Being inside the head of someone with an eating disorder is scary, it’s a constant war of voices, swirling emotions and a near permanent state of confusion. You feel like you’re at a loss, not sure where to go, what to do, what to eat, should you eat? Do you actually need to eat? Are you hungry or is this just another of Ed’s tricks?
If you haven’t experienced it you probably can’t even begin to imagine the torment (and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone). Quite possibly one of the worst things you could be addicted to is food. We need it to survive, we can’t just go cold turkey, cut it out completely, lock ourselves away while we flush it from our system…we’d die. It doesn’t make it any easier when people look at you like you’re full of crap if you dare to bring it up. Most people don’t believe that it’s a real thing and when you think about, it does seem a little ridiculous. How can anyone be addicted to food?!
It’s a vicious cycle really, depression and anxiety can cause food addiction but food addiction can cause depression and anxiety so for many which caused which is a bit of a chicken-egg question. For me I think it was the depression and anxiety first which was intensified by the food…
At 14 I was bullied, and not by “the cool kids” or the “tough kids” but by the people I had considered my friends, the ones I was closest to. It was all instigated by a girl that, at the time, I considered one of my best friends – I had stayed over at her house, we had shared secrets, talked about boys and been almost inseparable since we started school. Then she suddenly decided that our friendship wasn’t important anymore. Why? I don’t know, I honestly can’t remember if I ever found out why but I do know that my entire group of friends made my life hell for a good a year. I am pretty sure that is when the first signs of depression reared their ugly head, it was subtle but it was there. I started developing a pretty severe social anxiety and I never wanted to leave my house. Even when I made new friends I was still always scared that they would one day walk away from me, turn against me or that they secretly hated me. I still have those moments today, as a 24 year old woman I still panic that my friends actually hate me.
A couple of years later my parents split – fuel to the fire. I was at home alone a lot, they were both working, hardly speaking, I spent a lot of time looking after my brother and I had the house pretty much to myself, what did that mean? I had unrestricted access to the kitchen and a knowledge of how to cook for myself. I started eating when I was bored, when I was trying to avoid doing homework or when I was sad (which was a lot) I would eat, I never thought anything of it. I don’t know why I turned to food but I guess it was just the easiest option really, it was easy to get and I couldn’t really get into trouble for eating could I?
From there is was pretty much an emotional rollercoaster. I was depressed, without a doubt – I look back on it now and sometimes I wonder how I actually got through it. I never took medication and for a while I saw an NLP practitioner who taught me some tools that really helped but it wasn’t a quick fix and a lot of the time I felt like I didn’t even want to fix myself. I had relationships – many of which were so incredibly unhealthy I cannot even bring myself to go into it. I had friends, I was at a good school but none of that really made me feel any better and the worse I felt the more I ate with, complete disregard for how sick it was making me feel, all I knew was that it cheered me up.
This is what addiction does. It sneaks up when you’re not looking, you only notice it when you look back on it.
Since school I have still struggled with depression, there have been many times where I contemplated suicide, I’ve self harmed and have the awful scars as lifelong reminders, I’ve put myself in situations I could have avoided because of it and all the while I have been slowly putting on the weight, eating my way through it, and ruining what should be a beautiful and healthy relationship with food.