Now feels like the right time for me to admit to the Internet what many already know or have deduced, which is my eating disorder.
While I talk fairly openly about it to some, I continue to protect it as a secret to many others, because acknowledging it was true is acknowledging the plethora of lies that I have told and stuck by for so long in attempts to conceal it. While I tend to preach Kantian ethics, I have profusely and deliberately lied about eating disorder related stuff. I am ashamed of that hypocracy. I’m also afraid of people knowing about it and paying too much attention to my weight and habits and worrying when they shouldn’t. I really don’t want that.
And yet, there’s so much I have to say about this topic, so much that I have wished I could say, and nothing could be as difficult to share as what I already have. So here it is.
I was insecure for a long time before my life was taken over by anorexia. I couldn’t really say when I crossed the thin line between insecurity and disordered eating. Was it when I weighed myself six times a day? Was it the first time I went 24 hours without eating? Was it when I went 72 hours without eating? Was it when my BMI dropped below 18.5? Was it after three consecutive missed periods? Was it after a year of missed periods? Four years? Was it when all I could do was think about food? Was it when I would storm away from social events if any of my friends dared eat less than me? Was it the first time I stuck my finger down my throat?
Was it the first ten pounds, when I had weight to lose?
Was it dormant all along, simply threatening me with self hate until it grabbed me by the gut and dragged me down 60 pounds and many friends? It’s hard to say exactly. But the facts I have are, the vomiting began during the three months I was being sexually abused and ended very shortly after, and a vast majority of my weight loss occurred after the onset of the first rape.
I have included pictures to show my weight before and after my abuse, though I do want to stress that eating disorders are a mental disorder where physical changes are a common symptom; however, physical changes take time no matter how intense your ED might be, and by the time the disease is physically apparent the changes in the brain of the sufferer have already happened. You don’t have to be skinny to be anorexic.
And though eating is the subject of the disorder, very rarely if ever is vanity at the core of the issue. If someone in your life seems to be struggling, attacking the symptoms will not comfort them. For me, controlling my weight and intake was a defense mechanism for my losing all control of my body otherwise as a result of my abuse. Though I know and knew that anyone who tried to call me out on it were worried and didn’t want me to suffer, to attack my eating disorder was to attack the one thing that made me feel safe in a world that had robbed me of a very basic human right to safety. If you’re worried about someone, tell them you’re worried, but don’t make it about their weight or food habits. Tell them you care. Tell them you love them. Tell them it’s hard for you to see them in pain. Ask them what’s really going on. They might not be able to tell you, they might not choose to tell you, but certainly making them feel judged for a disease that they can’t control but that gives them a false sense of control will not ever help. Give them your love, let them know you know there’s more going on than a vanity crisis.
That feels like enough for now. Just know that if you’re a person who had to deal with my terrible attitude and lying during my times of struggle that I am deeply sorry and extremely ashamed and probably very sad I pushed you away and that it means the world to me if you still care enough about me or what I’ve been saying that you’re reading this now. And if you’re someone who’s currently struggling with a similar issue of self punishment, I hope things get better for you soon, I wish I had not allowed myself to suffer as long as I did, but it is 100% possible to be free of this. I am.