So I've been contemplating writing this post about my relationship with food and why exactly I feel the way I do about it for quite some time now. I've wanted to share the story of how this blog came about. As you can tell, I absolutely adore food (particularly sweets). I believe it's good to indulge a little every now and then. But my relationship with food has been a journey over many years with many highs and lows. I know I can't be the only person with such experiences, so it's been on my heart to share my story. Also, this is something that I dealt with so many years ago that, by this point, I feel comfortable talking about it. And it's not all bad. I definitely came out much stronger on the other side, and I will certainly go into that as well. Some of you may think of this as over sharing, but even if just one person who reads this can relate to some aspect of it, then my sharing will be worth it to me.
*Disclaimer: I was originally going to do one short snippet on this topic, but after writing a novel that just covered a portion of my story, I decided to break this up into segments. Keep reading for Part One.....
Through high school I never really thought much about what I ate, or didn't eat for that matter. My typical day might consist of a biscuit from Stoney's, a Zaxby's chicken finger basket with fries for lunch, a blizzard right before cheerleading practice, and then whatever mom cooked for dinner. And maybe if I was still hungry I would eat another bowl of ice cream topped with caramel syrup and sprinkles for a bedtime snack. Healthy? Certainly not. But for some reason my diet or weight never bothered me. It wasn't something I stressed over, and I certainly never felt guilty about the insanely large amount of fat and calories I shoveled into my mouth every day.
When I got to college my freshman year I wasn't happy with my weight per se, but it still wasn't anything I put too much effort or thought into. I won't go into the details, but during undergrad I went through an incredibly difficult period that left me feeling unbelievably rejected and unworthy. I suddenly questioned everything about me with regards to my physical appearance. I felt that I wasn't enough of anything.....not pretty enough, not thin enough, not outgoing enough....I could go on and on, but I'll spare you. For the first time in my life I began picking every aspect of myself apart and conjuring up ways that I could "fix" each and every thing.
I decided that the only way to fix things was to make myself as thin as the person I felt I was being compared to. Thinner than the person I felt I had lost to. Even though deep down I know I hadn't "lost" to anyone, that's how I felt. Because I was in such a dark place already, I didn't have much of an appetite in the first place, which made the whole endeavor fairly easy. In fact, the huge majority of the time I truly didn't feel like eating anything at all.
First it was losing just 5 pounds. I began getting compliments from everyone about how great I looked, which only reinforced my thought process that the thinner I got the better things would be. But then it became an obsession. I would step on the scale each morning to see how much lighter I had become within the past 24 hours. If the needle hadn't moved, it was going to be a bad day. Most days I wouldn't eat more than 600-700 calories to ensure that the needle would indeed move. And because not eating makes you hungry I would sleep an insane amount of hours each day. After all, it's easier to deal with hunger when you're not awake. I also slept so much because I had absolutely zero energy.
I always hear people say that eating disorders are about control. Also, let me interject here and say that it took me YEARS to be able to say "eating disorder" out loud. I felt like saying that out loud officially meant that I had issues. And I certainly didn't think of myself as the type of person to have such issues. Okay, now back to my point.....People say that it's not really about wanting to be thinner, but about wanting to control something in your life because everything else seems so out of control. For me, it was a combination of both. I loved the fact that I could stubbornly decide to ignore any grumbling of my stomach. I had the willpower to bypass the sandwich for dinner and opt for a small cup of hot cocoa instead.
But at the same time I did want to get smaller. I wanted to disappear, both physically and emotionally. And not eating felt like the best way to accomplish both, because it both physically and psychologically gave me this feeling of fading away. And I loved that.
But then all of the sudden the compliments stopped, and the comments of concern started coming. At the time though I honestly never saw myself as thin, so the comments never registered with me. Even when my dress size hit a 00 I still would fret while getting dressed that everything made me look chunky. It's an incredibly warped frame of mind; a true body dysmorphic experience where you look in the mirror and instead of seeing all of the bones jutting out, you see a myriad of imperfections that you, yourself create.
It's also a very exhausting place to be. Making sure that any time you are around friends or family that you're eating enough so that they don't get concerned. Which means that the rest of the day you can't eat anything. It was exhausting trying to keep up such a restrictive eating pattern, and it was exhausting trying to keep up this image of "yes, I'm healthy. See, I even ate a salad when we went out."
And of course at some point or another it becomes so exhausting you can no longer sustain the pattern. And then the recovery process begins. Or, rather for me, a swift flip in the other direction began.
I'll share more of that, as well as the rest of my story (and there is certainly more) in my next post.....stay tuned for a post tomorrow.