Struggling with my Eating Disorder

Ever since I can remember I have not had a normal relationship to food. When I grew up, one of the biggest mistakes I could make was to help myself to food that was in the kitchen. I could have what I was given, but nothing more, and I believe I learned very soon that food could be dangerous and that food was something I needed to “earn”. My mother used food as a punishment, saying I didn’t deserve to eat what she bought if she was upset with me. (She called it buying, but it was food stamp food.) My stepfather used food as a reward, bringing home things like chocolate bars, candy or other treats for me, and often they would be the prelude or sequel to sexual abuse.

It took me a while to link my current eating habits (lol, well, struggles) to my childhood experiences, but once my therapist F brought it up, and I spoke about it with mom, I think those experiences probably left quite a deep mark on me. One of those trauma related things that have been etched into my brain and are hard to get rid of. Maybe because those stuff was so relevant back then. I don’t know.

Anyway, I’m diagnosed with an EDNOS – an Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. For me it’s anorexic symptoms with occasional binge eating spells, but none of them have much to do with body image. I don’t usually care what I look like or about my weight. I’m not afraid of certain foods and I don’t monitor my caloric intake either. When I ate normally, I don’t feel bad about it either. It’s not the food itself that matters to me. I don’t care what it does inside of me once I’ve eaten it. It’s not about looks or weight or health.

But what I struggle with often is the eating itself. I think my eating disorder falls into a self-harm category. Especially if I feel bad about myself, I feel like I don’t deserve to eat. That I must starve myself as a punishment. I aim for the misery of feeling terribly hungry and the torture of looking at food, right in front of me, and not having any. And while one part of me, the part that is hungry, would like so much to eat, the part that’s in control of my mouth refuses. Even if I have the food in my mouth, like because someone persuaded or forced me to have a bite, I can’t swallow.

The opposite can also happen: that I feel like I want to eat anything I can find. I usually do it in secret, and once again I go for the punishment factor. Getting discovered and punished for taking everyone’s food (it doesn’t happen here, with my family, but my imagining the scenario fuels the behavior). Feeling disgusting for having eaten like a pig. Feeling full to the point of “pain-full”. But this kind of binging happens far less often than the restricted eating. Maybe once every three or four months. Unlike refusing food, which happens several times a week, or lasts several days at once.

When I feel okay I don’t have any such issues and can eat normally, like it’s no big deal.

At the moment I’m struggling with the restrictive eating and even when I know it’s really silly and that I CAN eat just fine, every meal is exhausting. My mom doesn’t usually put too much pressure on me if I can’t eat, but when I’m not eating for several meals in a row, she doesn’t just tolerate it. In a way I’m glad she doesn’t, but even so, many meals end in tears.

I wish I could just rewire my brain.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Laura
    Oct 29, 2012 @ 21:54:16

    For a long time I also thought “normal” existed. Now, I don’t…it’s just another expectation that adds pressure you don’t need. I used to be in a very similar situation as yours…don’t worry, you’re not alone!

  2. effortlesslyperfect
    Oct 30, 2012 @ 16:02:36

    I can definitely relate to so much of what you say here. Take care of yourself sweetie. You deserve to be healthy and happy. Praying that you will find that someday soon!

    • Lola
      Oct 30, 2012 @ 16:44:47

      Thank you for the good words! I try to take care of myself the best I can. You take care of yourself, too. 🙂

  3. vwoopvwoop
    Oct 31, 2012 @ 11:28:59

    i’m glad you shared about this. gosh i just see so much of my sister in you. we both had the flu this past week, and she has a real unhealthy emotional attachment to food. she felt like she needed to eat, even though her body was telling her it wasn’t hungry and she was nauseated by the virus. that made me so sad, to have to try and talk her down, and explain that her body didn’t actually need food right now, she would be okay, and to really take care of herself right then she needed to not eat a bunch of ice cream. *sigh* it was so hard to see her struggling with physical illness versus the deep compulsion that she has with food. she’s working hard to deal with the root of it all, but it seems so difficult. i’m sorry you suffer with EDNOS too.
    childhood can really screw people up.

    • Lola
      Oct 31, 2012 @ 16:32:49

      Oh, that must have been real tough for your sister, being sick with the flu and still feeling a compulsion to eat things despite being nauseous and all. 😦 EDNOS can really be bitchy. I’m sorry she’s dealing with it, too. Probably hard to watch as well. Gosh and yeah, childhood is really powerful with regard to screwing people up. Didn’t somebody say ‘childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome’? I kind of hope it’s not what I’ll spend the entire rest of my life doing, but that guy sure had a point!

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