*This article will discuss eating disorder behaviours that may be triggering. If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, visit BEAT or speak to a trained professional.*
Recently, someone said something about weight to me that I found to be very triggering. They were talking about some diet or another, and how intermittent fasting would help them to lose weight for summer.
I was surprised, as I knew this person was aware of my struggles with my eating disorder.
I told them that these kinds of comments made me feel uncomfortable. My mind was already working away at the information.
They apologised and said they thought I had already recovered from my eating disorder.
I didn’t know how to explain it to them in that moment. I could see how they thought this. They looked at me and saw the food I gleefully munch, the stomach that protrudes over my waistband, and the days I skip workouts. I suppose from the outside, it might look like I’ve recovered from my eating disorder.
I can eat pasta, something that wasn’t possible for years. And I do eat pasta, sometimes several times a week, because I’ve discovered it’s my favourite food.
But I’m always aware that I’m eating pasta. I feel uncomfortable at the fullness in my belly when I’ve put down my fork. I try to talk myself out of eating pasta again and push my mind towards vegetable-filled dishes.
I wear bigger jeans now than I ever did before. My body is soft in the ways it was once sharp. But I’m aware of this in every step I take. I start each day by body checking, examining my figure in the mirror and noticing the ways it fails society’s test. I cry in changing rooms and gaze at smaller people’s bodies in sick envy.
From the outside, I might look like I’ve recovered from my eating disorder. But on the inside, she remains a part of me, a chapter in my book that you need to read to understand the characters and story now.
I have recovered from my eating disorder, and I also haven’t. Because I don’t think I will ever fully recover from my eating disorder. She isn’t a cold that will fade away after enough days tucked in bed. She isn’t a pimple that will disappear when I finally stop touching it and use those new pimple patches I ordered.
She is the scar that remains after the bloody mess is cleared. She is the broken limb that healed, but not to what it was before. Whenever I take a step too fast on that ankle, or eat a bowl of pasta too greedily, I’ll feel that twinge of ache that reminds me of the break.
I will go about my days and live my life, thankful for the food that nourishes my body, but I will always be more aware of it than I should be. I will remember exactly how many calories are in the things I eat, even though I haven’t looked those numbers up in years. I will feel like I’ve failed if I don’t hit 10,000 steps in a day, even though I don’t force myself to earn my meals now.
When fullness settles on my swollen belly like a happy toddler, I will think, just for a second, about how I could remove all of that. I will remember the feeling that it used to bring, the rough scratch of my throat and the ecstasy that followed.
I will forever walk on the limb that was once broken. I will get to walk miles on it, and see the world in a way that once never seemed possible. But I will never lose that old hairline fracture, it would still be visible if you x-rayed my mind. I know what movements will cause it to flare up, and how to ease the pain when it does.
I will not recover from my eating disorder, but I will learn how to carry it and tuck it away. I will learn how to soothe that hungry child inside and to look upon my bigger frame with love and compassion.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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