Everyone understands the negatives of an eating disorder--all the bad things that it does to a person, the people close to them, etc. (I say everyone loosely as we all know some people are forever and hopelessly clueless idiots) but all too often something that isn't understood, or understood well, are the positive things that someone gets from their eating disorder that make it so difficult. You know it is wrong, but like anything that makes you feel good, you don't want it to end.
Yes, that's right, I said it: there are aspects of the eating disorder that can make the person with it feel good. It's my own experience, and one I had to come face-to-face with this week--again. About Tuesday, I started to feel the rush of the accomplishment at having had only a bowl of granola, not eating even though I was managing a company lunch event... everyone asked if I'd eaten and I found myself just saying yes without thinking. And then I started thinking, pleased that I really hadn't. If I'd been paying attention I would have recognized the pattern two weeks prior when I started skipping dinner, just drinking coffee, and all the food I cooked in the fridge ending up going bad. But denial is a strong ally.
By the end of Tuesday, I was feeling accomplished, in control... I knew going to the gym and doing my 40 minute cardio and 30 minute strength training on what I'd (not) eaten wasn't the best idea, but the satisfaction of seeing the calories burned creep up past the number I had consumed actually felt energizing--for the moment. Like any addiction, you are caught up in the moment and not thinking about what you had to do to get to that feeling. A company required health assessment and a complete lack of energy, propelled me to try to break out of the pattern.
It's an easy thing to hide and one of the things that you do when engaged in the disorder is withdraw--from most everything. You skip going out with others so you don't have to eat in front of them or be judged for not eating. You really just don't feel good about yourself (despite those short-lived highs)--for whatever reason. But, because I'd been so good hiding at my desk, not going out with friends, not sleeping or doing the things I truly love (like writing, etc), I forced myself to just go out Thursday evening for a little while after work. It was a drive home decision but it was enough for me to start to break out of the pattern. Friday may not have been an improvement in that I hardly ate, but I started to talk to those near me--trusted friends--and started to deal with the anxiety that is one of my main triggers. There was no pressure, and it wasn't easy, but I woke this morning grateful especially for one conversation I had before leaving the office.
Today's a better day; I wish there was a prize for every time I've spewed that statement. Like I recently told a friend struggling with her own eating disorder for the first time, it isn't something that ever goes away, or is ever really cured. The best we can do is take it a moment at a time, recognize our triggers, try to be self aware and call a friend. It's easier said than done, but maybe one day, I'll just get it down.
japanese vegetable pancakes
4 days ago