it’s not a diet.
it isn’t about being ‘thin’ to fit into society’s standards, it isn’t about fashion models or magazine pages, it isn’t about wanting to look pretty or fitting in.
sometimes, it feels like life support. it’s what gets me through the next day, the only thing that keeps me going. it’s the exhilaration of seeing the numbers, the comfort of having a goal when i feel so lost. it’s getting used to hunger pangs and secrets and working out no matter how exhausted i am, it’s the pride and validation when someone asks if you’ve lost weight. it’s spending hours in the supermarket looking at nutrition labels or sitting in class counting calories the entire time or constantly looking at cooking videos because i can’t think about anything but food. it’s the comfort of having my 60g of cottage cheese (59 cals) and granola bar (90 cals) in the morning, or maybe 2 egg whites (36 cals) with soft grain toast (60 cals) and light cheese (25 cals), and being able to recite these numbers ingrained in my head. it’s what i cling on to when everything gets messy again, it’s safety.
sometimes, it’s being able to go a while eating normally enough. until I look closely in the mirror or step on the scale again, and what I see makes me want to die. it’s periods of circumstances being incidentally better, times where the disorder takes a backseat so i’m doing ‘better‘ but I’ve never really tried to get better (or even wanted to) so does it really count? it’s an inner turmoil and self hatred that never really goes away. it’s periods of ‘i’m okay right now and i can eat for a while without guilt but i’ll maybe purge it and go back to eating 400 calories a day‘, it’s the sheer inability to eat anything ‘normal and uncontrolled’ without plans for future compensation, the inability to tolerate a full stomach without running straight to the bathroom. But it’s also the ability to hide it all very well (especially when your weight stays in the same 4-5kg range)
sometimes, it’s shame. it’s guilt and so much shame you can’t even imagine. it’s your body/brain rebelling and binging after days of starvation and deprivation, those moments of i don’t care followed by a night of agony and guilt and relentless self-hatred. it’s binging and purging not because you want to, but because it’s the fastest way to numb the feelings and pain and thorny thoughts, because you can’t stop and you don’t even know why. it’s nights hunched over the toilet bowl, hating yourself. nothing matters more than getting the food out, not the fear of already destroyed teeth or the puffy eyes and dehydrated skin, or even the chest pains that come after. it’s days of almost passing out from dehydration and laxative cramps (and eating disorders are ‘glamorous’, they say). it’s not just purging calories but also purging pain and badness and shitty feelings. it’s lying to everyone you love and secrets and hiding everything.
it’s the overwhelming, crushing fear of weight gain and the consequences it will bring. (everything will fall apart and I might die from self-hatred) it’s the fear of being out of control.
There have been days where I’m too scared to eat anything and its really bad, and I feel really anxious. But other days I eat normally and the guilt isn’t there and although in my head its like a war zone I can still just about make myself eat a normal diet so if I can do that it surely means I’m not sick enough to have a real ED. You can look in the mirror and realize that your body is in fact not wasting away, eat a few standard meals, and questioning yourself becomes all too easy.
it’s not a diet.
it’s not even about food. it’s always been self destruction stemming from a deep self-hatred, from inadequacy. it’s not knowing what’s normal. it’s about ownership, about having control. it’s my disorder, my safe food, my safe rituals- it’s mine and nobody can change them (and nobody can hurt me). it’s about protection. it’s about not wanting to need anyone or anything. it’s secrets, and lies, and wanting to just be alone. it’s feeling more at home in your disordered ways than you ever have in your real house. it’s pain and numbness all at the same time.
it’s a million different things, it’s starving to be thin, starving because i hate myself and everything is too much, it’s binging and purging because i hate myself and everything is too much, it’s trying to just be normal and realizing i hate myself. it’s hating myself each time I eat, hating myself each time I don’t eat. it’s realizing I don’t know how to eat normally– one minute 30 calories is too much and the next I’m stuffing myself with everything around me.
it’s about being too fat, always too fat, never good enough.
it’s always there, sometimes a lingering thought, sometimes easy enough to ignore, sometimes a constant companion, sometimes a drill sergeant louder than anything else. it’s not being able to stop no matter what. eating healthy is eating too much. binging is eating too much. restricting is eating too much. Nobody cares either. Nobody cares unless you are deathly thin.
it’s an old, old friend, a comfort blanket, a lighthouse when it gets dark. it’s wandering through an endless labyrinth without an exit in sight, being stuck on a carousel I can’t seem to get off. it’s about worth, about all-the-things-I-don’t-deserve. it’s a confusing cycle of ‘sick’ and ‘not sick’, or just ‘never sick (good) enough‘. it’s about no longer knowing which my voice in my head is mine, it’s about not knowing what’s right or wrong, not understanding the tornado that goes on inside. it’s losing my grasp on reality because these rules are easier to follow.
I want to go to sleep and not wake up, but I don’t want to die. I want to eat like a normal person eats, but I need to see my bones or I will hate myself even more and I might cut my heart out or take every pill that was ever made.
it’s the fear and realization that it’s been years of this struggle, years of i’m still not sick enough to get help, years of if i get to this weight then i’ll be sick enough to recover, years of I don’t know how to want to help myself anymore. it’s fear and realization that I might never actually get better and I hate myself for it all. I hate myself for struggling, for not being sick enough and yet not being able to be normal. I hate myself for not wanting to recover despite the amazing support I get in therapy and from my friends, I hate that I can’t tell anyone about this, I hate that I’m letting everyone down. I hate that I can’t choose between the people I love and what I need- or what my disorder wants. I hate that every time I slip away from the disorder I get terrified and run right back.
And the most painful part? Even after all this struggle i go through, there’s always been a genuine belief that i’m not sick and i don’t deserve to be better. I never, ever, once truly believed I had an eating disorder, a real problem, and I don’t know how to recover from something I don’t believe I have. it’s an inability to stop even if I wanted to, it’s not knowing how to eat normally or even live normally, it’s resistance because who would i even be without this, it’s the voice inside that screams ‘you don’t deserve it‘ every time I think about recovery, it’s not wanting to let go of control because letting go means getting fat and i can’t get fat no matter what.
it’s being so very very lost. it’s pain, so much pain that nobody knows what to do with. it’s feeling like I’m drowning in sadness. it’s a struggle that nobody will ever know or understand. i can’t validate myself and nobody can validate me, and what if it’s all just in my mind? it’s hopelessness. it’s being stuck in something i never wanted but somehow needed, being stuck in an abusive relationship with your mind, being stuck in a web i don’t know how to get out of. i’m so tired.
it’s not a diet, it was never a diet.