As I was reading through Twitter accounts and bios of people advocating for the recognition of eating disorders as real and dangerous, I came across the words "ex-anorexic." I was jealous. I am able to eat a meal with my family, and quietly endure the self-loathing afterwards with no physiological consequences; but the mental battle drags me through such an obstacle course, that by the time I've reached the finish line, I am no longer certain of whether or not I want to get better. Unfortunately, part of me is convinced that there is no such thing as getting better from this
The image of what often comes to mind, and what is often publicized for people with eating disorders is a younger female who is skeletal in frame. In my case, I was a young man who was albeit thin, also quite muscular. I worked in health in fitness. I helped people get fit. I was supposed to be the voice of healthy living.
Thinking of people with eating disorders as crazy or self-destructive is just wrong, says Dr. Steiger. In fact, there are still too many myths attached to eating disorders -- like the following. It's a rich girl's disease: In fact, eating disorders cut across all economic groups. Goals and values of being upwardly mobile, of being achievement oriented affect all social groups.
It is with great apprehension that I write this post and confession. Two weeks ago, I reentered a treatment program at the hospital, because I have relapsed into bulimia, and can't fight this alone. The treatment program will last at least seven months, involving multiple weekly visits to the eating disorder clinic at the hospital, where I will participate in supervised meals, various groups and one-on-one therapy. This is my third time going into treatment. The hypocrisy of preaching healthy eating while doing ED treatment fills me with guilt.
At ten, I was accepted into the National Ballet School of Canada training program. In puberty I developed curves that were considered too fat for the ballet world. I decided to diet my curves away, as the accolades in ballet went to girls who looked deathly thin. But my calculated "career move" soon became my nightmare. I became borderline anorexic and then bulimic. After dieting intensely for days, a famished "creature" would seize control, and an intense desire to eat would overcome my willpower.
Note how she loyally reproduces the copybook script she learned in school and, in so doing, shows us that, first and foremost, she values fitting in. Such writers, amiable and good-natured, easily lapse into people-pleasing. And they often harbor secret self-negating habits designed to help them keep insecurities at bay.
"Orthorexia nervosa - obsessed with eating to improve your health" defined "orthorexia" as "a new type of eating disorder [...] where people are becoming obsessed with eating to improve their health." Uh... where does that leave you and I? I have often said that we could only be so lucky to be named "the healthy one" by those around us.