The most frustrating part of my eating disorder is being faced with one of my biggest fears on a daily basis, multiple times.
Food is not something I can simply avoid. Not for long, anyway. I have to eat to live. Every time I am faced with a meal I feel like I am going into battle. It’s mental warfare.
I wish I could record the noise that occurs in my head and play it back for them. Then maybe they could understand. I know it’s not rational, but how can they expect me to see reality when I’m looking through a distorted lens?
It’s not just gaining weight that terrifies me. It’s a million other things, too. Before I put anything in my body, I inspect every detail. This happens through sensory observation, label reading and even internet searches. Sugar content, fat content, artificial ingredients, food coloring, preservatives, the list goes on. Even one “wrong” ingredient and the red flag goes up in my mind signaling danger.
Even when something does pass the test (or more accurately, series of tests), I still feel unshakable guilt after I eat. Is this going to go straight to my stomach? Is this going to make my face break out, or clog my arteries, or stain my teeth, or rev up my appetite, or countless other things I’m afraid will happen because I ate this?
The only (safe) way I know to shake the guilt is to distract myself. Text a friend, watch a show, go for a drive, do some homework.
I don’t want to be this way. I would love to wake up not dreading breakfast, or worrying about what I’ll have for lunch, or freaking out inside (while remaining perfectly calm outside) when a friend asks me to go out to eat. I’d love to have dinner without guilt for dessert. I’d love to be able to enjoy a meal.
When I’m with people who can eat and go on about their day without giving it a second thought, I feel like an outsider. The eating disorder feels like a parasite latched onto me even when I’m nowhere near food. It doesn’t just join me at the dinner table–it follows me to bed, in the car, between classes, and everywhere else. It doesn’t just go away when I swallow my fear along with my food.
This is more than I can handle on my own. I’m working on getting better, though. I’m taking the right steps in getting help from medical professionals and people who have experience treating these types of illnesses. In the meantime, my responsibility is to not let the voice in my head sabotage me.
Featured Image: “Anorexia” by Benjamin Watson