When the eating disorder ends… does it ever really go away?
April 3, 2019/
It seems like a lifetime ago I battled with an eating disorder. I don’t talk about it much, not because I am embarrassed about it but because sometimes I forget that I even had it…. But then I see it…. It’s there hiding in other areas of my life. I think we all feel screwed up in some way but as we age we find ways to hide it better or, we put our “stuff” on other things.
I battled bulimia seriously from around the age of 13-16… fortunately for me, my parents caught it and I was admitted as an out-patient to the B.C Children’s Hospital out-patient program under the supervision of renowned physician Dr Roger Tonkin. I saw Dr Tonkin twice a week, this included weigh in’s, healthy food habit coaching and A LOT of therapy. I had many hidden emotions and conflicts as a teen. I liked the control I felt to eat .. purge… eat .. repeat. Somehow it gave me a feeling of power in my life. I was (am?) a perfectionist. I didn’t want to disappoint my parents AND I wanted to be perceived as pretty AND be accepted by a certain crowd at school (these three did not go well together and I ended up feeling like I was disappointing my parents, not pretty enough and not popular enough- you can see where the inner conflict came in. ?
It was not just about looking a particular way, it was about low self -esteem and control. I could not always be in control of whether or not the kids at school would accept me or if I’d always be able to make my parents happy, but I could control my weight by eating or not eating. I will write a post another time on how I still try to control my life…. I do have more issues than Vogue?
It was not just about looking a particular way, it was about low self -esteem and control
Part of the motivation to start this blog in the first place was vulnerability…. Being able, to be honest with who I am, where I was, where I still struggle and where I want to go in life.I find that I still try to be in ‘perfect mode’ with people. Looking a certain way (yes, I have an addiction to eyelash extensions and I highlight my hair?… please don’t judge), maintaining a certain standard of life, having my children behave a certain way and having a fabulous marriage….. none of which are perfect or always so fabulous.So, what does this have to do with an eating disorder? Now that I am “grown up” these control and perfection issues still creep back in and I find that I look for ways to feel in control …perhaps not as physically destructive as an eating disorder but for sure not healthy. I catch myself falling into traps… At times I maybe workout too much, or try a “new way” of eating. I am not judging anyone on their dietary choices however for me I really have to watch how restricted I become in my eating….carbs, no carbs, protein, vegetarian, vegan. Probably the most noticeable and most obvious red flag that I am desperate for control is when I over exercise. What do I mean by that? For me, it is hard to not exercise every day for more than an hour (even on days when I am under the weather and should probably just be resting). That may not be excessive for everyone, but for me It is. Whether it’s food or exercise or washing my floors (don’t laugh… my husband can always tell when I’m not doing well by I how many times I wash the floor in a week?) I can slip into restrictive or regimented behavior very quickly which consumes me if I am stressed in my life and looking for control. When I catch myself falling into old habits, I go back to things that have helped me before… reading my devotions, changing up my daily routine, stop eating so restrictively, writing down positive things in my life, praying, going to therapy, going for a walk not a run, calling up a trusted friend and telling them I am struggling. I am able to maintain a healthier balance in my life when I do these things. I know it sounds so cheesy but I really try to love my self and who I am … to stop the restrictive behaviour before it gets away on me. It’s interesting but as we get older there really is less we can control. This has been a difficult, conscious decision to love myself, accept that life can sometimes get out of my control and remind myself that I do not need to be perfect and I can sit in the uncomfortableness of a messy, unpredictable life.
Symptoms of An Eating Disorder:
·Chronic dieting despite being underweight
·Constant weight fluctuations
·Obsession with calories and fat contents of food
·Engaging in ritualistic eating patterns, such as cutting food into tiny pieces, eating alone, and/or hiding food
·Continued fixation with food, recipes, or cooking; the individual may cook intricate meals for others but refrain from partaking
·Depression or lethargic stage
·Avoidance of social functions, family, and friends. May become isolated and withdrawn
·Switching between periods of overeating and fasting