Disordered eating is not a lifestyle choice. It's not because a person is vain or trying to lose weight for a wedding. It might start off like that, but once it has sunk its teeth into your psyche, disordered eating tells you when and what to eat...or not eat. And during the process of deciding whether you will eat, disordered eating breaks you down until all of your failures are highlighted in neon lights in your brain. Nobody wants to feel like this. Nobody chooses this.
Having battled disordered eating for 30 years, those who can pop a muffin top into their mouths and chew into it with enjoyment or even disinterest -- without even so much as a second of hesitation during the process of placing muffin to lips -- are viewed as interesting and brave beings to be observed and admired by those of us who find the very act of touching the moist snack a deed which causes anxiety, distress, anguish, and even fear. These are emotions which can only be described as comparable to those associated with undergoing a painful procedure at the dentist.
It sounds so simple, doesn't it? It shouldn't even be worth writing about. But to someone with Anorexia Nervosa or bulimia, or an Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), to hold a muffin in our hand; to stare at it with longing; to want to peel off that first bite and place it into our mouth, requires an extensive mental conversation which will continue long after we've actually swallowed the muffin, abstained from it, or purged it.
"I'm going to eat this muffin. I am. I really am. But it'll be OK because I'll go for an hour run afterwards. I need to step up my cardio anyway. I couldn't believe how big my thighs were when I saw my reflection in the glass doors when I came to work this morning.
I weighed 110 lbs before I got dressed today. I've gained 6 lbs since December. If I can just get back down to 104 lbs., I'm sure I won't feel so sad all the time. I'm so tired of feeling like this. I just want to die.
I'm such a loser. Why did I even pick up this muffin? I should have left it in the box for the other girls. I'm so stupid. I can't believe I'm considering putting this in my mouth. I'm worthless. I can't even resist a muffin, it's no wonder I suck at everything.
Okay. If I do eat this, I'll take some laxatives. I have a box of 30 in my purse. Fifteen should do the trick.
Oh God. But what if it doesn't? What if I get on the scale tomorrow and I haven't lost any weight? Or I've gained some? I suck. I need to put this muffin down. And just not eat anything for the rest of the day. I'll keep drinking my diet drink, that'll fill me up. Maybe I won't eat tomorrow either. That'll make me feel better, maybe I'll even feel happy if I go for two days without eating.
I'm so useless. Nobody likes me anyway so who cares if I even eat this muffin? I can't do anything right. My mom was right: all I ever do is make mistakes.
But look at Shelley eating her muffin. It looks so good. But I couldn't do like she's doing; I couldn't just dip it into my coffee like that. How can she let it touch her lips? Maybe I can nibble at it, chew it for a few seconds, then spit it out?
Oh fuck it. I'm eating it. Actually, I'll eat all of them; there are only three left. I'll eat the chocolate muffin first so that it will be my marker when I throw all this shit up after.
God, I'm such a loser."
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