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

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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?

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.

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Getty image via pecaphoto77

Originally published: December 20, 2017
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