I’ve battled eating disorders since middle school and if you have one or know of someone who does, it isn’t something that can just go away. I know many alcoholics and recovery isn’t easy for them either and I am not trying to imply that— but you can choose to not be around alcohol when you’re struggling— with eating disorders, you don’t have the choice to just stop eating. You don’t just choose to recover, you have to choose it multiple times a day.
Last fall I was hospitalized because of my suicidal ideation and the doctor at the hospital prescribed me Lithium. Between the side effects of it making me extremely sick and my depression, I lost over 25 pounds in less than a month. I basked in the compliments, I attached my worth into fitting in clothes with smaller numbers. Size 12— Woohoo! Size 10— let’s keep it going! Size 8— Fuck yes!
Last week I took the winter clothes out of storage because of the trip up north, and NOTHING fit me. I didn’t have warm clothes to wear and I felt so incredibly disgusting. While I was packing, I was crying. Jim told me we should go shopping for some warm clothes and we did. Our first stop was Duluth Trading Company and the sizes in the store only went up to 16. I am currently fitting into 18/20. Next stop was REI, and the same thing happened. On the way up here we stopped at Fleet Farm and found one pair that fit and that was after digging through piles of clothes that were misplaced. Then we stopped at Kohls and I looked in the plus size section, I felt like I was going to collapse because I was so gutted by this process of finding pants that I could feel good in.
When you have depression, there are a lot of variables that can increase or decrease your weight— medication changes are (I think) the biggest one— since March I have been prescribed 14 medications, and now I’m only on one. but I’m kind of at a loss. I eat small portions, I try really hard to eat 3 meals a day, and I HATE that every calorie feels like a war. I’m not sedentary— I have kids that never let me sit down. Talking with my therapist, she also agrees that this weight gain isn’t coming from what I’m eating but because of the toll my mental illness is taking on my body.
My relationship with food and self-worth can impact my kids and I need to be SO careful around them— I never want them to see me look in a mirror and frown or watch me react as I stand on a scale (which is why we got rid of ours). I want to be a positive role model to them and for them to believe deeply that their sizes do not define their beauty. We need to live in a culture that accepts all body types. Western beauty standards are bullshit and impossible to achieve.
With tears currently streaming down my face, I have to admit that I am at a loss on how to keep going without triggering my eating disorder further. I cannot stand pictures of myself, but I try to share them as an opposite action (DBT skill). As a feminist who preaches body love, I am full of shame. I can look at anyone that has a larger body and think to myself, wow they are so incredibly beautiful. Confidence is sexy, I know that. I would love to treat my body like it belongs to someone I love— but that isn’t where I am right now. I know there is no wrong way to have a body. I have not loved my body in months. I hate how wearing clothes feels. I just want to feel comfortable in my own skin again.