Dear All of You,
I (age 15) keep writing and deleting this. Completely scrapping a letter isn’t the same as editing, so it doesn’t count.
The first letter was about bingeing. The second letter was about using escape as a way to cope.
They were just so long and rambling and unfocused because it’s now 5am and my brain is fried.
Summary of letter 1: I am bingeing a lot now. I don’t like it.
I want to find a balance: not restricting all food or bingeing on everything in sight.
I went on to blame eating disorder treatment for being unable to do this (I love blaming people). Warning: I’m bitter and going to overgeneralize things to favor the point I’m trying to make – that this is all their fault and I’m not responsible for anything.
Treatment programs were mostly geared towards people recovering from anorexia.
Getting someone with anorexia who is “excessively thin” to be OK with living in a “normal-sized” body is like getting a “normal-sized” person to be OK with living in an “obese” body. If they think that they’re “fat” or that what they’re eating to sustain that body is “bad” food, or “too much,” then they are having disordered thoughts. (Quotes because everyone has their own definitions. This includes myself, depending on what age I am).
There was always a lot of tension around the girls recovering from anorexia. Eating for quite a few of them was literally about life or death. They were constantly monitored to make sure they were eating everything and that their vitals were stable. At meals, they would get words of encouragement and praise for every bite they choked down. They would talk about eating food and gaining weight with tears in their eyes and everyone would tell them how brave they were. (Seriously, I hate myself for writing that – but I’m very bitter. Those girls were brave and incredibly strong and I am so happy for them when I actually step back from my self-centeredness.)
A lot of what I learned in treatment is applicable to binge eating, but other things aren’t.
While the other girls were being pleaded with and prodded into eating, while they were choking on food they didn’t want to eat, I was glowering at the end of the table having finished five minutes into the meal after shoveling it all into my face – and I wanted more. I wanted to eat everything, anything, all of it. I didn’t get the same attention or praise or encouragement. While food was being forced upon them (by their standards), I was being deprived of it (by my standards).
I felt like a big ugly monster around a bunch of delicate flowers.
There is a lot more to go into: body acceptance, for example. All weight gain was treated as wonderful because we were finally growing into our natural bodies. Except tons of weight gain from bingeing is not the same as tons of weight gain because you’re actually eating food for the first time in forever.
Food diversity was another. Eating nothing but “junk food” day after day is not the same thing as a person who’s only eaten “rabbit food” for years to slowly begin incorporating “real people food.”
I can use all those arguments for anorexia recovery to justify my bingeing.
I can downplay weight gain and instead talk about accepting my body for how it naturally is as I swell up to a huge size. I can talk about eating a normal diet that includes everything as I gorge on sweets and fried food.
And on the flip side, I can resist normal eating with those same arguments.
I can say that it’s all eating disordered: wanting to lose weight is bad, wanting to not eat as much is bad, not wanting to eat certain things is bad.
But I don’t want to heft around this huge body that doesn’t fit into anything. I’m always tired and sweaty and sore and groggy. I can’t move around, I can’t sleep.
And I don’t want to eat this much. I don’t want to eat until I can’t move, can’t breathe, can’t sleep. I also want to eat more “healthy” food and less “unhealthy” food so that I don’t always feel so crappy all the time.
That’s not disordered. That’s normal. What I’m doing now is disordered. If what I think is “normal” gets out of hand, it will become disordered, but right now it’s not. I don’t think.
I just have been trained time and time again to not trust my brain or my thoughts.
I’ve let other people define reality for me because I wasn’t deemed fit to do that for myself.
I’m just so tired. I want to go to bed. I don’t know if this letter made sense but I just need to submit it so I can sleep.
Please look into ED treatment stuff more. Eating is so grey, nothing black and white.
Someone from AA said that recovering from an eating disorder was like an alcoholic having to drink a glass of wine (just one tiny little glass) a few times a day.
You can’t quit food like you can quit alcohol or drugs. I can’t tell you how much I wish that was true sometimes. It’s just so exhausting to have the whole disordered experience around food multiple times per day.
And I’m exhausted so I’m ending this now. No more, I don’t care if I just ended that really abruptly.
Fifteen (age 15)
I didn’t even get to the second letter. Maybe do that next time. It is so incredibly late. Now almost 6am.