“I started having issues with my body when I was a child”

**Trigger warning: mentions abuse**

I started having issues with my body when I was a child; maybe 5 or 6. I can’t remember the exact point though because at the same time I was being abused. Although to me it was what every kid went through. I would wake up and wonder how I would earn my pocket money that week, would I get beaten up for doing something wrong or would it just be because I spoke at the wrong time? In my mind the only thing I controlled was me. I couldn’t control what went on outside my body because I was being bullied in school too. However I always had my insides. They were mine and always would be. So I decided to not eat certain foods; to make life difficult for my parents and for school teachers because everyone was making my life so darn miserable. This continued for years and by the time I entered the care system as a young person I couldn’t eat most foods even if I wanted to. My body didn’t know how to digest them properly; although I didn’t know that’s why I felt crap after eating them. By the time I entered puberty and wondered why I didn’t fancy anyone I thought it was because I was fat. I had “puppy” fat and a chubby stomach. I couldn’t do sport and I was only average in school. This killed me; I was never normal and felt like I never would be. This was when I started using food as an emotional crutch. I would reward myself with sweet foods and would punish myself the rest of the time with the same meal every day. If I was in a really good mood I didn’t eat at all and if I felt drained I would fill up on food. This meant that I never actually gained or lost weight particularly. This is until I dropped out of school and joined the military at 18. When I got to basic training I had restricted my allowed foods to the point there was nothing on the menus I could eat. So for 14 weeks I survived on cereal, jam sandwiches and puddings. This meant that I finished seriously ill and also 12 pounds lower than my “average” or ideal body weight. I thought I looked amazing; toned thighs, thin arms, flatter stomach and I could fit into size 8/10! After this I did put weight back on and slowly creeped up to 11 ½ stone. I was still fit but it wasn’t enough; I had lost the tone and I could pinch fat! Admittedly it was only about an inch on my stomach and I had some love handle weight but it was enough. I started dieting and tried following the advice in many different diet books. None of it worked so after I moved to London and started comparing myself to all the beautiful lesbians on the scene. I decided to only eat when I got hungry. This worked great because I lived on fat coke and never had to eat. Then if I started feeling under the weather I could take multi-vitamins and everything would be ok! It wasn’t ok and it never will be. I’ve limited my food intake for so long that my body can’t actually digest most foods and although I’ve never been underweight, I’ve always had periods and people have never been worried to my knowledge; I still have disordered eating. I am permanently disabled now because of a nerve disorder and in my darkest hour I wonder whether if I engineered my meds properly I could stave off hunger forever and be even skinnier. I don’t know what I look like and never will because I have Body Dysmorphic Disorder which means that even if I was just skin and bones. I would see that skin and those bones as lumps to get rid of. Very infrequently I catch myself in a shop window or a mirror and think “wow pretty” but then I remember that after the first glance everything else is wrong with me. For anyone who ever thinks food is a good way to control your life; it isn’t. As you don’t control disordered eating, it controls you. It makes you panic in restaurants when there’s nothing you can be allowed to eat, it stops you from tucking into your favourite meal or it turns a fun date into a horrific escapade that could land you in hospital. I don’t go a day where I’m not battling food demons or telling myself it’s okay to eat it. I play sport now and am very active so have to keep my energy up but I will never be free of the thoughts. I will never be free of the stress and when everything else is falling apart that is the thing that keeps me grounded; when on a good day it’s the thing that tears me apart.

 


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