My Disordered Eating During the Holidays, as Told By 'A Christmas Carol'

Around Christmastime, I have noticed struggles with disordered eating tendencies have a strange similarity to the famous Christmas story, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.

Ebenezer Scrooge – a grumpy, lonely and stingy being, is once again alone on Christmas eve, and although I have been fortunate enough to never be alone at Christmas, eating disorder thoughts have other ideas.

My eating disorder would love for me to be alone. It would love for me to be cold and cheap, living in the dark. People getting together for a family get-together and giving gifts just seems so overwhelming, too unknown and so far out of reach when my eating disorder is in control. Like Scrooge, my eating disorder likes loneliness, frugal living and darkness.

So what would it be like to be visited by three ghosts? The past, present and future?

For myself, the ghost of Christmas past would take me to old Christmas parties. To laughing with friends and family, enjoying mince pies and Christmas dinner. I would see myself and my brother sharing my neighbors homemade mince pies and relaxing with a good Christmas movie.

The ghost of Christmas present would take me to my gran’s house, as she worryingly asks my family how I’m doing. I would see my Christmas dinner that I can barely taste as my mind is so busy reminding myself it is OK and allowed. I would see my friends having mulled wine while I try to join in before leaving early. I would see myself only watching half the movie because I just didn’t deserve to relax for too long. I would see every present making me feel guilty and sad. If Tiny Tim was my inner Christmas spirit, he would be fading and getting sicker and sicker.

The Ghost of Christmas future would be — as it is in every Christmas Carol adaptation — terrifying. It would say nothing and be so distant. It would put a cold bony hand on my shoulder and show me a glimpse of the future. Would friends have continued to invite me to events if I never went? Would I have had enough energy to reach milestones and have shared memories with people? Would I have been able to meet someone to share my Christmas with, and maybe even have a family of my own? Or would I have faded into the background, just like my eating disorder would have wanted?

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.

Luckily, just like Scrooge, I can wake up. I can still have opportunities to make a difference in my own life and fight this. It’s not a simple matter of running around spreading Christmas cheer, but I can start to remember that I am worth the fight to recover, to enjoy not only Christmas, but my whole life again! Starting with re-kindling my Christmas spirit — and enjoying picking out my favorites from the chocolate selection box!

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty image via pecaphoto77

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Eating Disorders

Back view portrait of a female student walking in the city park outdoors

Why I Left My College Athletics Team for My Mental Health

I had never been a “quitter.” This label was tough to swallow, but I knew there had to be a difference between quitting and choosing to making a change when life felt out of control. As a transfer student, I moved to Ann Arbor the summer before my sophomore year and joined the women’s rowing [...]
eating disorder recovery on scrabble letters

The Reality of Eating Disorder Recovery and How I Get Through

Fresh into my recovery — after my last stay at Eating Recovery Center in Denver several years ago — I had many expectations of what successful recovery was supposed to look like. I also had many rules for myself regarding what my recovery needed to look like to actually be “true” recovery. Initially, I came [...]
new year's resolutions on notepad sitting on wooden table

6 New Year's Resolution Ideas for Eating Disorder Recovery

Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741. In the past, my New Year’s resolutions had always been subconsciously decided by my eating disorder. They focused on my appearance, my diet or numbers. Therefore, when [...]
thoughtful young woman in warm sweater with blurred christmas tree on background

What I Really Want for Christmas as Someone Struggling With Anorexia

Christmas can seem impossible for those struggling with eating disorders. It’s a time that is often focused on overindulgence and rich food, swiftly followed by the January diet hype. Not to mention the numerous family meals with family members who may or may not know, understand or be supportive. It’s the season to be jolly, [...]