Size Doesn't Matter, Part 1.
Right pals, buckle your seat-belts, turn on a sufficiently snooty out of office reply, double knot your shoelaces, pack some snacks and get ready ‘COS THIS IS OFFICIALLY A LOVE-IN. I just wanted to say a HUGE thanks to everyone who sent messages of support, love and encouragement after I published the first post on the blog. I am so, so unfathomably lucky to be surrounded, virtually and literally, by such effing GREAT PEEPS. Peace, blessings and choc fudge sundaes to you all.
I’ll be honest; I was pretty nervous to post that first bit of writing.
I haven’t written anything in a while and I’m rusty and I banged it out in an evening and pressed the publish button in a bit of a rush. I was a bit anxious that people would find typos, that it wouldn’t read well and that no one would be bovved in the slightest (thank you, thank you and thank you again for proving me wrong).
But more than any of that, the main thing I was worried about was that people who have seen me recently, and those who will see me in the near future would ponder;
but she’s not that thin, is she?
You see, I was motivated to write that blog post was because of a conversation I had with a pal. We were having a little chat about how I feel that I’m really getting better, mainly because of the amount of literature surrounding the topic that I’ve been consuming, to which she replied, ‘yeah, but you weren’t that bad, were you?’.
Love her endlessly as I do, the realisation that those closest to me might not have a full grasp of my current headspace made me want to clear up a coupla bits.
Firstly, eating disorders in their very nature are innately private. You are unlikely to ever know if someone is going through it. You don’t hear many people bemoaning the fact that their anorexia is really giving them gip at the moment or that they can’t come out tonight because they've pencilled in a binge. No one is that quick to shout about the fact that they feel unsafe in performing one of the most necessary acts for human survival. If you’re like me, you become incredibly good at hiding everything, whether that be your feelings or the extra slice of cake you sneak privately when no one’s looking. Only my boyfriend was privy to some of what I was feeling: the tears when faced with the prospect of a social occasion occurring outside of the 'cheat day sleep cycle' (permission to punch me directly in the face next time you see me for even typing that: granted), the anxiety of going on a holiday where I couldn’t control my diet, the incessant questioning about whether I had or hadn’t put on weight.
Secondly, I worry that ‘not that bad’, for some people (certainly not my pal, I must add), might equate to ‘not that thin’. And that’s the main thing that I wanted to clear up today, the misconception that eating disorders are about weight. They aren’t. Eating disorders are a disease of the brain, not the body. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, weight loss was a mere side effect of the illness- a side effect that people were pretty bloody quick to congratulate me on (more on this in part 2, pals). For me, I think the seriousness of how I was feeling was defined by how much space in my brain it took up. And, my my my, did it take up a reserved seat in the First Class coach, right next to the driver. I awoke consumed by thoughts of food. I went to work thinking about food. I went to bed thinking about food. (And obvs, five days a week I went to the gym thinking about food). And the thoughts that interspersed throughout the day were a mixture of the following:
- What can I eat at my next meal?
- How long do I have to wait until I can eat again?
- What am I having for dinner?
- How many calories have I consumed today?
- How many calories have I burnt today?
- What have I eaten so far this week?
- How many ‘off-plan’ foods have I had this week?
- When will I next have an ‘off-plan’ food?
- Where can I restrict for having had an 'off-plan' food?
- How can I avoid eating an 'off-plan' food again this week?
- What will I do at the gym this evening?
- How many hours have I worked out this week?
- How many hours of that was split between cardio and weights?
Like a broken record.
On a friggin loop. All. Day.
It actually became a novel experience to have a thought that wasn’t related to any of the above.
It was all consuming. It really was ‘that bad’.
But the common misgiving that there’s a direct correlation between weight and the severity of an eating disorder stopped me, for an entire year, from ever thinking that I had a problem. That thinking about food all the time wasn’t normal. That freaking out over not exercising at least 4 times a week wasn’t reasonable. That placing all my efforts into losing weight perhaps wasn’t the best use of my time. I think that really, if I’d realised that size actually doesn’t matter, I would’ve sought help a helluva lot earlier. So, if little ole' you out there, whoever you are, think you might be feeling the same way, here's your cue to GET SUM HELP!
I hope that this in some way, cleared a few things up. No, I'm not 'that thin' but size doesn't matter in working out whether things are really 'that bad'.
Size Doesn’t Matter, Part 2 next week peeps, stay tuned.