As some people may know, I love lasagne. A lot. To the point where it’s almost an obsession. Yes, I understand there are other pasta dishes out there but if I prefer lasagne, then I will eat lasagne. Sadly, lots of lasagne means lots of weight gain…and this freaks me out. Learning to cope with these feelings is something they teach you at the EDU, and it’s something you work on every day, even during or after recovery. So, do you ever fully recover from an eating disorder?
A part of me immediately wants to stop eating or eat as little as possible, whilst another part of me is trying to let the feeling of weight gain run parallel, so I can deal with it daily. My eating disorder came to stay when I was about 17 and has been an unwanted guest ever since, so this bizarre love/hate relationship with food is all that I know. It’s like being at war with yourself: trying to change your attitude about food and weight, which you know is wrong but at the same time is something that’s so ingrained in you.
Whether somebody has anorexia, bulimia or any other type of eating disorder, it’s not simply about how you look or trying to be a certain size…otherwise everybody who wants to lose some weight would be classed as having an eating disorder, right? No, with eating disorders, there’s a lot more to it than wanting to be drop a dress size. It’s about control. Or the lack of. The need to be in control of your life. When there are things in your life which you can’t control (eg relationships, being bullied, feeling like you aren’t good enough) then you find control through other means. Bullying people or developing compulsive disorders are ways of trying to establish control. So is the restriction or purging of food. I have a love/hate relationship with food because I’m trying to be in control of my life or, at least, a certain aspect of my life. A few months ago, it became very clear that one massive need for control whilst I was growing up was due to my gender dysphoria. Even though I now accept who I am, the tentative feelings I have about food are still hanging around. Why? Well, having a complete meltdown over the lack of treatment options hasn’t helped. I know that’s caused a lot of anxiety and feelings of helplessness. Being somebody who’s spent so much of their life alone, being helpless is not an option. Losing Brian didn’t help either. In fact, with so much going on recently, I’ve never felt more helpless. I have so many people around me and I’m no longer having to exist on my own, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m screaming on the inside. So much so, that I’ve resorted to over-eating as a way to compensate for the fact that I can’t go back to restricting my food intake. Fucked up, I know. But it all makes sense to me, in its own twisted way. But I don’t want to feel like this. My original form of control is now in control of me.
On instagram, I see so many inspirational posts, from makeup to stories of people becoming themselves to comments or opinions that I’d never considered or realised. One particular post really caught my attention a few weeks ago came from somebody I follow. This is what it said:
Wow, I wish I could think like that. As I found recently, life really is too short…so why not make the most of things, as long as I’m sensible? Could I ever allow myself to let go and adopt that sort of attitude though? Change is hard and taking a leap into unknown territory is even harder. But the thing is, she looks great. So that tells me taking a leap into the unknown can’t be bad for you?
Having been discharged from the most recent Eating Disorder Unit (EDU) quite a few years ago, am I still in recovery or am I…”all better”? Well, to be perfectly honest, I personally don’t think you ever fully recover from an eating disorder. You learn to manage and live with it, choosing the sensible options than listening to a voice you don’t know but seem to trust implicitly. I may have finished at the EDU and I may be armed with all the relevant CBT or psychotherapy to help me win the war…but it’s not a war I’ll ever win because it’s a war against myself.
Featured image: taken by me
Featured video: “Ana’s Song (Open Fire)” by Silverchair (via Silverchair’s Youtube page)