*Trigger warning: eating disorders, disordered eating and vomit*
I think this post has come at a convenient time as we’ve just seen the release of the Netflix original movie, “To The Bone”, this month – a film, based on true events, about a girl with anorexia and her journey to recovery. Which I actually enjoyed – though it’s definitely not without it’s faults but I think they did a great job on a whole. But anyway, I’m not here to discuss the movie (if you do want to discuss the movie, please leave a comment as I’d love to hear what you thought!), I’m here to lay myself bare and talk about my disordered eating throughout my life.
It’s not an embarrassing topic and along with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues, it’s something we should be talking about more. Because eating disorders are just that, a mental health condition. They’re not shameful and anyone who has been through an eating disorder will know how incredibly difficult it is. Today I want to look back into my different types of disordered eating throughout my life and show that not all eating disorders come in the form of anorexia or bulimia. They’re not all “obvious” and it’s important to remember that.
Attachment: When I was young, like Primary school age, I was super attached to my mum. I hated being without her and I hated it when she went out without me. My first bout of disordered eating came when I was abot 8/9 when my best friend at the time invited me to spend the day at her grandmothers charity shop. It was only around the corner and it would have only been for a couple of hours. I worked myself up so much and got so worried (because I wouldn’t be with my mum) that I stopped eating.
Aftermath: I didn’t end up going but by then, my disordered eating / anorexia had firmly settled in. I felt better mentally, my mum told me if I didn’t want to go I didn’t have to and that’s fine. But I had gotten so used to not eating, I physically couldn’t anymore. I didn’t want to eat and everything I did, I involuntarily threw back up and I specifically remember my Nan telling me one day I was going to wake up and be a bag of bones.
Recovery: I was forced to go to the doctors and I was told to make a food diary. The only thing I could bare eating was turkey dinosaurs and potato smiles. So that’s all I ate. But I kept it down and filled in my diary. Over time, my eating got back to normal. I had another bout of the exact same hung a few years later but I can’t remember what caused that one.
Boys: Fast forward a good few years to my teens. I started getting boyfriends – obviously not serious ones but still boyfriend’s nonetheless. And I found suddenly, I couldn’t eat in front of them. Not because I was worried about looking greedy or anything like that – I was pretty confident in myself – I physically couldn’t eat in front of them. I would have to force food into my mouth, try and battle away the nausea and then throw it back up after dinner. Involuntarily. It was like my body was rejecting food every time I was with a boyfriend. It wasn’t any one specific person either, it was more or less all of them.
Looking back: My last 3 relationships (my current one and my previous 2) I haven’t had this problem with, thankfully. This mostly occurred between 13 and 16. I don’t know what changed, a switch got flicked and that part of my psyche turned off. But I’m always baffled looking back at that part of my life because still to this day, I don’t know what was wrong with me.
Self esteem issues: When I hit 17 / 18, I started going to the gym and watching what I ate. I was very active, I did a lot of P.E, I was always out and about and I went to the gym multiple times a week. When it came to the time when myself, my boyfriend at the time and a few friends booked a holiday abroad, I went into complete overdrive. I would often go to the gym twice a day and limit myself, some days, to 800 calories a day. I was so bored of lettuce but I was doing all of this because I wanted to look the best in a bikini. I got it in my head and it wouldn’t go. Looking back, I had a great figure. I would kill to have that figure now. But what I saw with my own eyes didn’t match up to what I actually looked like and it was getting borderline dangerous. I hate myself for doing that.
Anxious eating: My whole life I’ve never been able to eat when I’m nervous. And since being diagnosed with anxiety, that’s got a hella lot harder. When the simplest things trigger huge bouts of nerves, it’s hard to function. I feel sick, the thought of food makes me want to throw up but at the same time, not eating makes me more anxious. So I find myself swallowing my food down with water because I physically can’t chew it.
People and food can have complicated relationships. If you don’t and never have done, please, count yourself lucky. But if you have, please know that it’s okay and not embarrassing. Anorexia and bulimia are heart breaking and it’s good that they’re being talked about more now (although still not enough), but disordered eating goes much further that just those two titles. No eating disorder is better than the other. It’s not a competition. But there are so many strands of disordered eating, it would be impossible to count. I feel incredibly vulnerable talking about this but I hope you’ve gained something from this post. If you think you’re suffering from an eating disorder, please go to your GP. If you can’t, call a helpline or see a therapist. But please seek help because there is help available. Similarly, I’m obviously not a professional but I’m always around as an ear to listen if you ever need to talk.
Peace out ✌🏻