I’ve always had a bad relationship with food. From a young age my mother use to tell me that I should finish my dinner because there were children starving in Africa. Out of guilt I would eat all of my food and anything left over by my siblings. As a result I grew to be on the chubby side.
It was not until my mid teens, when I started to feel my life was being controlled, my food relationship took a bad turn. My mother was making decisions for me that I wasn’t happy with and as a reault I started to starve myself. It was a way of taking some control over my life while rebelling against my mother. My teenage hormone driven need for indepenance soon developed my food relationship into an eating disorder.
(16 year old me at the early stages of my eating disorder.)
Throughout my teens no one ever mentioned an eating disorder to me. I was increasingly getting thinner and being tall I was very lanky. It was mentioned a few times by family about how I was too skinny but it was only a passing comment. I choose to be vegetarian, further restricting my food intake, and skipped breakfast and lunch every day. No one noticed.
As I hit my twenties I started to notice that I didn’t look like the men in the magazine’s and my little podgy belly suggested I was fat. I became obsessed with it. I was convince of it despite there being so little fat on me. I started to hit the gym daily in an attempt to gain a six pack whilst still restricting my food intake. I had gone back to eating meat to gain the required protein I needed to bulk up however it wasn’t working. But of course it wouldn’t. I had development a food intorlance to yeast which made me feel sick most of the time. So now I had an excuse to be sick.
Cutting bread out of my diet and regularly making myself sick had my weight drop again. I should also mention that throughout this period my weight was frequently fluctuating from high to low.
At my worse weight loss point I was taken briefly to hospital. I had picked up a bug, as my immune system was in a terrible state, and within one month I had lost 3 stone.
For those of you that have been following my blog you would know that I suffer from long term mental illness and so have been in and out of therapy for a long time. Speaking to my psychiatrist at the time about my eating habits had no impact on my treatment. They brushed it off as an eating discomfort, as I didn’t like the word disorder, and left it at that. I was given meds for depression and left to it.
I wonder now if my psychiatris ever considered that men could have eating disorders.
After a while I stopped making myself sick. The pain was to much and I was feeling too weak to do the things I wanted too. So I ate, not because I liked eating but because I had too. Besides I had other issues to deal with. My depression, anxiety and OCD were taking up so much of my time I struggled to think of anything else.
One summer I was hit with my worst episode of mental illness which found me bedroom locked for 6 months. I couldn’t deal with the world so I shut myself away to cry and eat and sleep. During that time I put on so much weight that I still carry it today. It was from that point that my overeating habit developed.
My relationship with food has never improved even though I don’t starve myself or make myself sick any more. I do however still restrict what I eat with the occasional binge eating, the shame of which is hard to deal with. I have yet to regain full control of my life so I take charge of the things I do have power over. For everything else I just get frustrated. At the moment I am counting every calorie I eat in the hopes to lose weight and one day be slim again and maybe considered handsome.
It is a wonder how something that was designed as a control factor became a form of self punishment and body appearance obsession. With so much media showing men with ripped bodies and gyms popping up on every corner it is no wonder why I often feel inadequate in my appearance.
(Me, May 2018)
I’ve taken steps to get help. It’s time for me to do something about this. One day I hope to be content in how I look and have full control over my own life until then I will keep struggling on.