Christmas can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, whether it’s based around celebration, religion, spending time with family or those family traditions — but to me, it’s a time of fear, stress, being triggered by the slightest of things, and the yearly tradition of crying during dinner and the family fallout after it as a result.
In my household, we seem to surround ourselves with food at christmas: the advent calendar treats, attempting to sneak chocolates off the tree without anyone noticing (by putting the foil back on), and tucking into those Cadbury selection boxes a family friend always seems brings round (and add to the pole of chocolate).
Then it’s Christmas day itself: the morning treats, tucking into snacks of sweets from our stockings, then it’s the meal itself (the pigs in blankets, the massive helpings of vegetables and other items piled high on our plates). The rest of the day is drinking wine, munching away on whatever is left from the morning, and dinner before sinking into that drunken or overfed slumber in the evening.
But this, to me, is hell. It torments me and haunts my every waking thought throughout December.
As it gets closer and closer, the voice of Ana (anorexia) gets stronger and stronger until it starts to haunt my every moment, dreaming of what I used to eat during this time, what I miss, what will happen if I do go and eat the things I used to enjoy so much, and the shame/guilt of losing that control.
Ana goes into full-blown overdrive during this time. It gains even more of the control it craves so much. Every trip to the shops is an opportunity with shelf after shelf of treats (chocolate, biscuits and cakes) for her to tell me no, I can’t have this or that for fear of losing that control and gaining weight.
The insightful me doesn’t want this battle with myself all the time. I don’t want to be full of anxiety when that box of celebrations comes around while we’re all watching an overplayed Christmas film on the TV. I don’t want to make people wonder why I don’t take any. I don’t want to try and make excuses to avoid dinner. I don’t want to struggle with trying to eat small mouthfuls of vegetables — only to feel guilty, ashamed and like I’ve gained a million pounds as a result.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.
Some family members and friends say it’s only a day — a day when I can try and be free from anorexia and enjoy the things I used to eat (and crave so much), act without fear around meals or snacks — but it’s not as easy as just flicking a switch to turn the voice off, or the feeling off, or the fear off.
It’s the panic about going away from safe foods, my routine, and the fear of the voice of Ana making me second guess everything, leading me to the wrong conclusion and taking well-meaning comments the wrong way.
I guess with time and progress with my recovery, I can try and enjoy this time of year and eat everything I used to. But for this year, that won’t happen.
Image via Thinkstock.
A version of this post originally appeared on Blueeyedfoxie.
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