This blog contains descriptions of living with an eating disorder
As we enter in to the new year, conversations completely revolve around food - calories, dieting…. The reality is, it is such a nightmare for everyone! But for people with eating disorders, or people in recovery, there is that nagging feeling that maybe you should give up fighting and lose that weight.
I was relieved today not going in to the office where I was going to be faced with diet plans, discussions around calories… Yes, these people are allowed to discuss what they want, yes they can diet if they want, but for people in recovery from an eating disorder it can have a triggering impact. And we need to be aware of those around us.
From the age of 12, every year my New Year resolutions always evolved around diets, not snacking, exercise. All up until aged 17 when my heart nearly stopped and I was admitted in to a mental health hospital where I spent the next year of my life batting to get well.
So this January, here are five things to remember as you head back to the office (but please try and remember these all year!)
Eating disorders aren’t just about weight: When I was 13, I first started skipping meals; yes I had body image issues but my main reason for doing this was so that I stopped feeling things. I was fed up of my family arguments and fed up of not being completely happy with life and skipping meals gave me reassurance and made me feel good again. These feelings were short lived and looking back they didn’t complete me at all but at the time I certainly put all my time and effort in to them.
Just because you can’t see someone is struggling with food doesn’t mean they aren’t: I sit down at meals every day and I get on with it and the majority of the time I feel fine. However, there are still some days when I struggle and depending on where people are at in their recovery these days will happen. I used to sit down to a meal, frantically add up the calories on the plate, the fear flooding through me. I felt lost and alone and the guilt that swallowed me after was intense. But you get through it and you keep going. You just have to talk about how the meals and general food make you feel.
You can’t see yourself the way others do: I get up each day and look in the mirror. Some days I see a normal sized, athletic shaped girl. Other times I see a huge person staring back at me. Before I got admitted to hospital I didn’t think I was that thin. I didn’t believe it when the outpatient teams told me I was going to die if I didn’t start eating and when everyone said I looked so unwell with my size, I thought they were trying to make me fat. But on the first Friday in hospital, after a long three days of trying to eat, tears and feeling completely alone, my key worker came in to see me. She got me to draw on huge piece of paper how I saw myself and then she drew round me. The images were amazing in how they didn’t match up. After initially thinking she had somehow lied to me, I realised she might be right and it was that point that I realised that maybe my perception of myself was all wrong.
Eating disorders dominate your entire life: It is not simply about food but about so much more. It is important that the problem is tackled head on and that people are given time to recover.
Think: Simple you might think so, but next time you talk about dieting please just be aware of the people around you.