When You're a Pregnant Mum Struggling With Anorexia
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.
I have mentioned just recently on social media that I am struggling with my changing body in this pregnancy and I was overwhelmed by the lovely, kind responses I received from people. I was so grateful for these and it did make me smile and feel loved. It did not, however, change how I feel about my body. Now that is not a criticism to all the lovely people who commented, this is just a subject I feel I need to talk about and share.
Being a mum and pregnant while struggling with anorexia must read like a very odd title to many, but it’s my life right now. Living with anorexia, as I have for most of my life, is an awful experience. I may have times where it takes a back seat and I might feel less obsessed with my size, shape or calorie counting, but it will always be there lurking in the background. It never really goes away.
When I was pregnant with my son I put on weight. I did this because I was told by everyone — professionals included — that this was completely fine to do. That is what pregnancy is about — eating whatever you like — and I didn’t need to worry because I was slim so I would ping right back again after the birth. What a dangerous bit of advice that I stupidly listened too.
I felt like I was free from this crippling eating disorder for a few months and I could eat as much crap as I wanted because I was going to bounce right back to the same figure again! This obviously didn’t happen.
I was absolutely mortified when, after six months from me giving birth, I still had weight to lose. My anorexic behaviors came flooding back and I began to restrict heavily, skip meals, take diet pills and exercise until I was completely exhausted. As my little boy got older, I would be feeding him fantastic home cooked meals, but not myself. People would make comments that he would develop and eating disorder if I carried on, but I never believed this for a second. He has always been a very good eater and not fussy at all.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.
These comments were not what bothered me at all. The turning point for me was when I couldn’t summon the strength to play with him properly. He has always been super active and not the kind of child that likes to sit and watch TV, but I was seriously struggling to do any of the games he desperately wanted me to play. I can still see the disappointment in his face and it breaks my heart. But I changed. For a few years I was OK — running and playing and crafting. Whatever he wanted to do, we did it. Pure bliss.
That is until pregnancy number two. I was fine for the first 20 weeks. I did not really give food much thought other than the usual, “What’s for dinner?” But as of month five, things began to change. My body was getting bigger — and not just my bump. I have gone up a dress size, which I know will seem like nothing to many people reading this, but to me and my anorexic brain it is terrifying! I have proudly not restricted my food, I am eating healthy and doing light exercise.
The scary part for me though, is after the birth. I know my mind will no longer see any reason why I am this size and immediately change. Restricting food and food groups, daily weigh-ins, calorie counting and lots and lots of exercise. I have done the right thing and expressed these feelings to my psychiatrist, who unfortunately offered little support. I was told to contact him after the birth if there was a problem.
I think that being a mum is a difficult job, but having an eating disorder like anorexia makes it seem near impossible some days. You are battling with the fierce and powerful thoughts of losing weight, hitting your dangerously low weight targets, but at the same time, trying to hid it all and be a great mum to your child(ren) whom you absolutely adore! I have said it before, but I truly believe that my son saved me. He is my absolute world. He is what I live for and my next little boy will be exactly the same.
Please stay safe.
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