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The Eating Disorder Thoughts That Still Haunt Me

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I’ve recently started opening up publicly about my struggle with anorexia. Going public about it has come with a lot of challenges. In some ways there are a lot more eyes on me know. People know that I have a history with anorexia and therefore they are now more likely to notice things. Knowing that has been very challenging for me as it makes me feel like I need to be “good” all the time.

However, eating disorders don’t always go away, even when you have been recovered for a while. And while most of the time I am pretty healthy, there are still days where the eating disorder mindset takes over. There are days where my mind is just as sick as it was during the years I was at my worst.

In an effort to try and help the people around me understand that, I described in very brief detail what the thoughts in my head are like when I’m having a “bad” day. On the days where I feel suffocated by my eating disorder, this is what I’m thinking about:

I wake up and my hands automatically travel to my ribs and collarbone.
I can feel them protruding. I immediately breathe a sigh of relief. Today will be a good day.

I go brush my teeth. I look up at the mirror.
I see my sunken cheeks. I feel the tension leave my body. Today will be OK.

I get dressed. The zipper easily closes around my waist.
There’s extra room in the waistband. A small smile plays on my lips.

I should be getting ready for work, but first the scale.
I quickly step on the scale and see the number has dropped. I already feel lighter.

I get to the office. I’ll have coffee.
I’ll have it black, no sugar. I like it better that way anyways.

Lunchtime rolls around. I should eat. I shouldn’t eat.
I’m already doing so well today, do I really want to ruin that? A salad, I’ll eat a salad.

Suck in my stomach. Don’t let them see the fat.
The salad makes it hard to suck in. I’m busting at the seams. Stay behind the desk so no one notices.

I get home, it’s 6 p.m.. Time to go back to the scale.
I step on the scale. The number is higher than it was this morning. Everything is ruined. I feel like a failure.

Dinner time. Everyone is sitting at the table waiting for me.
Don’t panic. Just take small bites and drink a lot of water.

The guilt is overwhelming.
You just had protein and vegetables. No carbs, I remind myself. You did a good job.

But no food would have been better.
I never do it well enough. I’m not strong enough.

I go to sleep hugging my ribs, making sure they are still protruding.
Tomorrow I will wake up and have to start over.

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.

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Unsplash photo via Ben White

Originally published: January 7, 2018
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