Monday, 26 January 2015

This Shadow Life - Eating Disorders as Self Harm

I recently read a very interesting, through provoking, and emotional post by Katie Arbre of Our Wolf Song (a fantastic blog that you can check out here). In the post Katie very bravely talked about her eating disorder and though our disorders are quite different, I found that we had a few important things in common.

I don't like eating. I don't like eating in public. I worry about what I am going to eat when I go out for dinner with friends or whatever. I often lie and say that I have already eaten just so that I can avoid the situation all together. I actually kind of despise food. I have done so since year 5 (about 10 years old) when an older girl at school made fun of my weight and the unhealthy food that I happened to be having for lunch that day. On a side note, that girl has gained a pretty significant amount of weight in the decade or so since, which leads me to believe that at the time she probably had her own insecurities that caused her to lash out at me. But anyway. I digress. It made me hate food, feel really bad about myself, and feel really self concious about eating. This resulted in me developing some weird food habits like not wanting anyone to see me eat, ever. Not wanting to take bites out of food (to this day I either eat off a fork or pull things apart with my hands first and put the little pieces into my mouth). Hoarding unhealthy foods and sneaking off to binge eat. Plus I hate the sound of people chewing.

Then my trauma happened (totally unrelated to my food disorders) and my self hatred increased exponentially. I despised myself. Enough to cut and burn and tattoo my skin.
At the same time, my weird food habits developed into me swinging between pretty severe anorexia and bulimia.
I have always just thought of my eating disorders as relating to wanting to be thin and not getting picked on or stared at, and I always just thought the hate and anger that they made me feel was because of my weight and the fact that I had succumb to an eating disorder in the first place.

Then for some reason the post of Katie's made me think about my disorders in a different way and I realised that for me, my eating disorders are a form of self harm. Sure I want to be thin, and sure I hate that I let my food habits get that far, but more than that it is punishment. It is self loathing. It is anger and hatred not at the disorders or the girl that first pushed me in their direction, but anger and hatred towards myself.

My name is Sasha and I self harm by cutting, burning, tattooing, starving, binging, and purging. 

This might not seem like a big revelation to a lot of people, but to me it is huge. I never thought of it like that and now that I have, it's totally changed the way that I will deal with it.

I used to try and deal with it by forcing myself into a strict regime of eating a relatively normal amount of healthy foods. I got an app on my phone that told me how many calories I should eat in a day and I tried my best to stick to it.
Now I have begun researching scientific papers on how I can deal with my eating disorder as a form of self harm. It's already proving to be super helpful.

I would like to encourage anyone else with an eating disorder to go on a little self discovery journey like I did (only if you are in a mental position where that would be safe of course). Try to think about how your disorder started, if there are times when you are more or less inclined to starve or purge, if there was a point where things escalated for you like they did for me, and most importantly, think about the feelings that go with all of these ideas. I know that's the super cliché doctor line of "How does that make you feel?" but for me it was examining my feelings that made me realise what I was really dealing with and how I can help myself get better.

Things are looking up. :]

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