You Don’t Need a Label

I’ve heard countless times people trying to place a specific label on their issues, specifically when it comes to eating disorders. They’re not as black & white as the world would like to think they are. It’s not bulimia, anorexia, EDNOS, binge eating disorder. No, they’re so intertwined into the personality, and the personality isn’t something you can place neatly in this cute little box. Neither are eating disorders.

“I go days without eating.. but then I eat and eat. I must not have anorexia”

“I binge and purge. But it’s not all the time. Or sometimes I don’t purge but I kill myself at the gym. Does that make me bulimic or not?”

“I eat normally. I don’t throw up, but I can’t stop using laxatives. What does that make me?”

“I can eat my whole kitchen in under an hour. But then I don’t eat for days to control my weight. Am I anorexic, bulimic or something?”

Do you want to know what I’ve learned? It doesn’t matter the label. If you have an eating disorder, you have an eating disorder. It’s just my opinion but you don’t need that neat tiny label place over it and frankly I don’t understand why labeling something like this is “needed”. Maybe it’s more socially acceptable, maybe it’s an indicator for your friends and loved ones so they can “”understand”.

Sure someone who doesn’t get out of bed for days can easily be labeled depressed. Someone who attempts to take their own life can be labeled as suicidal. Someone who hears terrible voices in their head that compels their behavior can be schizophrenic. Someone who has manic episodes followed by terrifyingly dark depression can be bipolar. And for the longest time as I was in treatment, I would wonder hours on end just what labeled category I was neatly placed into.

But as I said, these disorders are so far from a simple label. I don’t know about everyone else, but my symptoms can switch like the seasons. I restrict, work out til I pass out or my muscles get deprived of oxygen that I have no choice but to stop. I eat more, but make sure to take laxatives until I lost the weight “I must have gained” that day. It’s not black and white, in fact a lot of the time those living with eating disorders live in the grey areas, and yes it can be frustrating as hell.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you have symptoms of an eating disorder that control your everyday life, you have an eating disorder. There shouldn’t be this added pressure to fit into a category identified by the DSM-V or professionals diagnosis. Nobody fighting like hell for their lives everyday don’t need that added pressure.

A disorder, mental illness or addiction are just that no matter what they look like.

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Nagging Little Voices

I am plagued by voices.

Not the ones you hear about on televisions

Not the ones glamorized in movies.

They don’t propel you to fame.

They don’t land you book deals or make people interested in you.

They keep me trapped inside my room

Gnawing at my ears and clawing their way up my spine.

“You’re not good enough”

“You’ll never get where you want to be in life”

At first, I was strong.

I knew they were just illusions of my mind.

The pessimistic and self-deprecating side of my personality.

Yet now….

Now I’m starting to believe them again.

“Just stop trying.. you’re not going to make it anyways”

These aren’t the voices that attract others my way.

These voices isolate me from my best friends.

They make the touch of my boyfriends hands sting like daggers

They tell me he is just going to be like everyone else.

“It’s only a matter of time before he leaves you. Nobody stays”.

When did I become so weak against them?

When did I let my guard down just enough for them to climb their way over?

How did I not see that they were always lurking outside of the barrier I placed up?

These parts of life are not glamorous

These are the things we keep at the bottom of our discussion pits.

Things too shameful to tell therapists, friends and family members.

The things that keep us bound to our beds like slaves being brought to America in chains.

And you still like to glamorize the sick?

Comparisons & Competition

**TRIGGER WARNING**

Whoa two posts in one day?! Someone must have course work to do or something that she’s putting off!

So here’s what’s up for tonight: my “schema” as the professionals where I used to go to treatment n therapy call it, is fucking up a lot of shit in my life.

Example #1: Comparisons

I was up at the mall getting an upgrade on my phone, when this woman and her mother walked in. It took one look at the both of them to trigger me, to want so desperately to look like they looked. They were tall, skinny as fuck and I was jealous. I was with my parents when I saw these 2 and in the most sick way I was fascinated by them. I wanted to know how they can get away walking around like that, how they got to look like that. The poor guy at the store probably thought I had A.D.D or some shit because for the life of me I couldn’t stop looking at these people. It’s totally fucked up right? I was talking to my mother today about it, how I was jealous they looked like that and I was forced to “restore” weight. But here’s the most fucked up thing: I didn’t see them as looking sick, I saw them as something I wanted so badly to look like. My mother said they looked like they belonged in a hospital or treatment center, that they didn’t look healthy but they looked really sick.

Example #2: Competition

My dad is on this mindset lately to lose weight. Please don’t get me wrong it’s not a distorted eating disorder thought or something, he needs to shed a few pounds because he is overweight. So for the past week or so he’s been asking me for help and tips on how he could lose a few pounds (triggering as fuck? Yes. Completely moronic on his part? You betcha!!). So I’ve been genuinely trying to help him in the last triggering ways I know how (disclaimer, it’s still triggering to me). Yet I find myself, again like with those two in the phone store, completely jealous of my father and the fact he is allowed to lose weight.

It’s totally fucked up, but even when he’s trying to eat right, I find myself having this sick sense of accomplishment whenever I see he is eating/has eaten more than me. Even when my mom eats normally, it’s so sick that my eating disorder thoughts get all jazzed up that it’s “winning” the eating competition in my house. Like, there’s no fucking competition even going on here! The voices always have to win, and winning in my head is being less. Less weight, less food, less calories consumed.

I really fucking hate having this mentality come wedging its way in my life again.

Fuck. You. Eating Disorder. Thoughts.

Body Dissatisfaction Amongst College Males

shutterstock140181568Featured Image -- 342Hey guys so as the title hints, I want to talk about something I have been noticing on my colleges campus lately. Maybe it’s because the nice weather has finally arrived (it’s about damn time too!), but over the past couple of weeks I’ve been noticing a lot more males on campus have been making comments about their appearance and it strikes me as interesting.

As you know I talk a lot about eating disorders on my blog, and I must admit I am guilty of aiming it towards young adult females probably because I am one (if you didn’t know that, now you know.. See you learn something new everyday!). But as some of you may know, when it comes to body image, body dissatisfaction and characteristics socially associated with eating disordered behavior, males tend to be placed on the back burner so to speak.

I was in class the other day and this guy was talking to his friend sitting next to me about how he was working out in the campus fitness center. He said something that struck me as odd, yet sounded all too familiar as I often say something extremely similar. He mentioned something to the effect of how he hates working out on treadmills because of the bars on both sides meant for balance if you were to lose it mid-work out. He went on to say how he feels confined in them because his “fat ass” is too large for the space provided on the machine. Now, sitting two seats away from him I heard the whole conversation between him and his friend, and I must say I was in awe. Looking at him he was the furthest things from fat. In fact, from appearance alone he looked pretty damn normal to me. But I knew how he felt, as I struggle with my body image on a daily basis (it’s the biggest mind fuck when it comes to maintaining recovery from anorexia, at least in my opinion).

Yet his comments really made me start thinking, and I realized that males too struggle with this more than we as a society like to realize.

Research has shown that variables such as family pressures and self-esteem levels contribute to a poor body image in males (Palladino Green & Pritchard, 2003). I also found on the National Eating Disorder Association’s website that in recent years, when a survey has been given to men the findings researchers come across is that body image concerns across the male population has dramatically increased over the past 3 decades from 15% of males being dissatisfied with their bodies, to 43% (https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/statistics-males-and-eating-disorders, 2015). This means that almost half of the male population in the United States dislikes something about their physical appearance.

Heart breaking isn’t it?

It’s true that disordered eating habits and distorted thoughts about ones physical appearance doesn’t discriminate against gender, age or race. I wish more people would start speaking out for males, as the stigma of being dissatisfied with your appearance is strictly taboo for the male population. Hell, it’s hard enough for the female population to talk about eating disorders, and males have an added societal pressure on their shoulders of being “manly” or “macho”. So I can only imagine what it’s like for a male to feel like his body looks wrong, yet can’t openly talk about it. Things need to change people!

References

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/statistics-males-and-eating-disorders

Palladino Green, S. & Pritchard, M.E., (2003). Predictors of body image dissatisfaction in adult men and women. Social Behavior and Personality, 

The Real World & My Distorted World

**Possible trigger warning**

How does everything come back around to my eating disorder? As far as recovery goes, my mindset lately has been anything but recovery based. It’s frustrating as hell for me that I’ve been having such loud eating disorder thoughts the past month or so (god that’s such a cliche eating disorder treatment thing to say.. I apologize for that), and as the stress of life escalates more and more I find myself “not having time to eat” or simply being way too busy to eat breakfast or even a snack before leaving for class. It’s not too glamorous might I add. But like I said, everything fucking thing is coming back down to my eating disorder and I hate it.

If I do shitty on a test or quiz, I resort to counting calories again or simply not eating. I’ve talked about it in therapy tons and I know the reason I do it is because I know in my heart that without a doubt I am great at my eating disorder. How sad and pathetic is this? Call it a Type A personality, but my perfectionism has always gotten the best of me in life and as I’m fully in my life now it’s reared its head again and it couldn’t come at a more inconvenient time.

As I write this I know of everything I have going for me but when I lay my head down at night or am stuck in my head throughout the day, none of these things seem as promising or even significant as compared to things like my weight, how I look that day or other stupid and exhausting thoughts I have. That’s right, it’s fucking exhausting living in my head.

Even my relationship with my boyfriend is impacted by this stuff. I love spending time with him, but every time he touches me all I can wonder is what he really thinks of my body. My therapist would tell me he’s not even thinking about the things I’m thinking he’s thinking about but that feeling of disgust scares the shit out of me and when we’re together and doing things that couples do, I don’t enjoy any of it because I’m so inside my head. I don’t know if he even realizes that I’m not present and that I’m in some fucked up world where the staple in my stomach comes undone and he can see what I feel I really look like.

I always thought that after I got out of treatment I’d have a better mindset and things wouldn’t be this difficult. I knew that the day I got discharged from treatment that I wouldn’t be fixed, but shit y’all I at least thought I’d be able to manage my recovery in the real world and was strong enough and had enough of those lovely CBT skills that were drilled into my head, to be able to manage life stress without slipping down that slope that only leads to being sick.

Life thou art a heartless wench.