By Anon, illustration by Rachael Smith:
Note: Originally published on Empathize This and republished here with their permission.
There’s a sense out there that everybody knows everything about eating disorders. The jokes are everywhere. Celebrities are accused of being anorexic or bulimic all the time, and those disorders get used as scapegoats for larger problems. Most people don’t credit them as something more than ‘weight issues’.
But eating disorders aren’t just about weight. They are mental, too.
I’m recovering from an eating disorder. People think because I don’t purge (anymore), I don’t suffer. They don’t know about the relapses. They don’t know that I don’t feel like my (low) weight. People think eating disorders are for ‘skinny bitches/thin girls/model wannabes’, and some people throw bulimia and anorexia jokes and statements like they mean nothing.
It’s difficult for me to eat and not think, “I may throw this up.” I always think it.
It’s hard to put on a pair of jeans and think, “If it doesn’t fit, I’ll purge.”
It hurts when people tell me, “Just exercise.” I do. It doesn’t help my body image.
I don’t do it to feel pretty or thin either. I do it because I’m afraid of rejection, that people won’t like me if my body changes, and I feel like I’m huge. I compare myself to people all the time, and I feel so much wider and thicker.
As I said, I am recovering. But recovery is a process. There are always the thoughts that run around, unbidden, in my head: “You look disgusting, you should purge. All that food you ate makes you unacceptable, do something about it, because exercise takes too long. You’re not worth your weight, so shed the pounds because you’re worth less.” I am always, always afraid that people will judge me, the way I judge myself.
Even when I eat healthily, I still have the need to just remove the food I just put into my body. It’s how I make myself feel good – feel good about myself. It’s how I live my life. I don’t purge as often, but I feel scummy because of it.
Most people find vomiting disgusting, and hate when they do/have to. I accept it, I want it. I want to vomit, I want to purge, I go lengths to do it. I am a girl, and I hate going to the washroom with others because I want my privacy and I’m embarrassed, I get nervous when I do it in public washrooms, because I’m afraid of what people think.
I notice eating disorder-related jokes more than others. I notice the insults more. When people say, “she/he is so fat, they need to vomit/ I bet she’s over a toilet to get there/ he didn’t always look like that he’s a bulimic,” it hurts me. Maybe “he” is, and hearing that, is terrifying cause it’s a huge secret you don’t want people to know. Maybe “she” is always over a toilet, and maybe she isn’t. Bulimia isn’t something you just throw around. And wanting someone to vomit is wishing so many physical repercussions on a person who maybe does not have an eating disorder and still has a healthy chance.Eating disorders are about far more than superficial looks.
They are real problems that many people suffer.