I’ve been really struggling with food issues over the last while, the last few days in particular. Christmas is usually an easier time for me food wise, but there is a difficult aspect to it all too.
I love that at Christmas it becomes the norm to indulge and eat as you please, but this means that there is loads of food around at all times and I feel overpowered by the presence of it all. It’s everywhere – in the fridge, in the cupboards, on the table…I can’t escape. I feel like this most days anyway, but at Christmas even more so.
Fridges completely overwhelm me. My preference is an empty fridge, or to use it as a holding place for a day or two maximum. A fully stocked fridge is the stuff of nightmares for me, and over the festive season it is constantly fully stocked. Just yesterday I was in floods of tears at the thought of having to open the jam-packed fridge yet again. All that food rammed in to a small space, all the smells, all the foods that I can’t stand, all the pressure to eat it all before they go off. And freezers? They’re just as bad. It’s so easy to shove something in the freezer and not have to deal with it, but then you’ve drawer after drawer stuffed to the rafters of half eaten packs and food that’s been there for a lifetime. To make matters worse at the moment, we have been all but stranded for the last fortnight thanks to all the flooding, so the couple of times we’ve made it out we’ve had to really stock up meaning the cupboards are bulging even more than usual. I feel constantly panicked, fragile, and upset. I don’t want to be in the kitchen, I don’t want to have to think about eating, and I just want all the food gone.
I’m also struggling with the fact that I have to eat what’s in the house and not be able to choose. I know it’s a bad habit, but I generally eat by what my tastebuds fancy in the moment. When I’m forced to eat whatever’s available I begin to feel trapped and helpless. Just writing this is making my hands tremble and the tears swell in my throat.
There have been a number of times since moving to Ireland in 2013 that I’ve had an emotional breakdown over the food situation. I say since moving to Ireland because there are a lot of binge foods that I loved in England that I simply can’t get here. I didn’t know that was going to be the case, and I haven’t coped well with it, and then I fell pregnant and HAD to eat as healthily as I possibly could, which completely broke me. So although I have overeaten frequently, I feel like I haven’t binged properly for almost three years.
For the past year I have eaten almost nothing but junk and takeaways. To begin with it felt amazing, but I soon felt just as trapped because the weight was piling on, I was spending ridiculous amounts of money, and I just didn’t want to be controlled by the eating disorder. Then we moved house and I managed to break the cycle, but after ten weeks of no takeaways I am fast spiralling down into despair once more.
At the moment I’m eating crisps, and chocolate, and pizza, and burgers, and all the things by most standards, would be considered junk, yet I’m still feeling wholly unsatisfied. I have limited choice and control over what I eat at the moment. Due to us being stranded my other half has done all the food shopping so far. I wrote a list and they know the things I like, yet I still feel like I’ve no freedom, no flexibility. If I want to eat I have to eat what’s here, not what my brain and tastebuds are telling me to. It sounds so indulgent and selfish when there are people who don’t get to eat at all, but remember, this is an illness, there is little rationality involved.
So much of having an eating disorder is about control. Desperately needing to control one aspect of your life because everything else is in turmoil. Wanting to make choices for yourself because so many things have happened to you that weren’t your choice, weren’t your doing. My life is no longer as tumultuous as it once was, but I’m still trapped by the eating disorder, and still haunted by food. Everything about having an eating disorder is as dark and harrowing as the most severe of addictions.
I’m dreading the New Year approaching when everything is about diet and eating healthily. Since ‘clean eating’ became a buzz word I’ve felt even more of a failure. When I used to eat better (even if that was only better for me rather than better compared to the norm) I felt some sense of accomplishment, but now, it doesn’t matter what I’m eating, there’s someone somewhere telling me it’s bad for me. So now, it feels like even at my best I’m still going to be completely failing.
I try to open up but people tend to say ‘just try this’ or ‘this worked for me’ and I feel even more alone and useless. If it was as simple as ‘just’ doing anything most mental disorders wouldn’t exist. And it’s great if you’ve found something that works for you, but don’t preach it to others as a magic cure. I am battling this every day, and at the moment I’m losing the battle, but I’m trying my hardest, I promise.
Right now I honestly feel like I am losing my mind. I’m an emotional wreck, I’m all but literally clawing at the walls, I can’t think straight, I can’t function properly. All because I have to go into the kitchen at least three times a day, open the fridge several times, and feed myself and my child at least three times a day. I’m past breaking point. I want to shirk all responsibility, hide under my duvet, and either binge or cry until I can’t feel anymore.
I just want it all to go away so I can be free.