Externalizing stuff

So I’m just going to put this out there – I think I am on the cusp of developing an eating disorder. Or suffering from some body image disorder. Or maybe, instead of labeling it a disorder and trying to self-diagnose, I am just going to say this – when I realized I had gained a significant amount of weight in the last few months, I instantly felt intense disgust with food and any thought of eating.

I was able to catalogue the reasons why I knew this was “wrong”:

  • academically, I wrote pages and pages of essays about body image and the media
  • socially, I surround myself with intelligent humans who are unashamedly feminist
  • rationally, I know I have recently switched birth control and also suffered an injury that makes me less mobile; both reasons for why I could have easily gained this weight
  • emotionally (and maybe egotistically), I like how I look (most of the time) and I know that I am more than my weight and appearance
  • and so on, and so on…

Going through these reasons, I became even more ashamed of myself – not just of my weight, but the concern over it. I don’t think words like “fat” or “plump” are bad words, or bad physical qualities. Despite all this, the thought of eating anything made me feel sick. I had no appetite and I could not rationalize my body into feeling hungry.

It made me feel like shit and I wanted to cry. As much as I wanted to talk to someone, I also felt guilty. I didn’t want my friends to know I was feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t want them to feel the need to compliment me and tell me I’m beautiful the way I am. It felt very much like an insignificant first world problem. I am very open speaking about my depression and anxiety, but for whatever reason, this made me feel ashamed.

Mom and Dad, if you are reading this – I know I can talk to you guys anytime. I love you both. This was just one of those moments I knew there were specific friends I needed to speak to. And I’m glad I did. They reached back with love and support but knew to skip the compliments and go straight to the practical and emotional advice I needed.

Paraphrasing the advice that I’ve been finding useful:

  • eating small snacks and choosing foods that have positive effects on my body and mind
  • buying a few new clothes for the moment, so that I don’t feel hatred every morning towards my body for not fitting into clothes I could wear last year
  • reaching out and externalizing my “low points”
  • developing a routine or habits rather than expecting to change eating habits overnight
  • focusing on exercise as means to improve my mental health and just general well-being, rather than a means to lose weight
  • accepting my low days and crappier feelings, but also thinking of my body as a friend (I wouldn’t be friends with anyone I dislike or find disgusting)
  • eating as an experiment (rather than focusing on hunger and health as abstract thoughts, focus on how foods make me feel or how they taste)

Just like depression and anxiety, I don’t believe I have found an absolute cure for this feeling, but I do at least have some tools at my disposal for coping with these emotions and concerns. Me posting about this is one of those tools. I didn’t want to post this whole thing on Facebook, and my end goal isn’t to attract followers or readers, I just wanted this out in the public in some form or another.

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