On May 19th, 2015, I called 911 for the first time because my roommate couldn’t stop puking up blood and after spending approximately 15 hours in the ER with him, I didn’t eat for the next 2 or 3 days.
This is a blog about food, and my strange love/nope relationship with it. Love because I feel very passionately about certain foods and enjoy eating, nope because my immediate reaction to stress, anxiety, or being busy is skipping meals or full days worth of food.
The whole roommate thing from my *shocking* intro sentence was an extreme case, obviously, but it definitely highlights a large and troubling pattern of behavior, and because this is my blog and I need to stop writing exCLUSIVELY about web series and filmmaking, I decided to explore it.
An obvious place to start with this whole discussion is my weight. It’s a lot. There is a lot of me, because I guess at some point I decided my outside needed to match my inside, and on the inside, I am a loud fat girl. This is not a point of pride, but it’s also not something I’m ashamed of, at least not as often as I used to be. Because there’s often a punishing aspect to my not eating (as in, I use it as a punishment to myself for not being productive enough/not having my shit together), there’s no way it isn’t at least a little bit tied to my being overweight. If I was thin, perhaps I would have a different method of punishing myself, but I am not, and it would be a lie to deny a connection between the two realities.
I think it’s also likely connected to my dislike of going to the bathroom. I’m not gonna be graphic, but even the quickest visit to the restroom is a disruption to my workflow. I have to pee right now, but I’m on a roll with this blog and I refuse to get up and deal with it because what if I lose my momentum? Eating is the same- it requires me to stop whatever productive thing I’m doing and take a break. You could argue that’s a good thing, that everyone needs a break once and a while to recharge and practice moderation, and you’d be right, but have you MET me? My entire personality and lifestyle is centered around my being productive, and things that do not meet my broken brain’s criteria for “productive” are often discarded in service of meeting an arbitrary and likely self-assigned deadline for something.
It also has to do with control. I don’t know if you’ve figured this out about me yet, but my greatest fear is losing control. I’ve never done or even tried drugs, I dislike being truly drunk, I have about fifteen in-progress to do lists at any given moment, and most of my anxiety stems from things I cannot change or do anything about. While I don’t have what would qualify as an eating disorder and most days I can remind myself to eat regularly, one of the defining features of eating disorders is control, and being able to exert control over yourself. You may not be able to control the way your body reacts to food and exercise, but you sure as shit can control whether or not your meat sack is allowed to consume calories. For me, I think it’s less that I’m exerting control over my eating habits, because on a good day I can overpower my extreme dislike of putting a halt on my productivity in service of a sandwich, and more that I’m exerting control over my life and schedule. By not eating, I am making an active choice in my life that other things are more important at the moment, or if my broken brain decides I’ve been bad or unproductive, I can control my own punishment to incentivize not “failing” again.
To be clear: this is not a good system. In fact, you might say it’s a bad system. I didn’t really think about my forced fasting before that whole ER scare, but it got to the point where my other roommates set timers on their phones to text me throughout the day to make sure I’d eaten something recently. In that case, it wasn’t exactly a punishment and more a reaction to the extreme stress I was under, worrying that my friend was going to die and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. Control, see? I was out of control, unable to help past what I’d already done, so I defaulted to controlling my eating habits. The hunger kept me sharp, kept me awake, kept me available to my friend should he need anything.
So what am I going to do? Well, the first step is acknowledging you have a problem, so, check! Continuing therapy would have been useful, but that’s out for the moment because insurance is dumb. If I’m being really honest with myself, a big thing that would help is forging better eating habits and being an overall healthier and more fit person, because perhaps an absence of body dysmorphia will make it easier for my broken brain to justify meal breaks. Also, I hear that your mental health soars when your physical health is in check. Who knew?!
This isn’t an easy or straightforward process, but I’m a 25 year old adult woman and if I don’t get myself in check, mentally and physically, it will only get worse from here. Challenge accepted.