Trigger warning: this blog includes descriptions of eating disorders that some readers might find distressing.
I’d allowed myself some of my “no foods”, it was Christmas Day after all. But my eating disorder wasn’t having it.
The urge to purge grew stronger and stronger. I was trying to enjoy family time but I knew that with every mouthful, I was closer to making myself sick.
I felt the rush of a binge coming on. So I made my excuses and went up to my bedroom for a “nap.”
Hiding in my pockets, however, was the rest of the food I had started. I wanted to make myself so full that it felt easy to throw up.
I was disgusting. Disgusting, that I had allowed myself to eat like everyone else, disgusting that I couldn’t stop eating and even more disgusting that I had to hide myself in my room so I could finish off my evil body’s addiction.
As a child I used to be so giddy about Christmas Day. It would be sweets and stockings then croissants for breakfast, followed by chocolate oranges whilst we opened our presents.
It was the one time of year that it paid to be a “suitcase kid,” with lots of family all over the place. It meant that I got at least two rounds of Christmas dinners, double the number of presents and, at least two “proper” Christmas days.
Until my late teens, when my eating disorder destroyed my world, especially my Christmas.
I’d still look forward to the festive period, however, as I craved for it to be how it always was.
But I knew it would be difficult and I couldn’t help but dread all the food, slobbery and socialising.
I knew I would have to indulge to “save face” but I also knew I would have to compensate. I knew I would have to see people and I would have to appear cheerful, when really, inside my head, I just wanted to be alone.
The Christmas spirit started to feel evil. It was a time of year that I had loved so deeply and yet, there was now such a stark and dark contrast.
What once was and, what my life was now.
Why couldn’t I just enjoy it? Why couldn’t I just be the ‘old’ me?
It was isolating. I was there in person but not in mind. I could see the life around me but I couldn’t feel in touch with it.
When you imagine loneliness, you think of someone sat rocking alone during the winter months.
So why did I feel so desperately alone? With so many people around me and family to visit, surely I was just being ungrateful?
Not just ungrateful but greedy too. I would sit looking at my Christmas dinner and, rather than relishing in the delight of an overloaded plate, I would be getting angry at the fat and carbs on my plate.
I was sure my family was trying to attack me with food and extra calories. I couldn’t even get away with exercising on Christmas morning because they’d say it was my eating disorder talking.
But with that anger, I also felt such sadness, that the family I had longed to be with all year and was now sat with, were unable to connect with me.
My only comfort was my eating disorder who would be telling me what to do.
My family who I loved so much, had become enemies of my eating disorder.
I wanted to please them but I also wanted to please my eating disorder. I didn’t want to fail with either.
This anguish tore me up in knots. So much so, I wanted to die.
My only pleasure came from making myself sick. It was painful, it was excruciating and it had to be done quietly but at least I was getting the food partly out of my body.
And, it was utterly gross. I’d have to throw up in bins, in sinks, in toilets, and wherever else I could, to hide my dirty secret. I would attempt to wash and flush away my sick.
But my swollen face told a different story.
My bloodshot eyes. My red knuckles. My bloated stomach. The bare cupboards. The blocked pipes. The empty boxes of laxatives.
That was my Christmas. Me and my bulimia.