Having an eating disorder is often like living a double life. One in which I am a functioning member of society, viewed as perfectly normal and completely sane. The other is the secret world in my head, that I can’t escape, that is anything but sane.
I am an over eater. I have been for years and years. So many years, that now at 36, I can’t really pin point when it started, how it started, or much about it.
As far as I can tell, some point during adolescence, my other mind was born.
At first I gained a lot of weight. I was a fat girl for quite a long time. Not because of the overeating in and of itself, I was just really lazy and ate poorly. Eventually I learned to eat better and I found a love for exercise. Exercise really changed my life. I lost a lot of weight and the mood boosters kept the anxiety, depression and general helplessness at bay. So much so, that many times in my life I have thought that THAT was behind me.
That I had some how beat my other mind. The one that gets so overwhelmed. It completely shuts down or (more likely) wont stop suffocating me with anxiety, fear, sadness and helplessness. I can’t stop those feelings from washing over me, from drowning me. So I do what it wants. The only thing that will make it stop. I eat, I eat and when I can’t eat more, I eat. Until suddenly I am full. So full, that the emptiness can’t get me. That deep cavern inside of me is so full of food that it’s abated. For another day.
Being usually within a few pounds from a healthy weight and nowhere near obese, when I finally owned it out loud, it is was hard to find support. I find most people don’t believe me, so I don’t really talk about it. I’ve talked about it on my blog a few times without much response. Not from strangers and not from the few family and friends that know about it. To be fair, what is it they could do? Nothing as far as I can tell.
I gave a half hearted attempt at joining OA. (That’s Overeaters Anonymous) I “went” to some online meetings and phone meetings. It REALLY helped. I want to go to a meeting IRL, I want to do the work. The mind that’s functioning and in control most of the time isn’t there yet. It’s easy to talk myself into believing that I don’t really need it.
I’m fine. I’m mostly fine. Maybe I’m over it. It’s been weeks since I binged.
Always weeks, sometimes months, and then it’s just now.
I live a double life. One where I function and I’m sane, and one where I’m not.
Enedina St. Sebastian is an Early Childhood Educator, Mom and Blogs at Mom With Her Running Shoes On. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, their rambunctious toddler and mean cat.