*Trigger Warning: If you deal with an eating disorder, you may find that this can trigger you. Please be mindful before reading.*
A lot can be said about eating disorders. There are scary classifications such as Anorexia and Bulimia, there are the meetings, retreats and clinics. Then there are the terrible outcomes and of course, there will always be our success stories. But there is a lot of in between that goes uncategorized and unhealed.
This is the story of a girl who ate sugar cubes instead of feeding them to the horses, a girl who always has the entire basket of bread before her meal comes, a girl who leaves no crumb left behind. This is also the story of a girl who had a vitamin with orange juice for breakfast and half of a muffin with water for lunch for a whole school year. A girl who plays a game of how long she can go without eating each day at work. A girl who won’t eat unless someone else is hungry too. How would you classify this girl on the spectrum of eating disorders?
How many people are like me?
I’m not saying I starve myself. I would never classify it as a disease or say that it takes over my life so much so that I am in danger of functioning. I eat; I eat on a daily basis. When I am eating, I don’t binge only on junk food and I don’t throw up after each meal. I make a list, in my head, of what I eat in a day and it sounds like enough. I eat enough; but then I regret it.
I regret having that third pancake. I regret ordering my meal with fries instead with salad. I regret stopping for a shake on the way home. There is so much regret that I cry and I clench my fists so hard my nails leave marks in my palms. I tell myself I will get better tomorrow. But I don’t mean “get better” in the sense that I will stop harassing myself for what dietary things I consume; I mean “get better” in the sense that I will get better at stopping myself from consuming those things.
If you know me, you know I’m always on the go. I am a writer for multiple platforms but I also have a full-time job that requires me to stand for hours at a time, go up and down stairs, and exude energy in the form of fake happiness. When I’m not writing or working, I am running.
As a semi-competitive distance runner, it’s important that I eat well. I balance my carbs with my greens with my proteins. I use my sport and how long I spend training for the day to dictate what I’m allowed to eat. I tend to replace protein shakes with meals or I will workout and shower immediately after a run as a trick to prolong the need to feed myself. Part of me knows this is wrong, but
I can’t help myself.
When it is time to relax, I still have reservations about meals. Unless those I am with want to eat, I will wait to eat. I could have worked an 8 hour day, ran 6 miles, and it could now be 9 at night while I furiously type articles. But if you’re sitting next to and you aren’t hungry, I am not hungry.
I have never seen my own case serious enough to warrant a major freak out or to need further attention. But I see myself in other people who I know and in the stories I read. There are people who start where I am now and only fall further down the rabbit hole. What are we, as a society, doing for those people? For people like me. People who are forever stopping themselves from reaching for more and are watching the clock to make sure they beat their own record for time gone without eating. How do we help the cases of eating disorders that happen to people without a good support system or without a subconscious voice strong enough to save themselves?
Featured image via Cairo Dwek.