Skeletal Marriage: My Anorexia
The first was to understand why I stopped eating to begin with. Like everybody, I am a complex individual with unique struggles and pinpointing exact reasons is nigh on impossible. This is what I do know. A driving force behind the development of my eating disorder was my sexuality.
Coming from a background of childhood trauma, I attempted to starve myself into a state of oblivion — a factor I have discovered is common. I have met people of all weights and shapes with traumatic backgrounds who use the eating disorder as a crutch in an attempt to make themselves as unattractive as possible to deflect attention from sexuality.
I am bisexual, a fact nobody in my family was bothered by, apart from myself. Culturally, I was caught in the confusion of East meets the West at home an Eastern mum married to a Western dad presented rather chaotic situations. I felt like a cultural misfit. I became secretive and starved, becoming increasingly withdrawn and obsessive. The warning signs were all there, yet it was only when my weight hit a critical point I was forced to access urgent care, which involved significant weight gain, CBT and family therapy.
Through the years post treatment, I have learned and educated people about the fact eating disorders are mental illnesses that are deadly no matter what the weight, shape, background, sexuality or colour of the person. Eating disorders do not discriminate and leave no stone unturned in holding one hostage. The stereotypes that influence access to treatment are literally life threatening and it is evident when looking at current figures that there is a crisis at hand. Life with an eating disorder is cruel. It robs you of identity, self, relationships and pride but in the end, there is this.
When it boils down to you as a person versus the eating disorder, hold onto the fact recovery is entirely possible. You deserve recovery — meaning you deserve to live your life, not merely exist. Eating disorders take many different forms, and anyone can have one, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, sexuality, class, ability, or any other aspect of identity. Yet these things can have an impact on the way someone's eating disorder develops and on their ability to seek and receive help.
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Fat is bad. Beat your stomach every day to keep the hunger pangs at bay. They can become infatuated with their low weight and skeletal appearance. I would spend hours in front of the mirror, admiring my bones, the way my ribs stuck out, my hip bones like coat hangers. There are still some bits I need to reduce a little.
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It makes life simple and reduces mess. Dieting has clear simple rules for performance which suits the personality of an anorexic. Fearing food displaces the overwhelming fears of other things in life like relationships which they may be unable to manage. What else am I afraid of? Anorexia is useful in suppressing sexual feelings and experiences like menstruation which are distasteful. Anorexia brings attention which is both desired and rejected. This is very confusing to carers.
My father has never been nasty to me since I got anorexia. My brother got a lot of attention for being naughty when I was little. I just faded into the background trying not to make anyone unhappy. Anorexia can be useful in bringing together warring parents or carers to unite in their attempt to manage the illness. My parents split up and my dad has gone to live with another woman. I still want to feel special to him. The anorexic person has no defence against the Voice which threatens consequences if it is disobeyed. Charlotte Crilly: Hope with Eating Disorders. Those sirens would never have allowed me the saffron buns.
Did the illness sense that I had been winning? Did it thus return vengeful and furious to punish me for galettes and honeyed yoghurt? Freeman, The Reading Cure. Some sufferers say that the only way to suppress a huge noise in their head is not to eat. Eating will bring the noises back. Physical changes of low weight and poor eating work to make eating difficult.
People with anorexia develop a range of digestive disturbances like constipation, poor digestion and stomach pain which confirms that they may not eat. Brain function changes due to starvation which makes it hard for someone restricting food to think clearly. Despite starving, he or she can still do exams, write essays and gain First Class degrees at college.
But emotionally, a person with anorexia has regressed.
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We believe that therapy only works if BMI is greater than 17 although this may not apply to everyone. It is a compelling argument in favour of re-feeding before much of the work of psychotherapy can begin. Core low self-worth in someone with severe anorexia makes eating feel undeserved. Horrible, irrational but deeply held beliefs about oneself make it hard for someone with anorexia to wish to survive. It is no use convincing a person with anorexia of all their good qualities, self-worth is something that is felt in the heart, less so in the mind.
I am just a waste of space. Anorexia is useful because a starving person cannot feel their emotions, which feel forbidden. Schemas are belief systems that also contain memories of experiences. We believe that people with anorexia, for unknown hidden reasons believe themselves to be impure, contaminated and unworthy to express their feelings. This might explain why with individuals with anorexia have a strong drive for purity asceticism.
Starving blocks feelings and anorexia is useful for blocking the beliefs about oneself which follow from having difficult emotions. The drive for purity may not disappear with treatment and explains why some people recover from anorexia only if they are able to eat clean foods or remain obsessed with healthy eating. There is deception, secrecy and game playing. Everyone is discouraged.
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We believe that it is pointless to blame someone with anorexia for behaving anorexically. I sprinkle some cereal in a bowl, and put a bit of milk in, and put the spoon in and stir it around. Then I leave it on the side and my mum will think I have had my breakfast. Sometimes I shake the crumbs out of the toaster and leave it on a plate. They think I had a snack. More if they got me to have an extra bite.
I hate myself. People with anorexia may not be consciously aware of their arguments against change because they live from one day to the next, focused mainly on maintaining the status -quo, and trying to stay in control. Resistance to change will persist even if people start thinking that they wish to get well.
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Motivational work is an essential part of therapy for the condition. Starvation and malnutrition affect every system in the body, metabolic, digestive, skeletal, endocrine, neurological, and circulatory. Mental, mood, thinking and the ability to make decisions is impaired. Because of changes in the chemicals of mood which are nutrition dependent, there is a heightened risk of suicidal thoughts.
The most immediate effect of starvation is on sex hormones and bone density. Adolescence is a period in which new bone is laid down and so the effects of starvation will affect bone density for life.