In the name of destigmatization of health issues I decided a while ago that I was going to use this website to write about what it means to have an eating disorder. This page chronicles some of the experiences I have as I go through recovery.
My history with disordered eating
My eating disorder has developed in response to a number of (untreated) adverse childhood experiences, which left me feeling powerless, unsafe, and unimportant. The first eating disordered act I remember was at age seven, but really there is no time “before my eating disorder”. The first time I knew I had an eating disorder was in my early teens.
Or rather than “knew” I “wanted” one.
With the rise of Web 2.0, I fell into a deep hole of pro-ana Xanga blogs1 that showed me that having an eating disorder was glamorous, effective, and hip. A close friend and I would get together and “fake” having an eating disorder by carrying out associated behaviors. Things I now know to be life-threatening, and detrimental to anyone’s long-term mental health. At home, certainly dictated by Diet culture, my Food Rule Book began growing and growing.
Despite the signs, my eating disorder remained untreated.
Somehow, in my late teens, I managed to pivot. I began telling myself that what I had been doing was terrible, that I deserved a better life. I moved away for university, and began taking care of my own mini household, which, with all the laundry, and the studying, and the cleaning, and the cooking, I found rather overwhelming. My Food Rule Book became a safe haven, just now with new rules. The rules were as volatile as the one’s I’d created before, just different.
For well over a decade I considered myself recovered from my teenage eating disorder. After all, I wasn’t really doing what I had done as a teenager. I was better with food. Meanwhile, I knew I would always have “food trouble”, as I’d tell myself.
Then Covid came. At the cusp of the first round of vaccines, I received an invitation to discuss my options with our family doctor. I was eager to get the shot, but not if it was Astra Zeneca, which was soon to be taken out of rotation due to health risks. My doctor gave me some time to think it over, and when I did, I had a thought that would save my life: “why am I so scared of a vaccine when I am willingly destroying my body in the name of ‘food trouble’?”
My doctor referred me to a Human Concern clinic for eating disorders, and I’ve been working hard to come to terms with what “food trouble” means ever since.
Meet my eating disorder
My eating disorder has developed in response to a number of (untreated) adverse childhood experiences, which left me feeling powerless, unsafe, and unimportant. As is often the case with people who experience such things, the resulting health problems can be a whole cluster of things. Because of its age and complexity, my eating disorder was able to roam undetected for years, changing tactics to remain unseen.
At Human Concern, I was diagnosed with Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder, a subclinical DSM 5 category describing atypical disorderd eating. In my case, this means my eating disorder combines traits from all variants, with varying degrees of intensity and frequency.
It’s not about food
On here, I’m purposely vague about the eating disordered behaviors that characterize various periods in my life. I do this for two reasons:
- Inspired by Diet culture, societies often have the incorrect assumption that certain eating disorders are better, more glamorous, or more worthy of awe than others. It’s not true, and actually very dangerous for people who are battling eating disorders. I was able to tell myself for years that nothing was wrong with me because at least I didn’t have that one particular eating disorder.
- Eating disorders are not about food
Pro-ana refers to content containing references to or depictions of severely underweight people ↩