This is my safe space, where I do whatever the fuck I want. Sometimes, I write eloquently and in full sentences, and sometimes my writing becomes a pure stream of consciousness, which can be identified by the increased use of swear words and italics. Because this is my space where I do whatever the fuck I want, today I’m choosing to map my disorder for you. It bothers me to have bits and pieces of the story spread around the place, so I’m choosing to collate it here. Rest assured, the rambling poetics guarantee the story will continue to be spread here, there, and everywhere, but this makes me feel good for now.
When I was eleven, I developed anorexia. It started with the sit ups, the push ups. Eliminating carbs, fat, sugar. Exercising, and then not eating again until I was hungry and exhausted. Fasting to be extra sure I was still able to feel hungry. I stopped drinking tea between meals. I stopped eating between meals. I started checking labels, counting calories, and spreading a lot of lies. I weighed myself every day, multiple times a day, and this ritual dictated my mood. If the number had gone down, I was ecstatic, and continued to follow my highly ritualised daily routine. If it had stayed the same, I was disappointed, and disheartened, but not wrecked, and vowed to do better, be hungrier, eat less. If it had gone up, I was extremely distressed. I would not eat. I would exercise to the point of exhaustion, a point further away than usual.
And all of that meant I lost a lot of weight, very quickly.
I noticed a voice appear. I called her Ana. She berated me when I was bad, and congratulated me when I was good. She kept me stuck. She felt entirely separate to me, even though I knew it was really me, it was just the disordered part of me.
The proudest moment I can remember from my childhood is watching my hip bones creep to the edge of my shorts. The same shorts growing baggy, and eventually falling off, no matter how tight I tied them. My eating disorder gave me a sense of purpose, achievement and fulfilment while around me it seemed that I was constantly invalidated and ignored, a feeling which was only compounded when I was severely bullied during school, conveniently prolonging the severity of my anorexia. I was never quite good enough. Never worthy. Never smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, kind enough, or perfect enough.
Here are a few stats to make things a little clearer:
- SW: 40-ish kg, BMI ? Pre-high school.
- LW: 33.8 kg, BMI 14. 2013-2014. This is when I was at my sickest.
- HW: 66.5 kg, BMI 27. Late 2017
- CW: 60.5 kg, BMI 24. Early 2018
- BW: 46.0 kg, BMI 18. Late 2015-2016. I’m electing to call this my “best weight” because I was really happy with my body at this point. I was doing a lot of strength training and yoga, my muscles had returned, and in all honesty, I had the chest and abs of a boy. But I really liked it. I was also probably still a little underweight, which I’m going to ignore. How do I know this? My periods were still all over the place, I could still see bones, and the smallest clothes were sometimes still loose.
- GW: probably not something I should even be “aiming for” but as my body continues to readjust and finally has the opportunity to organise itself now that it’s no longer being hijacked by starvation syndrome, I expect I will lose a little more. That’s what happens when you eventually stop binge eating, and something I’m trying to convince my treatment team of, who remain concerned about the “downward weight trend” because I am still tackling my exercise addiction. I’m also following meal plan – mostly. The most I probably ever have.
Once I reached my lowest weight, I stayed there for nearly two years. I stayed there until I looked up from the scales, and into the mirror, and was terrified by what I saw. I stayed there until I had a friend murmur to me that I looked like I was dying, until I finally listened to the concern of those constantly asking why I looked so pale, so sickly, so gaunt, on the verge of fainting or collapse or death. I started to hate the bones. I started to hate the yellow skin, the lunago, the constant cold and exhaustion. I hated that I physically couldn’t run because my body consumed my muscles for energy. I hated that I had practically stopped socialising altogether since my disorder began, because any interruptions to my strict regime were banned. I was threatened with hospital, and I hated the burden I would become to my family if I was admitted to the nearest facility 500 kilometres away.
I started to hate Ana. But it took me a long time to start fighting her.
Once my weight was just restored, just within the healthy range for my height and age, I thought I had recovered completely. I thought that’s how it worked. I was sixteen.
Then 2017 began, I moved out of home, and things got really fucked up. I was binging every day. I could no longer starve myself. My body had been underweight for so long, it was now clinging to every calorie I provided it with. It was never satisfied. And there was no perceived control anymore. I was actually, really, truly out of control. At eighteen, my perception of self and preoccupation with food was worse than ever. It was just masked by a weight that didn’t make me appear sick, and shameful secrecy that allowed me to maintain a facade of normalcy, until my sleeve slipped and showed scars, or I refused to eat around friends yet again, fasted for another day, skipped another meal.
I started and completed my first eating disorder specific treatment in late 2017 / early 2018. My weight has finally stabilised, although at a slightly higher number than I – and my disorder – approve of. I’m still struggling. But I’m learning to fight back. Slowly, finally, I’m struggling a little less.