|>||This post talks about bodies, my eating disorder, and food. It deals with ideas and thoughts that I struggle with. If you are in active ED recovery, I don’t suggest reading it.||<|
I have an eating disorder. It’s something that I’ve been coming to terms with over the last year or so. It’s a label that I still don’t always feel comfortable with.
Don’t get me wrong. I like labels. (Okay, maybe I love them.) They help me sort my life and the things in it into neat little boxes. They help me explain what I’m going through — they help me find peers and the resources to help me. But this one isolates me.
I don’t fit in with the eating disorder community. My Binge Eating Disorder (BED), while the most common eating disorder, is often not what people think of when they hear ‘eating disorder.’
The public doesn’t think of bodies like mine; they don’t think of problems like mine. They picture emaciated women with anorexia or bulimia, not an obese woman just praying to feel better — or to feel anything else — and using giant amounts of food to do that.
Emaciated women with anorexia should not be the face of eating disorders. Eating disorders are as varied as their sufferers; did you know that the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 — the standard for diagnosing mental illnesses) lists eight eating or feeding disorders?
Yet, here I am, feeling like an intruder in the community that I need — the very one that I rely on for my recovery. I’m tired of feeling alone, like my eating is a personal failing, or like my body makes me less worthy, and I need my community to help with that. Being around others like me has already helped enormously.
Every week, since January, I’ve been attending a support group for BED. I love that group, and I really care for the people I’ve met in it that have wonderfully supported and inspired me. It is a space where I feel truly accepted as a part of the community and that has been so incredibly powerful for me. My support group has helped make me more comfortable expressing myself and speaking out about my eating disorder, and even more, they have inspired me to try and learn to accept my body the way it is right now.
But as soon as I step out of that room and into the rest of the building housing the eating disorder centre, I feel like an imposter. I’m too afraid to join any groups other than the ones geared very specifically towards binging.
My eating disorder feels less valid because of my weight.
Because my eating disorder is ballooning me and killing me slowly, it feels less important and like it’s not really an eating disorder. I’m petrified of what others in an eating disorders group would think or say about me and my struggle because of the way I look. Even more, I’ve felt them judging me and my body.
After my group last week, I stood outside chatting with someone. One by one, as the other groups let out, I watched people walk out, with bodies smaller than mine, and it felt like every single one looked me up and down — it felt like they were questioning why I was even there; I don’t belong.
One of these things is not like the others. One of these bodies is double the others.
A woman I really respect once told me, “When they look at me, I can feel that my body is their worst nightmare.” And our bodies just might be their worst nightmares. And it’s stopping me from fully accepting (or maybe embracing) my eating disorder.
I feel like even within a community where I’m meant to belong, it’s divided into ‘us’ and ‘them;’ that our bodies somehow dictate our struggle or that they preempt what opinions or experiences we may have.
And I’m as guilty as the next person. I know that something gross, dark, and ugly inside me sparks up when I see a body that I deem ‘better’ than mine. That vitriolic part of me doesn’t trust their struggle. My most basic, reptilian response is that they are encroaching on my space. My space where my body is okay — not great, but okay. Skinny people get the rest of the world. I have that one room, once weekly, for less than two hours.
The reality is, they have no idea what it’s like just trying to live in a fat body. But I don’t know what it’s like in a skinny body. That grossness inside of me wants to yell that it’s easier, but I don’t think that’s fair.
Maybe I’m imagining the divide, but I doubt it. And I can’t stand feeling like an outsider in my own community.