I have no idea what to title this blog entry.
I’ve been struggling with what to reveal. I am sure that must sound strange given how much I write on my blog about my struggle with mental illness. But somehow, this deep dark secret that I have kept to myself for almost 30 years seems to feel vulnerable; open to being criticized and made fun of.
I’ve struggled with body image; I know many do, so what, right?
For me, I remember wanting my mother’s acceptance and attention. I remember watching her when she would diet. How she would measure her food on the food scale; or read an exercise magazine, that gave her tips to help her lose weight. My mother has never been a large woman, I’d say more curvy but nothing more.
I remember taking that said exercise magazine and hiding it under my bed, pages dog-eared so I wouldn’t forget which ones I HAD to do. I had a tape measure so that I could measure often my neck, wrists, hips, thighs and definitely my butt.
As I was responsible for making meals in our house, I would nibble as I cooked so that when I put food on my plate, I already knew how much I had eaten. When it came to how many calories I had eaten, I don’t remember keeping track at first. Given that I was in school and did like gym class, often I didn’t get angry at how much I ate because I would work out extra hard in class or at home, where I would do sit ups, push ups, side bends, leg lifts. I would do these nightly and quietly, so no one would hear me in my room.
I started to get into laxatives when I was in my mid twenties. The man I was involved with had a niece who had an eating disorder and she used laxatives in large amounts. I figured if it kept her skinny, it would for me too. I used several products, to the point I knew which ones gave me the results I wanted, simply by how much I expelled. I would weigh myself right afterwards so I would learn how much I would want to lose per bowel movement. If I didn’t lose anything, I would take another laxative, determined to “make” my body get rid of everything inside of me.
Herbal cleansers I used those for the same purpose.
My days became more about what the scale would say or how much my thighs measured. If the scale went up, I would become instantly angry. I would beat myself up verbally in my room, pinching fat on my waist and telling myself negative words.
I don’t recall my mother ever saying or commenting to me about my physical appearance; nor my sister.
Soon as I began working my first part time job when I was 14. My days were about going to school and working. By doing this, I could stay busy, thereby not eating much and away from my mom and sister. I was probably more like the average teenager.
When I had to pay rent for my room, things really changed for me. If I wanted a phone, I had to have it installed and pay for it myself. I did my laundry as well. I was feeling more and more like a tenant than a daughter.
Yet, all I wanted was someone to notice me.
Fast forward to now. I revealed all of this in group recently, when another member was sharing her pain and hardships with using food as her self harm. I am the same. I will eat especially when stressed out or upset. Blindly eating whatever I could find in the house. When my clothes began to feel tight, I would step on the scale and the cycle would start all over again.
I would go to the gym, 2 maybe 3 months of dedication. Meals are made with a healthy view. Feeling in control, but everyday like clock work I would step on the scale and depending on what it says, decided how my day was going to be.
That hasn’t changed except I now I from time to time will hide my bathroom mirror so I can only see from the neck up.
However, since starting group, I’ve avoided my scale and the mirror is presently available to look at myself. But before anyone gets excited I do judge myself and most of the time I just use the mirror for my hair and when I brush my teeth.
I don’t want to live like this, yet the anger and frustration I feel over so many things, I do self harm with food. I have wondered if I would just feel better if I cut myself instead. At least with cutting there would be some kind of relief. However, I don’t want anyone to see my scars or what I have been doing, so I know that this is why I have been using food to self harm.
I struggle with the belief I have control over self harming with food. I’ve convinced myself if I don’t stand on the scale, I am in control, but I am fooling myself, I know I’m not.
People talk about self-esteem and having self-worth. When you have become an expert at appearing like you are all together, its difficult to let that go, even if you really, really want to.
My hope is my admittance will be the start of something positive and hopeful.