Honesty time. I’ve had an eating disorder for about fifteen years now. Sometimes I do better with it, but it is the most consistently disordered behavior-related issue I’ve had in my life. And it’s gearing itself up to get worse.
I’ve struggled with binge eating and closet eating since I was nine or ten years old. When the closet eating happens, the binging gets worse. I lived by myself (or independently from my mother) for the past four and a half years, and during those years I saw a lot of the shame and anxiety that fueled my closet eating lessen. However, I have recently had to move back in with my mother and it’s already starting.
I would say that the majority of my feelings about food and its relationship to my body have some sort of connection to my mother, but it was never really this outright thing she said to me that caused this.
When I was a little kid, I was very skinny or average. I ran around a lot and did cheerleading and rode my bike all the time, and I was a healthy, average kid. But when my parents split up (for good; they had separated many times before that) I started eating more and gaining weight. I was still average for a kid my height and age, but I began to hide much of my eating.
I would sneak into the kitchen at midnight and get a snack. I would go in during the daytime and tell my mom I was getting a snack, then take two and hide one, showing her that I had only taken one, then go eat the second in my room. I did this constantly, and it was terrible.
I became terrified of the way people could see me if I was eating, so in school, if my friends weren’t at lunch, I would just not eat. I COULD NOT eat alone in public. And during my last two years of high school, I began sleep eating as well, which was ultimately out of my control but did not help with my body image or weight. By this time I was pretty overweight.
When I was a freshman in college, I realized that there were going to be times when none of my friends could eat with me but that I had to eat, and I did manage to force myself to eat alone in public occasionally. And since I wasn’t living at home, I didn’t have to hide how much I was eating. I gained a lot more weight during my freshman year of college.
Then I moved back home for my sophomore and junior years of college, and the closet eating came back hard. My senior year I lived in an apartment with two other people and I found myself still trying to hide a lot of the food I ate. The next year, though, I managed to force myself in the other direction, though, and began undereating daily in order to lose weight. I lost 25 pounds in maybe six months by essentially eating half the calories my body needed at its REST each day, so I wasn’t nourishing my body the way it needed.
I went to seminary and ate as much as I wanted, and gained back all that weight I had lost and then some, driving me to feel more negatively because I had convinced myself that the way I lost weight was me “working hard” and I was so frustrated at myself for gaining it back.
And now, I live with my mother again. It’s a new thing, but the old behaviors kick in so quickly. I am already hiding and sneaking and it’s really hard because I live in the living room because there’s no bedroom for me. And I don’t want it to be like this.
I guess my point is that eating disorders are hard and pervasive and persistent and very damaging. I want to lose all this weight I gained but I’m pretty sure if I do, I’m going to use the undereating method and that’s not right at all. I’m just all messed up right now and it’s unpleasant.