotta say, when I’m hungry, I eat.  I don’t hate myself for eating pizza instead of salad. I don’t purge everything from my stomach because I think that will fix things.
    I’ve learned to stop torturing myself because I think it’s what I deserve.
  • Recovery is an everyday battle.  It takes practice.  The voice telling me that I’m not good enough, that I don’t deserve happiness or friends, that bad things wouldn’t happen to me if I were thinner/prettier/cooler/blah blah blah ?  Yeah, she’s still there.  I’ve just gotten better at ignoring her. Some days are hard, and some are almost unbearable, but I will never forget the nights I cried for hours on the bathroom floor wishing I could be someone else, anyone else.

At some point you have to stop being so angry and sad, and you have to stop killing yourself.  It is a waste to be so unhappy over trivial things. I know that just because I can do anything doesn’t mean I have to do everything.  I can’t control what other people will say or do.  I can’t control the outcome of the weather, and I can’t control what people think of me.  I am just one person.  I don’t have to take it out on my body just because someone pulled out in front of me on the drive home.  That happens to me all the time, but it’s out of my control, and just because some asshole doesn’t know how to drive doesn’t mean I don’t deserve lunch.

I am happy, and I am healthy, and I am no longer my own worst enemy.  I appreciate all that my body can do, rather than punishing it for what it can’t do.
I am not broken.  I am not weak.  I am not stupid or vain.
I am human, and I am growing and changing, and I am done hating myself.
I laugh.  I find joy in the littlest things.  I am learning. And I will continue to grow.