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The 'Embarrassing' Symptom I Experience Because of Anxiety


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 741741.

Eating is a necessity, and for many people it’s something that is enjoyable and often brings a welcome break from their busy lives. But for me, I often find eating very difficult.

I started at a new school last September, and it took me a few months before I could bear to even get my lunch out at the designated lunch time. In those first few months, I managed to sustain myself by eating small bites of a sandwich when I thought no one was looking (although I could never finish it), or by eating small things like grapes. Often, by my last couple of lessons, my stomach would be rumbling so loudly that it sounded like a pending volcanic eruption.

To this day, I don’t know why I struggle with this when I’m anxious. I often find that my appetite can disappear very quickly if there is a trigger for my anxiety, which leads to me being unable to eat anymore until my anxiety subsides. I was with a friend a little while ago and we went to get food, because at the time I was very hungry. However, a couple of bites into my food, I felt a huge wave of anxiety wash over me, and suddenly it was impossible for me to eat any more. The embarrassment of having to throw away all that food was excruciating. To explain why, I merely remarked to my friend that I simply, “wasn’t a food person.”

But here’s the strange thing: I don’t know why my anxiety makes it difficult for me to eat.

I’m not afraid of gaining weight, or anything like that.

I’ve never had any traumatic news delivered while I was eating.

I’ve never choked on food.

I seem to be afraid that people will see me eating, but I can’t think why. My friend observed once to me that I eat “like a pigeon” — ripping off the smallest bites I can and quickly eating them as fast as I can, before anyone can see.

Maybe my ability to eat when stressed or in front of other people will develop as I grow in confidence, but for now, I’ll continue to eat in a pigeon-like fashion, and even though my friends may laugh with me and not at me.

Getty Images photo via fizkes