Disordered Eating: A Cry for Help

One day when I was probably in seventh grade, I read an audio magazine for blind teens. It was really a mixture of its own content with content from other teen magazines read aloud. One of the articles from another magazine was about an eating disorders unit. I just remembered this as I read a passage in J.J. Johnson’s Believarexic, in which Jennifer remembers learning about anorexia for the first time in fifth grade and wondering how the celebrity who died of it, got as skinny as she did. Later on, Jennifer learns about people being hospitalized for eating disorders. She envies them because of their size but also because of the attention they get.

This hit home with me. Back in seventh grade, I had already firmly embarked on the binge eating boat, but since I was at a healthy weight for my age and height, I didn’t notice my eating had spiraled out of control already. I remember once, probably in the same year, being confronted by my classmates about getting five candy bars out of the vending machine and eating them all in one sitting. However, I just got annoyed and didn’t realize that my classmates may have wanted to protect me from unhealthful choices.

We didn’t learn about binge eating disorder or compulsive overeating in health class. All we learned about eating disorders was about anorexia and bulimia. I even did one of my gifted program projects on these eating disorders. I didn’t tell anyone that, as I was writing the paper, I was trying to figure out how I could become anorexic.

No, I didn’t “want” anorexia, like some teens say they do. No-one consciously decides to develop an eating disorder. But I did want the perseverance that I perceived anorexics had. So I began keeping food diaries. This was before I had access to the Internet and I couldn’t read packaging, so I couldn’t check calories. In truth, as I look back at my food diaries of the time, they show a pretty typical overeater’s pattern. But I wanted to have some control over my food intake by keeping these diaries. Not that it worked, of course. Over the years, my binge eating got worse.

Back to the article about the eating disorders unit. For some reason, I felt compelled to be like these patients. I don’t know whether it was pure attention-seeking. I mean, I got plenty of attention from my parents and teachers. What I might’ve been missing was someone who saw how much I was struggling. Maybe, if I became anorexic, they’d see how miserable I was.

The other day, I had a meeting with my psychologist. She wa spushing me to take steps towards independence in preparation for my move in with my husband. I can’t remember whether she said so, but she gave me the impression that she felt I was doing better because I had much fewer meltdowns and emotional outbursts. In truth, I may be a little better, but I still have a pretty miserable life and feel pretty crap. Instead of becoming self-destructive or aggressive, I lie in bed or resort to overeating. A fair quality of life is not just not being a pain in the neck, but also being able to experience pleasure every once in a while. It isn’t that I never do, but it’s quite rare that I do things that bring me any sort of satisfaction. For example, I don’t craft nearly as much as I used to, because I can’t handle the noise and crowdedness at day activities.

I was also telling my psychologist that I’m completely dependent on my treatment team. What I meant was close to the exact opposite: I have no control over what goals are set for me, but it is my sole responsibility to reach them.

In a sense, maybe this whole disordered eating thing is a way of showing peope I need help. It sounds so pathetic though: someone who’s nearly thirty-years-old needing to be taken care of like a little child. IN truth though, often I feel that vulnerable.

5 thoughts on “Disordered Eating: A Cry for Help

  1. We must all face our fears and the reality of our vulnerabilities in order to better improve ourselves. Face our weaknesses in order to build up our strengths. I wish you the very best – and the very best that your 30s has to offer. I am getting towards the end of mine and it has been a decade of epic highs and some considerable lows – but thankfully those are a blur to me, because I am moving forward and it feels good.

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  2. I don’t think there is anything at all pathetic about being needed to be taken care of like a child. In fact, over the years I have come to realise that I am an excellent mother to my children, nurturing, patient and kind and always anticipating their needs, but I have not always extended the same courtesy to myself. My children are confident and fulfilled, knowing with absolute certainty that they are loved. I wasn’t so sure about myself. Until I started to acknowledge my needs and attend to them, until I was brave enough to speak out about my pain and my own disordered eating. I have struggled my whole adult life with food – it has been my best friend and my worst enemy but now I am accepting that food just ‘is’.
    We are all on our own journeys and no-one, no matter how it may appear otherwise, has everything figured out. I hope that you are able to practise some self love and listen to that inner child who just wants to be loved. A book that helped me greatly was A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever by Marianne Williamson. It may be worth a look if when you read the blurb on Amazon, it speaks to you too.
    No matter what happens from here, the fact that you are being brave enough to blog about this and put yourself out there shows a wilingness to be vulnerable – and being able to be vulnerable is actually a source of great strength.
    Good luck with it all – and I look forward to reading a future post where you feel more in control.
    x

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  3. This is so insightful, and I’m really sorry that you’ve had to go through this. I’m happy that you are able to be honest with yourself.

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