I’m struggling with my eating disorder right now. I’m not struggling with weight loss, or with severe restriction, or with calorie counting, or excessive exercise – I’m not struggling with anorexia anymore. I’m struggling to comprehend that I wish I was struggling more. I wish I was still underweight, and dying. I wish I was still anorexic.
When I wake up, the first thing I do is look in the mirror. I body check. I pinch my thighs, my butt, my arms. I measure my wrists. Have I gained weight today? Can’t tell? Then better restrict just to be safe. Just to be sure. This is the same morning routine I have had since I first established it, when I was eleven. Except this time, the fat isn’t in my mind. The fat is visceral, it is real. And that intense preoccupation with shape and weight isn’t so unwarranted anymore – because society abhors fat people, and I am fat now. I have never been fat before.
I have also never been good at acceptance. I can’t accept that the reason I gained weight in the first fucking place is because after six years of starvation mode my body decided to cling to every calorie and gram of fat it could grapple out of my bloodstream, and when you binge on peanut butter, which is essentially pure fat, you gain a lot of weight.
I need to buy scales. Because scales will motivate me to lose weight, and Ana says that losing weight is the only way I’ll ever be successful, or fulfilled, or loved. I am nothing if I am not thin.
The worst part is – I worked so hard to claw my way out of anorexia. Alone. Without medical assistance. Without dietary assistance. Without my family knowing. With very few friends knowing. Challenging fear foods alone. Gaining weight alone. Going through body changes alone. Getting my periods back, hitting the “normal weight” threshold, seeing bones fade behind fat, cycling through piles and piles of clothes as my weight normalised – all alone.
And now, as I sit here, having told myself I will not eat breakfast, immediately before binging, immediately before the waves of guilt and shame and plans to restrict – I am alone in this. I am alone in the way my body has gone from emaciated to overweight, alone in the bulimia I suffer from, and the stigma that carries with it, especially because I don’t purge. There’s more than one way to have bulimia, just as there’s more than one way to have an eating disorder, but apparently that’s a little difficult for most people to grasp.
I can remember what it felt like to be thin. I can remember where the bones were, where clothes hung loose and useless.
I can remember being constantly hypothermic, even in spring, and I can remember the pale skin, gaunt face, dark circles, and collapsing from exhaustion every day.
I can remember Ana – screeching. Berating. Deprecating. Screaming and screaming and screaming. I can remember how awful it was. How awful it still is. How awful she is.
But I still want it. I need it. I need anorexia. Anorexia kept me safe. Anorexia kept me alive, even as it was killing me. It gave me a purpose, a sense of self, a reason to exist, even if that reason got smaller and smaller everyday.
I have no reasons anymore. Bulimia has no reasons. Why would I want to stay alive in a cesspool of shame and disgust and guilt and compensatory behaviours and destroying my body through cycles of binging and restricting and exercise and laxative abuse? I have no reasons to do this. I have no reasons to stay alive.
I should have let anorexia kill me.