Eating and Me: I
I’ve known this for a long time: I have a problem with my eating.
I’ve been talking about it recently to my therapist, who wants to dig into it deeper to find out if I have an eating disorder of some kind. I don’t know if my issues with food are big enough to be considered ‘Disordered Eating’, but I know they’re not normal or healthy. They’re the definition of a Sad Habit.
Depression and Food go hand in hand for me. When I’m sad, I eat everything. When I’m suicidal, I don’t eat anything at all. My family are all comfort eaters, so I’m not sure if it’s learned behavior, or if there’s a space in our DNA designated to eating habits. This is a fairly complex part of my life with multiple different facets, so I’m not even sure where to begin. I’m fairly certain I’ve been this way since I was a young kid, so I guess that’s as good a place as any to start.
Firstly, I’m tall. When I was six, I was the tallest person in my class. This meant that I was physically larger than the other small, dainty little girls I was in school with. To me, this translated into a feeling of hugeness. I felt giant compared to the other kids. I wasn’t overweight until I hit puberty, but I remember being eight and thinking I needed to diet, as though reducing my weight would fix the disparity in height. I had a good height/weight ratio as a kid, and I was pretty active — but the body dysmorphia starts early. I felt big and uncomfortable in my own body
Secondly, I get obsessive about unimportant tasks. Small, repetitive things that can be done easily and mindlessly, I need to do them to the fullest capacity as quickly as possible (for maximum efficiency). Watching nine seasons of a TV show in twelve days, or looking at every single item on a website when I’m online shopping. Getting bored and frustrated with slogging through pages and pages of useless information, but having to do it because—Just because. I don’t know, I haven’t figured that out yet. But this behavior extends to comfort eating.
To cure a bad day, have some cookies or a handful of candy. This is what we did in my house. So therefore, doesn’t it make sense that soul crushing, bone deep, aching sadness would be cured with a correspondingly huge amount of food? I would eat until I felt stuffed full, until it was painful, until I thought I might throw up. I still do. I eat food in secret, away from other people who might want to share, to maximize the amount that I can consume.
The first time I did this, I would have been nine or ten, and I was home alone for around an hour. There was a packet of cookies* on the top shelf of the cupboard, and I thought to myself that one couldn’t hurt. So I had one. I had one cookie repeatedly until there were only two left. My parents got home and found the remains of Baby’s First Binge, and asked my why I’d done it, didn’t I understand sharing, that I couldn’t do this because it’s not healthy?
I didn’t mean to be selfish or greedy, I just… Needed to eat them. I didn’t realize until I went to take two cookies and they were the last two. I don’t know, I don’t remember how it happened. I just needed to maximize the intake. I don’t think I was hungry, but the cookies were feeding something inside of me. Excessive consumption was the name of the game, and I was hooked from then on out.
That obsessiveness and the body dysmorphia combined into a perfect storm of issues surrounding food. Thinking about all this has me wishing I could go back and be the person I needed when I was that age, to protect myself and be my own friend. I was a smart kid, but I was obnoxious and loud. People didn’t really like me, and I couldn’t figure out why. My relationships with other kids is a story for a different time, but it made me aware that I was different somehow, and that I was angry about it.
I think that’s the bedrock of my painful need for people to like me, but I don’t know when or how that got linked to the importance of being thin. Skinny people are pretty, and people like people who are pretty and skinny. I was neither of those things, so people didn’t like me. I was kind of afraid of being fat. When I was ten, I had a friend who was a little chubby, and I clearly remember thinking, ‘If I’m ever that fat, I’m going to kill myself’.
Jokes on you, baby Sad Habits, we are definitely way fatter than our friend was, and you also want to die on a regular basis. Ha ha! ):
My fear of being fat developed into a sort of angry self hatred that laid the foundation for years of depression, which I medicated with food, leading me to become overweight. I turned my fear into a self-fulfilled prophecy, and ain’t that a hard pill to swallow.
But before all that happened, I tried starving myself.
Eating and Me: II (Coming Soon)
Sad Habits Girl
*They were coconut macaroons which I don’t even like that much. Speaks volumes about the lengths I’ll go to in order to feed the pit of depression living inside me lmao.