Geezus. Am I right?
There is a set of stigmas attached to having an Eating Disorder. You must have no self-control, be vain and hate yourself. You must not “get it” or love suffering. You must’ve had terrible parents or were abused growing up. You must have no sense of self or identity. You must hate being alive or like pain.
It is such a big deal and has so much attached to it for so many. The biggest being the shame cycle and that is how it affects me the most. I can speak at least to this part. I can also speak to how I found a way out through yoga.
I started controlling my intake of food when I was about 8. It started because my father and my grandmother and then society made my looks an issue. I don’t blame them or harbor feelings it is just what happened. I love them both anyway. This is what often happens with EDs in my experience, the person with the disorder is carved from a person/people with another disorder. In my case, my father was insecure (because of his fathers power struggle as an immigrant trying to look american), my grandmother was a bully (because of her mothers alcoholism) and society was bored (because that is the mess we’re in).
I started out as an anorexic, I would go days without eating and would often be surprised that my family wouldn’t notice. This led to pretty intense
feelings of loss, and grew, over time, into a real disconnect between my body and my spirit. That part made the space for self harm because when you feel like you don’t matter, it doesn’t matter what you do to yourself, or to others. I figured out socially acceptable ways to limit my eating and after some years suffering, my father got sick and passed away. That was the turning point for bulimia and me. I started throwing up casually-if you can imagine that…and then it became a weekly occurrence, turning into a daily occurrence and eventually landing in a multiple time and day mess. I never binged though; I was unique that way with the hybrid disorder of anorexia and bulimia.
I wasn’t going to stop but, I got caught one day, by a boy I was dating. I will never forget that moment. He asked me what I was doing. I had no answer. By that point I had developed a panic/anxiety disorder from being malnourished for so long and couldn’t think or really remember anything that happened. I could barely communicate and had pains all the time. Joint and muscle spasms, migraines and blurry vision. I was living off of coffee and cigarettes and sometimes hummus from the dive bar that I worked at. It was a sad life but it fueled my ED so I kept it around. I suffered for almost 20 years with an ED of some sort, even typing that makes me shakey.
I was unique in that I had a hyper awareness of the damage and growing up with the disorder I let it change to fit different situations. I used it for comfort and I let it entertain me instead of cultivating friendships or embracing my passions, which made it even harder for me to understand the disorder at first. The issue is connection. I needed to learn connection in order to stop. To cause self-harm to the body, mind and spirit like that is disconnect between you and your true self. That boy was the initial push and then I found my way back independently through yoga.
Yoga taught me to connect to the body with mindful movement and I came to realize that I was worthy and that I could be of service and matter to the world as a healer of people that suffer from patterns of self-harm like I had. That is where I am now, trying to be a lightning bolt of positive change and a catalyst for others that suffer needlessly. Because that is really what it is – A needless suffering.