A person who is an alcoholic, or a drug addict, can stay sober for 30 years, but that doesn’t mean they’re cured. They can’t just casually have a drink with everyone else, they can relapse at any moment in time, even though they’re sober and have been for a long time. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it illustrates the point.
Easter is coming up. Not yet, but soon. We do shopping once a week, and I was told to pick out which Easter Egg I want, it’ll be here tomorrow along with food for the next week. I have a hard time believing I’ll be able to leave it until Easter… Maybe that’s not a big deal to some, some people probably get a lot of eggs while they’re in shops and eats them like other sweets. But when I was young, we had a week off school, starting Friday before Good Friday, lasting through Easter Monday, and my brother and I wouldn’t usually get our Easter Eggs until the following weekend, because that’s when it really is Easter, not just Easter holiday from school. So I was brought up to enjoy my Easter egg during actual Easter, and I only got a small/medium sized one too.
You might think I’m overthinking this. That’s it’s not a big deal if I eat my egg before Easter, or that I can just leave it until Easter to eat it. I wish it were that simple.
I have super self-control when walking through a shop looking at all the good things. I have no issues walking down the candy aisle and smell all the chocolate in the air, I can just walk through and buy my things and leave, no biggie. But the moment I buy something, I have a really hard time not eating it once I get home. I’m just not wired to have a “snack drawer” or shelf or cupboard or whatever. It was fine when I was a child and my parents were in charge of handing out sweets to us (Saturday nights with TV, birthdays, Christmas, and Easter). But when I was, maybe around 10, my Mum started working away from home, that’s when the problems started.
I was fully aware of where to find cookies, sweets, and the chocolate spreads. And I was struggling in school, not with the material but with the social aspect. I’d come home and make myself two slices of bread with chocolate spread, a glass of chocolate milk, and a few pieces of chocolate, and watch 7th Heaven on TV while home alone. I was comfort eating. It made me feel better. This went on for several years.
The summer before I turned 15, I stopped eating meat. That’s a story for another time, if I haven’t already talked about it before, I actually don’t remember. My grandmother made a comment that I was gonna become skinny because of it. The same grandmother had earlier made comments on me being on the bigger side and asked whether I was the only one in my year in school who was. It stayed in my head. I’d already started working out a couple of years earlier, because my MP3 player broke, and my dad said he’d buy me a new one if I kept up my grades for summer term and started to exercise (he got me the 2nd generation iPod Nano, 2GB, which was a lot back then!). At some point, I started to notice the weight loss, and it drove me to keep going. I ate less and less. I exercised more and more. At the worst, I was down to one tiny bowl of cereal for breakfast, and a small portion of dinner that I couldn’t always finish, and I had dance class on Monday, PE on Tuesday and Thursday, aerobics on Wednesday, and I’d go running and biking on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I did strength exercises too, every evening before bed, which was what I’d started doing back when I wanted my MP3 player replaced (I still remember the first time: 10 push-ups, and 10 crunches, and I was aching a lot the next day. By the end I had a full hour’s worth of different exercises for my core, legs, and arms). I wasn’t healthy. I had headaches every day. I drank only water, and juice with dinner when the others had soda. I never ate sweets or crisps.
But here’s the thing. I never looked like someone with eating disorders. There weren’t any teachers or classmates who were worried about me. One teacher made a remark once, he’d seen me out running after school, said something about me being into jogging, when I rejected a Twist (which are like Celebrations) he offered me once (nothing creepy, I had to stop by school for a signature on something I’d forgotten, and he was in the teacher’s room). I never saw a doctor, I was never hospitalised or treated in any way. My parents knew something wasn’t right, I think, but we’ve never actually talked about it. Once when I’d been out jogging around mid-day on a weekend, and came home, I told my mum I wanted to go for a bike ride and she said absolutely not. And for several years after I got better, whenever I’d talk to my dad on the phone (when I’d just started uni), he’d ask me what I’ve eaten today. At this point, I was able to tell him the truth. A few years earlier (my first year of high school/upper secondary), I’d make up something about using my pocket money to buy something from the school cafeteria. That happened maybe twice during the year (other than ice coffee before science tests, which became a sort of ritual for me and a friend). So my parents were worried. But no one else had any reason to be. One girl made a comment on me becoming fit when high school started, but we were 15-16, a lot of people’s bodies changed over summer, she asked if I’d been working out and I said yes, but asked nothing further. I didn’t look like someone with eating disorders. But I had them. First one way, then the other.
eating disordernounplural noun: eating disorders
- any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits
I’m well now. Mostly. I’ve been mostly well for several years. I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, most days. Sometimes I skip lunch, if I have a late breakfast and don’t want to have a late dinner. I don’t like eating late at night. I don’t like snacking, much. I try to eat mostly healthy. I still haven’t eaten meat since I stopped in the summer of 2007. The thing is, I know how easy it would be for me to relapse. With being unemployed, and away from my family and friends, with being located to mainly just one room in a small house, my mental health isn’t always doing so good. And a lot of the time I want to eat things I know I shouldn’t. Like yesterday, we had takeout pizza. We’re having Easter eggs being delivered tomorrow. And I’ve been craving sweets for hours, mainly due to talking about them with someone on twitter (really lovely conversation though!). I am able to not eat anything because I don’t have anything. I don’t even have cereal. But food is being delivered tomorrow, and I might go make tea in a bit, my hands are quite cold and I have a sleepy time tea. Sleep is another tool I use to control cravings and overeating; in writing moment it’s nearly 10pm and like I said earlier, I don’t like eating late, so I will have some water and/or some tea, and go to sleep, and breakfast will taste all the much better in the morning.
So you see which way I’m leaning at the moment. I want all the things I know I shouldn’t have. But then some days, I don’t want anything. Or I’ll be really healthy, those are the best days. But sometimes I feel like not eating anything at all, especially following a time of me eating things I know I shouldn’t. And I know I need to eat, and I do, and I have people around me who care about me and want me to stay healthy and well, who make sure I do, or at least that I don’t skip meals multiple days in a row, that’s really the danger I am in sometimes.
I’ve been mainly well for about 9 years now. Or at least 7, maybe 8. I started to get better around 9 years ago, but that too was a process that took some time. It took me more than 2 years to get back into eating lunch on a regular basis. And it’s always a process, it’s always going to be a process, it’s never going to end, I don’t think. And that’s really the point I wanted to get across here. I may never have been in any physical danger, or maybe I would have been if things hadn’t happened to change the course I was on, I don’t know. But I was never hospitalised or in danger of dying, and I never developed diabetes due to how I was living and eating. But even though I’m, for the most part, stable, for now, that doesn’t mean I couldn’t still spin one way or the other, it doesn’t mean I won’t relapse into comfort-eating or not eating at all. Every day, I work at making sure it doesn’t happen, by eating my meals, and getting the nutrients my body needs, but there are times when I feel bad and I eat a whole pack of Jaffa cakes, and there are days when I feel so bad about my weight or the shape of my body that I want to go on a water diet for a week, there’s no denying that. But for now, I’m fine, for the most part. Let’s hope this stupid Easter egg (that I cannot wait to eat, I got a Cadbury mini eggs one!!) doesn’t ruin any of that…
If you’ve made it this far, this is the end! Thank you so much for reading, I know this was a long piece; this is something that’s really personal to me, and that I haven’t really opened up about in the past. Please feel free to talk to me in the comments – but if you’re gonna be nasty, I’ll just delete you, so let’s keep it civil okay 🙂