I wouldn’t question you for being deeply confused by the title of this post. I can’t say it gives an awful lot away and you’re probably wondering what sort of weirdo loves turkey dinosaurs that much. But this is a topic I’ve never spoken about on my blog before – one I’d never really planned to speak about either but last night, as I was tucking into my turkey dinosaurs, it hit me that maybe this could be helpful to talk about. Mental health and turkey dinosaurs, how do they fit together? Let me tell you. And in case you don’t know, turkey dinosaurs are frozen oven food in the shape of dinosaurs.
I’ve always had a weird relationship with food. And I guess that falls under the mental health umbrella and anything to help spread awareness and encourage people to be more open about their mental health worries I am all for. It started when I was in primary school and my best friend at the time invited me to spend the day with her at her nan’s charity shop that weekend. I said yes but as the day was getting closer and closer, I was getting more and more nervous until the point where I was dreading it. Then I stopped eating.
Eventually we sorted out the charity shop scenario. I told my mum I really didn’t want to go and she rung up my friends nan and all was well. No hard feelings. But eating was still a problem. I physically couldn’t bare to swallow anything and this went on for around 3 weeks and I lost a lot of weight. I was taken to the doctors and they told me to keep a food diary, come back in a week and show them. And that night, I went home and ate turkey dinosaurs and potato smiley faces for dinner. I still remember exactly where I was sitting when I ate it.
After that, for a good while, turkey dinosaurs and smiley faces were the only things I could really eat. But the fact was, I was eating something. Things got better and after a while, I began eating normally again but it was an incredibly stressful time for me but more so, my parents and I can’t really imagine what it must have been like seeing your daughter unable to eat. Now whilst that’s the turkey dinosaur part of this story over, my weird relationship with food remained and still does crop up. That happened once more in the follow years then when I got to secondary school and started getting boyfriends, I found I couldn’t eat in front of them, either.
Once again, I was hit with another food problem. It’s not that I was worried about appearing greedy – I wasn’t – I wanted to eat in front of them but I physically couldn’t. The thought of eating around them made me sick. Then actually having to eat was almost torture. And 9 times out of 10, I would throw it back up. Not because I wanted to and not because I was putting my fingers down my throat but because it was like my body was rejecting the food I’d eaten when I was with them. This lasted for every single boyfriend I had from the age of 13 up until 17. The only two I’ve been able to eat normally around was my previous relationship and my current one.
I never did go to the doctors or a counsellor about that but thinking back now, I probably should have. It was very weird and bizarre and the most unpleasant of experiences. Fast forward to today and I still have a slightly odd relationship with food. I find that if I’m sad or worried or anxious, the thought of eating is too much to stomach. Some people comfort eat – but I do the opposite. I have no doubt that this is down to my mental health but I’m not ashamed of it. It sucks, yes. But I won’t be embarrassed by it or made to feel embarrassed by it.
Mental illness and eating problems can go hand in hand. And whilst I probably should had sought out a lot more help for these problems than I actually did, I hope that this post might encourage others to look at their eating habits and notice anything unusual. I’ll probably have problems eating occasionally for the rest of my life, unfortunately. And I will always have to manage anxiety and mental illness. But at least there’s turkey dinosaurs.
As always with my mental health posts, this is my own personal experience and I'm not claiming to be an expert of any kind. I simply want to talk openly about my experiences to 1) help rid the stigma and 2) be a comfort to someone else who may be going through something similar. I'm not qualified to give out diagnosis or solid advice so if you're struggling, please go and see a GP or a counsellor.