Tag Archives: Anorexia

Dying To Be Thin

4 Apr

Why I Sometimes Heed Eating Disorder Trigger Warnings

14 Oct

As a privileged young white woman in America I naturally have a number of friends who have had some sort of struggle with an eating disorder. In fact I recently started seeing a shrink and one of the first sort of funny moments we had together was during my first session. She cautiously asked me about my relationship with food and I told her that I eat it, I love to eat it and I feel no guilt whatsoever about eating it, and then I pulled out the wrapper from the chocolate croissant I had eaten on my way over there.

Compared to pretty much all of my peers my relationship with food is pretty insanely good (if only I could cook it).

And I know exactly how lucky that makes me. And I have a lot of people to thank for it because I know it is the result of some pretty conscious hard work from some people who love me (and food).

And as someone who benefitted from those people I feel like it’s my duty to pay it forward, and help other people not be afraid of food too. Because I wouldn’t be here without the people who took it upon themselves to make sure I saw them eating whole gallons of Cherry Garcia ice cream.

It’s important to talk about it, to think about how I got where I am and to hear from friends who have been less fortunate about their experiences, the potholes they fell in along the way and the triggers in pages of magazines and on red carpet shows.

A common thread I often found when talking to my friends about their ED’s was that they felt ashamed of not just their bodies being seen but also of all those negative thoughts about their bodies. And so it was harmful for me to shut down their negative self-talk without hearing it out first. It taught me that even when your thinking is disordered, the answer isn’t just replacing the words with healthier more accepting ones but sussing out why the negative words feel like the ones with greater fit.

Which leads to the question: If I feel so passionate about this then why do I sometimes have to not read them?

It’s not because I’m afraid of being triggered into skipping dinner. If I don’t eat dinner we’re going to have bigger problems.

It’s not because I don’t care about the fact that my friends are having a rough day and need to get the negative words out of their mouths so they’re not bouncing around their heads.

It isn’t even because I’m bored of the topic from spending every day watching it unfold, penetrating my friends, my family, noticing the tones in the voices of shopgirls as they try to sell me anti-cellulite lotions.

But every once in a while as I pass a friend bemoaning and apologizing that she can’t just be better, that everything is just so hard and so much, I get scared. Not that I’ll stop eating, but that some days everything is too hard and too much, and if I were to take that as an answer I’d be the biggest disappointment I could ever imagine being, to myself and to my family, to all the people who have leaned on me for that same support.

And so out of self-preservation (something else my shrink says I sometimes do too little of) I just press the skip button and continue on my merry way.

On the days where it’s all too much I cry for myself and for my losses, I cry for the friends who can’t just snap their fingers and eat pie guilt free, I cry for the friends stuck in jobs and cities and relationships and families where they aren’t happy or loved and I cry for the people in harms way, sick, injured or scared. On the days I cry I spend the entire day doing it. It’s exhausting and time consuming and god forbid it happens in the morning I better hope I have nothing else to do that day unless I schedule in a nap.

Everyone has days that are dark, obscure, and terrible. And you should live those days to their darkest, obscurest, and terrible-est. And then tomorrow enjoy the kittens.

Skip A Meal With Us Today

4 Dec

Today I got an email titled ‘Skip a meal with us today.’

It was about a hunger protest to raise awareness about world hunger but the title stuck with me.

It made me think of my wonderful friend’s blog

Being around my parents is putting up with emotional death by a thousand cuts. I’m up at 3am stewing on all the ways I hurt myself for the sake of giving my parents a pleasant weekend…

and everything out of [my mother’s] mouth is about how she’s fat, and she’s going to stop eating tomorrow, and she wishes she had my discipline, to just stop eating. And I’ve told her before that it is very triggering and painful for me to hear her talk about food and bodies that way but she got upset and was like, “I don’t mind when you talk about it,” but like Jesus mom does it not alarm you when I talk about eating 400 calories a day?


And this writer for XOJane (my latest obsession) who is in her fourth year of actively trying not to make herself puke every day.

I bet you thought this food stuff would be fixed by now! Me, too, man. It takes up so much time…  But of the like 80 million things I’ve learned about recovery, one of them is that actual behavioral change is a) exceedingly rare and b) incredibly slow. At least that’s the line my therapist sells me when I start complaining about how it’s been almost FOUR YEARS since I last took a drink or snorted a line, and yet I’m still fucked up when it comes to sex, finances, food and probably a bunch of other stuff I’m not even recovered enough to be aware of yet…

My freshman year at college a teacher brought in a recovering anorexic to talk to us about how to not fall into anorexia in a competitive environment.  What stuck with me from that conversation is how she compared anorexia with her drinking problem.

What I learned that day was that anorexia is in many ways just as much of an addiction as alcoholism is.  That it’s not a condition of the body (a failing liver is as much of a long term effect of alcoholism as heart disease is a complication of anorexia) but a mental problem that will shape the rest of your life.

What this actress said was that she could go the rest of her life without walking into a liquor store but she couldn’t go the rest of her life without going into a grocery store.  Just like she’ll have to make a choice every time a first date asks her out for drinks or a waitress asks her if she’s fine with water, she’ll have to make an equally difficult choice every time she feels that familiar pain of hunger.

When she’s been 10 years sober she’ll still have to think “I want a beer but I know that seltzer is the right choice” and even when her body is at it’s healthiest weight she’ll still have that niggling voice in the back of her head saying she should skip dinner tonight.

Her weight has nothing to do with that voice.  That voice is the pathogen that has worked it’s way into her head and no matter what she eats or looks like she will never be completely rid of it.

And your offhand remarks about muffin top are like challenging a sober alcoholic to a chugging contest.  A title like ‘Skip a meal with us today’ can be triggering to someone looking for an excuse not to eat.  Skipping a meal doesn’t make you anorexic because anorexia isn’t about what you weigh or how you eat, it’s about how you think.

Be careful out there.