I have an eating disorder I describe as mild.
I can control it. Rather, it exists, but it rarely controls me.
I am aware that my thinking is not normal. I am aware that I do not see myself as others see me. I am aware that, in times of stress and strife, I stop eating. Or I want to stop eating. Or I am so nauseated I cannot fathom eating.
The reason that I feel it is mild is that I can — eventually — talk myself through it. I am aware of the disordered thoughts, which allows me to think I have a measure of control. Which allows me to think I am in control.
Which is sort of what this entire disorder is all about.
Essentially, at its heart, it’s about control over the chaos. When you cannot control anything else, you can control food.
But it’s bigger than that.
I have no idea how I look on a daily basis and I am always surprised — always — that I am thinner than women I consider thin. Even now, when I consider myself “heavy” at 122 pounds (I am 5’5″), I know I am considered thin by other people.
I also am surrounded by women who are also disordered.
And, again, let’s be honest, many women have an unhealthy relationship with food and an unhealthy relationship with their bodies.
I have studied dance — studied is perhaps too strong a word — but as an adult I have taken dance classes 2-3 times a week for a couple of years until a series of injuries kept me away. But I have lots of friends who dance professionally and friends who work in fashion and friends who work in pr and I am surrounded by women who also don’t eat.
We say we do.
And sometimes we do.
But let’s be honest, unless you’re dancing 6 hours a day, you’re not maintaining a sub-100 pound figure eating cheeseburgers every day. One day a week, sure. Every day, no.
And the older we get, the harder it is.
I am over 40, although I do not look it, and the fact that I felt the need to say that says a lot about me and how I think about myself. I date significantly younger men, although to be fair, they all look much older than they are.
In many, many ways, my life is falling apart. It’s been falling apart for years. It’s been falling apart for so long it is hard to remember a time when it was all together. It was better before 0908, but it’s been a challenge and I have been making bad choices.
In part, I have been making bad choices because I am disordered. But I have been a successful person with these thoughts swirling as well
So, it’s 9:06 am and I am sitting on my sofa, waiting for FM to exit his room, knowing he’s going to yell at me. I could be wrong. He could take pity on me. But most likely, he will yell at me.
I am incapable of economically surviving right now.
And yet, on a daily basis, I do work that could be very economically rewarding, picking up 50k here, 100k there, etc. Except it’s not. And I have no control over anything and no financial backstop.
BFD is upset with me because I have not asked him for help when I’ve needed it, or been honest with him when there was a (for him) easily solvable problem. But, how can you tell anyone just how bad things really are? I have to deal with this stuff on a daily basis and I am barely surviving.
Last Wednesday, I had a near breakdown. The build-up was immediate, the resolution was swift, and I raised my chin and moved on.
But I live in a constant state of stress and fear.
And there is little I can do.
Except not eat.
Not-eating makes me feel better. In fact, it makes me feel better than eating.
I have been making small, incremental changes to improve my life, which does enable me to improve my outlook, which is necessary for my life to improve overall.
This has been an on-going work in progress for a long time. It has improved a lot of things in my life.
And yet today, sitting here under incredible stress and strain, knowing that I have about $7 to last until next Tuesday, knowing that I am light on food, knowing the cable was just shut off this morning (which is why FM will yell at me), knowing that my cell has been off for two whole months, knowing I’ve not had my hair done in months, knowing I am running out of makeup, knowing that I am about $3k in debt thanks to a home emergency not covered by our insurance, knowing I am terrified of potential health issues, knowing I have no idea how I will survive this, I am writing this rather than working and writing this rather than eating. I have enough food in my pantry and enough money in my wallet to survive until next Tuesday. It’s a week. I have proteins in the freezer, I have frozen spinach, I have onions, I have butter and olive oil, I have a lot of fresh feta, heavy cream, and access to eggs at the market. I will be okay. I can make two quiches which is 16 meals. I can make chorizo burgers and turkey burgers and fish fillets.
I will be fine.
But I don’t want to eat. I want to look better in this American Apparel dress I bought on a whim a few months ago when times were significantly more flush. I want to feel better about my body and not loathe my fat thighs.
I want to ignore everything and be back in control.
But I can’t be.
I can only control me and how I handle things. And, to outside observers, things are good. I am with friends, I am dating cute boys who are smart and interesting, I am loved by great people. Blah blah blah.
And there are moments of joy. And possible areas of improvement. And things are getting better.
But right now just feels like more than I can handle.
I am waiting to get paid for work I did months ago. Still waiting, I mean. I am facing a challenging climate and nothing is improving on a daily basis, even if it is improving on a fundamental basis.
I am trying to fix things, but it is all daunting.
And at 9:32, I can hear FM coughing in his room, and I know, soon, he’ll figure out the internet is out. And he’ll yell at me. And there’s nothing I can do about it.
Yep, he’s up and he wants me to pay it with his card. Except that means he won’t be paying rent next week and I need food more than I need internet service.
FM and I ended up getting into an argument. Of course.
He told me he was paying it because he needed access to work and it was not an advance.
It was overly dramatic and fucked up.
As everything between us is.
He yelled at me, gave me a hard time about not handling this when he handed me his card, blah blah blah.
He was so pissed, he scared the dog, who he then took on his morning walk — which is usually my gig. Poor dog. I had to comfort him when they got back.
I had to pretend to be okay to calm down the dog.
And then, by pretending I was okay, I was okay. I was at least able to breathe.
Ultimately, I wanted to get off the sofa and then eat. I had a small omelet: butter, an egg, heavy cream, mozzerella cheese.
When I have been hungry throughout the day, I have walked past the floor to ceiling mirror in my dining room and realized I am looking better by not eating. I hate being heavy. If you’ve been reading me for a while, you know I used to weigh much, much more.
And I worked hard and I lost the weight, and I have kept it off. My friends begged me to gain weight when I became alarmingly thin. They’re all concerned again, though I weigh 15 pounds more than when they intervened.
My weight is a topic of conversation among my close friends. They know. They watch. We all watch each other. We all intervene. When we say “she looks thin,” we do not mean “she looks good.”
I am not alone in this. I have comfort in that. I am not alone in any of it. But I am not talking about it. I am not really talking about it here. That slippery slope of disordered thinking and food insecurity (after a night out with PR of all people left me blowing my entire budget for the week) and stress and chaos.
That’s where I am. Knowing that I am in control of this situation. Knowing that it is the only control I have. Knowing that I need to exert control over chaos. Knowing it’s not healthy. Being okay with it anyway.
I feel better, but it’s not a strong confident better. It’s a weak better, where I could easily backslide.
I am focusing on positive things. I am thinking about the fish fillet I may cook tonight with a cream sauce experiment I want to undertake. I am playing online scrabble against my friend SD. I am ignoring the inflammation I feel in my joints. I am avoiding dealing with BV’s absence. I am considering inviting a friend over to watch movies — which I mean as a euphemism only — once FM finally gets around to leaving for his date.
I have an awards luncheon to attend tomorrow with one of my best guys friends. I have a wine date with a nice-seeming guy who is only slightly my junior. I have a philanthropic party to attend after that. All of those things make me happy.
I have a party to attend with friends on Saturday and then a man I genuinely like will be back in town after a month away. It’s hard to know if we’re in friend zone or not, but we’re making plans to see each other.
So, I feel better because I had to drag myself out of the depths to be kind to the dog. And FM. And myself.
And that’s how I overcome this when it hits me.