It's really bloody scary when you think about it. You're 50 feet high and you can't just jump back down to the ground you know.
©Steve Mann / Adobe Stock
Ahhh – my eating disorder stories bring back so many memories.
My family was never sure of what to expect each morning, as I came creeping out of my bedroom.
Would a positivity fairy come walking out today?
Or a snake ready to attack? A sassy lioness with attitude for every person (and object) in sight?
Or a sad, confused girl with no fight left to give?
Having a mental illness is hard fucking work. Living with someone with a mental illness can be just as hard.
Along with my family, I never knew what to expect of myself when I woke up. I never knew what mood I’d find myself in.
After some time, I learned to just not expect any more.
“Having a mental illness is hard fucking work. Living with someone with a mental illness can be just as hard”
Having an eating disorder (let’s call it ED) is like sitting in a roller coaster. It can make you feel like it’s fun, but it’s really bloody scary when you think about it. You’re 50 feet high and you can’t just jump back down to the ground you know.
Some days are good. Some days are not so good. Some days I don’t remember, because they’re easier to forget. There are moments I won’t ever forget though.
They’re admittedly amusing to look back on now. Amusing, but frightening all the same, to see how little control I had over my ED. I felt like I was in control and like I was winning. I was far from it.
I have a lot to share about my time with an eating disorder. The mood swings are just one rather ordinary aspect of having an eating disorder. I know most people go through intense mood swings, ED or not. So I’ll share some more cringe-worthy moments with you.
Eating disorder stories: the one about the hospital muffin
A few years ago I was hospitalised because of an eating disorder.
I was sent up immediately; my town is small and isolated, and I needed to go to a bigger, better, hospital in the city. Far away.
Due to the lack of beds, I was placed in a room with two to seven year olds. I was sixteen.
My room was brightly rainbow coloured, adding to my tension. Donald Duck and Daisy were on the wall next to me. Lego was constantly, everywhere. Along with the smell of baby powder — but maybe that’s a hospital thing.
My room had 4 other beds in it. The children switched around during my stay, but they were always aged between two and seven.
Imagine; a pubescent teenager, in hospital for anorexia, trying to stay calm and “just eat” her darn sandwich, whilst the ill children around her are screaming for their mothers.
It was hectic and stressful to say the least.
One day during my hospital stay, I got so agitated, I went full savage.
The lovely nurse had just brought me a giant chocolate chip muffin — to my horror. It was tightly wrapped in glad wrap. One of those average month old hospital muffins.
It sat at the end of my bed, staring at me.
Waiting for me to eat it.
In panic of the chance I might eat it; my ED became really, really angry.
I started yelling at the nurse who had already left.
I yelled loud. I sounded like an inflamed Shrek.
“HOW DARE YOU BRING ME THIS CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFIN, AND LEAVE ME ALONE WITH IT!?”
I reached for the innocent muffin and hurled it straight across the room, as hard as I could. I could have won a cricket game with that bowl.
The muffin bounced off of the wall (it was definitely more rubber than cake), and landed in the five year olds fish bowl.
The glad wrap broke, and pieces were left splattered on the five-year-olds pillow, and head.
All of a sudden there was silence.
All four children in the room stared at me. Not one single movement. They were petrified.
I had to switch rooms.
In the nurse’s notes for the rest of my time in hospital, it said:
“DO NOT offer muffin.”
Eating disorder stories: the one about almonds
After my time in hospital, came the obsession with using the same heart shaped bowl for every meal.
I told my parents it made me feel like my food was love; that it was a helpful tactic for me.
Really, it was just the eating disorder attempting to control serving sizes.
I couldn’t eat out of anything other than that bowl, which made eating even more complicated.
Heart-shaped bowls haunt me to this day. As do glad wrapped chocolate chip muffins.
Eating disorder stories: the one about food scales
I lied about a lot of things to my concerned, desperate parents.
I told them that I needed to have scales, to make sure I was eating enough.
Ha-ha. Good one, ED.
The scales were to ensure I wasn’t eating enough.
I remember weighing my almonds. If they were one gram over what I wanted, I’d take out one almond. Sometimes, I’d have to cut an almond in half, or even in quarters, to get the exact weight I wanted.
This was fuel to the fire of a new mental thing that started popping up for me, people call it OCD. It wasn’t fun.
EDs are extremely inconsiderate of time, and food wastage.
Eating disorder stories: the one about the tuna pasta bake
This one is one of my biggest shames…
A few weeks after hospital; I began to see my friends again.
The first time I did, I went for a sleepover. That was a big step for me.
My friend’s Mum cooked a tuna pasta bake for dinner. It smelt amazing. We all sat on the couch to eat.
As much as I wanted to eat it, the ED made me evade the intimidating pasta bake. It was staring at me just like that muffin was.
Plus, my heart shaped bowl wasn’t in use.
Spoonful after spoonful, I snuck the bake down the sides of the couch. I finished my bowl, without tasting a single morsel of that tuna pasta bake.
Missing out on meals with friends was annoying. I felt distanced and alone.
Weeks later, I was at that same friend’s house again.
I walked through to the living room, and found my friend’s cat, ferociously licking the couch. Her crazed eyes connected with mine, and I instantly knew what she had found.
My friends mum came to investigate.
She gasped and dry-reached. The smell was horrible; three week old tuna pasta bake.
I was filled with shame, and I avoided my friend’s Mum for years to come.
Eating disorder stories: the one about the curry house
My first time eating out with an ED we went to a curry house.
I wore a bra with a cup three times too big for my lumpy little mosquito bites.
ED’s are tactical master minds.
I didn’t eat my curry, but I certainly felt its warmth dripping down my belly and onto my lap, after spooning it down my shirt.
EDs are not flattering in any way.
That bra ended up in the bin. It was stained turmeric yellow.
I’d been saving that bra for the day I could fit it better.
I felt horrible for wasting food, and my skin was sore from the hot curry.
I never once had a graceful experience with the ED — although the ED worked hard to convince me otherwise.
There really is nothing flattering about an ED.
The so-called positives are met with unlimited negatives, and lifetime consequences.
When I feel the ED’s grip coming back for me, I find it helpful to remind myself of the unflattering issues that are bound to any ED.
The true positives are found in the life after and without an eating disorder.