I have an eating disorder. It isn’t anorexia or bulimia, and I’m not entirely sure where it falls into the scale of things. My eating disorder is the fact that I will skip meals because I’m “not hungry”. In the past I could go three or four days without eating. No one seemed to notice, so I kept doing it. When I started getting counseling as an adult, my eating disorder was brought up and I was given some ideas on how to deal with it. It was suggested I start setting a schedule in which I made food and ate it. I tried to do it, but it got to the point where I dreaded even seeing the clock.
My husband has been a huge influence in keeping me eating. Sometimes he gets distracted and doesn’t notice I’ve started skipping meals again. But when he does, he pushes for me to eat something. He doesn’t get nasty about it. He just encourages me – although sometimes his “encouragement” is him ordering me to eat, which I do while grumbling about “not being hungry”.
I’ve trained my body over the 20+ years I’ve been dealing with this to not recognize when I need food. Even now, when I feel hungry, my body isn’t sure what that signal means. In the past, when I did acknowledge I needed food, my go to was always junk food instead of something healthy. Now I work on healthy alternatives because I feed a house of five people and cook as fresh as I can, given our budget constraints. As soon as the farm starts producing vegetables, it’s going to get a whole lot easier. Don’t get me wrong, I still snack on junk food if I can get it, but it’s usually a few pieces of chocolate or a hard caramel. I’ve cut way back on soda, which is another “comfort food” for me when I’m dealing with depression.
I’m seriously overweight, so people look at me and tell me that I can’t possibly have an eating disorder. Those with eating disorders are “unnaturally skinny”. Um, no. If you read up on eating disorders as I have, you know that there are some atypical eating disorders to where you don’t show the kind of weight loss you see with anorexia and bulimia. I also have trouble losing weight. It’s partly my own fault for not being more active. My problem is if I overdo it – and my body can change what overdoing it means whenever it feels like it – my sciatica kicks in and I’m forced to move minimally if I don’t want to cry from the pain.
The point of my ramblings is that if you even think someone has an eating disorder, whether it’s yourself or a friend, talk to someone. Let them know what you’re seeing/feeling. Sometimes, if it’s a friend, they don’t want to admit they have a problem. In their minds they have a valid reason for doing what they are. I know I do. I’m overweight so somewhere in my psyche I equate not eating with getting thin. I don’t use the usual methods that someone with anorexia or bulimia may use, but it’s still a problem. Without my husband, I’d probably still be starving myself regularly. His support is what gets me through my bad days, and the knowledge that he loves me no matter what I look like is a boost to my mood.
Eating disorders can affect either gender, though only an estimated 15% of the male population will find themselves with one. Part of the problem is society’s skewed perception of beauty. More and more girls are turning to extreme measures so they can look like those models that are in the public eye. The media’s idea of beauty isn’t healthy. Everyone has different body types so what works for one won’t work for another. But because we focus so much on white women with narrow waists and small busts, we send our children a very negative view of the world. More teenagers have eating disorders because they’re trying to fit into what they think society expects of them.
I’ve been fighting my depression for years now. My self-esteem has never been very high. But I’m beginning to love myself more now as I continue to get treatment. Yes, I’m still overweight. But I can do something about it. I don’t have to relegate myself to being fat for the rest of my life. Or if I choose to, I can stay the way I am. It doesn’t matter what society thinks. All that matters is how I feel about myself. Having affirmation that I’m still beautiful no matter what from my husband has gone a long way in improving my view of my self-image.
If you have negative people in your life who think they are “helping” by giving you crap about your appearance, ignore them or get them out of your life. You don’t need their form of assistance. If it is someone you can’t ignore or cut ties with, try to explain how you feel to them. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes just expressing yourself in a reasonable matter will make people think twice about what they’re saying.