My Old Friend Ana


I’ve been dabbling with my eating disorder lately. That might sound like a strange thing to say, but I think if you have ever been consumed by one then you’ll know what I mean. I’m not obsessing yet, but I am teasing, almost seeing what I am still capable of. And this will definitely sound like a strange thing to say if you don’t understand, but I really miss it.

I remember being as young as 7 when I started having disordered thoughts. Looking out the window at my neighbours playing and seeming so happy while I felt so sad, I wished I could be skinny like them because then surely, I’d be happy. When I was 10 I went to a new school and panicked because I realised I wouldn’t be able to lose enough weight in time, so I brushed my teeth constantly and aggressively, because I thought at least then people would like me because I had nice teeth. Slowly, I started cutting out snacks and tried to exercise more and was motivated massively when I shot up about half a foot in a year and didn’t have my puppy fat anymore. When I was 15 I got pregnant and the self-loathing lept to a new level, I stopped eating completely. It went from there. Years of whatever it took to shed that extra pound.

I never fully worked it out. Sometimes I think it was a way of always being a victim. If I was sick, then people couldn’t leave me. Someone would have to look after me. I would dream of being in hospital where, even if no one came to visit me, I would have a team of doctors and nurses trying to help me. In reality, I probably just needed my dad to look after me. For a lot of people, it’s also a way of control, which makes sense too. There was so much change in my life, it was the one thing that no one else could decide for me. Although eating disorders are never truly about the way you look, I had terrible self-esteem and put that down to being a chubby kid. I was never great at anything, just pretty good at most things and I felt like I always needed a “thing”. I made not eating my thing, and even though nobody really knew the extent, I knew that I was great at it and I could be proud.

So why is it popping up now? I’ve worked on not wanting to be the victim. My therapist works with transactional analysis which involves looking at the ego states. I understand now, that I play the parent role (both negative and positive) so often that I really miss my child state and completely miss out the adult state in a lot of my relationships which means that I make myself the victim too often in order to feel loved and valued. I’ve worked on that so much. I let my mum be my mum and look after me more, I am silly with my friends and relate in a child to child aspect and I have matured my relationships by communicating in an adult to adult way. That game of being the victim still draws me in sometimes, but I see it and avoid it. In terms of the control side of things, I have my own place with my brother, a job that doesn’t involve political game playing anymore and am choosing to do what’s right for me more often than what I feel I should be doing. Yes, there have been a lot of big changes in my life lately, but ultimately, I am in control and I am making decisions that benefit me and make me happy in a real way. When it comes to my self-esteem, well, if I had told my teenage self that I would be almost double her weight and happier with myself than I’ve ever been then she never would’ve believed it. Writing is a big part of that, but I am also surrounding myself with people that encourage and support me, I am treating my body well and it’s repaying me in feeling strong and capable, and I’m in love with the work I do for my uni course.

I remember explaining to my ex that my eating disorder would always be a voice inside my head and he thought that it was a really depressing idea, that I had chosen to resign to living with it forever, but I still believe that’s true. It’s a part of me that I haven’t deciphered yet clearly, but it is a part of me. I do need to spend a lot of time thinking and talking about it to work it out. I find that hard because I feel like people don’t want to talk about it. I try to be open, but I know that I can come across flippant sometimes because I’m conditioned to try not to come across as an attention seeker (because after all, isn’t that what all people with eating disorders are?! Ridiculous idea. Thanks again society). Unfortunately, it’s also one of the deepest part of me, in the sense that it’s something I nurtured and tended to for so many years, that it won’t disappear after a few conversations. I think I have plastered over it. Maybe that’s why it’s coming back. I’ve dragged up and dealt with so many of my other issues but there are these two big, ugly monsters in my life that I have yet to explore fully because they are just too scary. The fact that I have an eating disorder is huge for me, it’s changed so much of my life. The other monster is a bit too scary too talk about a lot of the time. Another day. 

I love feeling hungry. It’s like I’ve trained my brain to be proud of that feeling but it is important that I look after myself while I work out these things through. If my body has no fuel, then my brain won’t be working at it’s optimum and this is some serious shit I need to figure out. I know I am stronger now and I can work these things out, but it does take a conscious effort. I’m already weeks-worth of hungry and not sure how to get back, but I know if I don’t stop poking the monster now then it will take hold and my life is too damn good to go back there. Anyone up for going for dinner?

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