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The Painful Exhaustion of 'Hiding' My Eating Disorder

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So, in my last post on here, I wrote about the importance of telling people about your eating disorder and letting them in so they can help you in recovery. While I still believe that and while I have many friends and family who know, there are still a lot of people in my life who don’t know. I have also found myself hiding my true feelings and struggles from those who do know.

What does a day look like for me? First off I want to start by saying that most of my day revolves around food, what “can” I eat, when can I eat it. A meal must be planned at least two hours before. I can’t go somewhere without knowing where it is and what is on the menu. If I am cooking a meal, I must know what I am cooking earlier in the day so I can plan the rest of my day around it. Now this doesn’t sound normal, or even good, and I admit it isn’t, but compared to where I was a month ago, even a week ago, I am making progress and slowly recovering. What I am trying to get to is that many people with eating disorders are exhausted, mentally and physically. Physically because we may not always have the energy and mentally because we may spend the entire day thinking nonstop, going over different scenarios, adding up foods, making decisions here and there about whether we can handle exercising or if we can handle eating a certain food. And while that is hard and tiring, that isn’t even the worst of it.

For me it is after eating that is the worst. What most people in my life don’t know is that after every meal, no matter how small, I am instantly nauseous. Most of the time I try to eat alone so people don’t notice it so they don’t see how immensely painful and uncomfortable it is. I feel like a failure each and every time, yet it still happens. So, after meals I find myself sitting on the bathroom floor, the tub, right outside the door, etc., where the battle begins. My head goes back and forth, the ED telling me I am not good enough, and I’m not fit enough, and that I need to throw up. I have too much fat and not enough muscle, I don’t look like other guys, I don’t have a girlfriend, therefore something is wrong and I need to fix it.

Then there is this other voice. It’s a lot quieter, but I try to focus on it. It tells me I am worthy and loved. It tells me not to rush in life and things take time. Sometimes this voice is logical, reminding me I have only had one meal that day and I need the food. Reminding me I ate well and my body feels good.

Imagine the toughest decision you’ve ever made. Now imagine that happening two to three times a day. Imagine it lasting for up to two hours at a time.

By the time the day is over I am so exhausted I just want to fall into a very deep sleep, however just because I’m tired and need sleep doesn’t mean my brain or my eating disorder agree. Most nights I find myself lying awake continuing to fight and argue with myself. Going through the next day, deciding what I’ll eat, when I’ll eat. If I’ll exercise. I sit and plan the entire day out, then re-plan and re-plan.

That is what a life hiding an eating disorder is like, and I hope for the day when I can go to sleep and wake up without arguing with myself, without trying to convince myself.

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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Thinkstock photo by demaerre

Originally published: February 6, 2017
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