Thursday 20 October 2022

My Day With Anorexia

By Mike Parker | Date 20th of October 2022

One day to my amazement, a psychiatrist told me she thought I might be anorexic, extremely thin and refusing to stay at a healthy weight, but was not going to institutionalise me because I showed a commitment to gaining weight.  I was amazed because I went to see the psychiatrist about being depressed!  I rebelled greatly against the suggestion I had an eating disorder (ED) because it made no sense to me.  ED are what girls have right? How wrong I was! ED can affect anyone and usually starts in adolescence.  For years, I carried on without recognising the signs and even put on a lot of weight because others would insist that I eat something.  Once I got away from these people, I went back to my old ways and started to feel better.  Yes, that is right, I feel better when I am either starving myself or underweight. 

Types of ED

  • Anorexia Nervosa (AN)
    • Restrictive subtype
    • Binge/Purge subtype
    • Atypical
  • Bulimia Nervosa (BN)
  • Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

I will write more about the different types in a later blog.  However, I will cover my day with AN as accurately as possible from beginning to end.  I will include behaviours and feelings around food and people. 

How the day starts

I wake up feeling sick. I do a body check, check my stomach by feeling it.  At some point I noticed I could feel my ribs.  When I finely do getup, I weigh myself with dressing gown on and then naked.  This part of my day will determine what the rest of the day will be like in both actions and feelings. If the scales are unkind, I will go into an emergency action plan becoming very motivated through a sense of anguish.  The plan will involve strict restriction of food and an exercise plan.  In addition, I will examine yesterday's food and actions to see where I went wrong.  In the end, my mind concludes that if I keep exercising, I will end up putting the weight back on as soon as I stop.  This leads me to justify even stricter restriction of food.  This feeling that I must restrict even more is exasperated by the feelings of fatigue and aching muscle. For breakfast, I have a coffee because that will help kill feelings of hunger. 

How I structure my day

I will have to keep myself distracted until 5pm when I will allow myself to eat.  There are several ways that I use to do this:

  • Praying.  This will involve genuine prayer using the Holy Rosary.  When deep into a fast, it makes me feel closer to God.  Praying is offered to God instead of eating so praying happens at mealtimes.
  • Brushing my teeth.  If I am hungry, I brush my teeth to stop the feelings of hunger.
  • Exercising.  I will go out for a walk or cycle for hours. This has the added benefit of burning calories too.
  • Housework. This is also a distraction technique. 
  • Volunteering.  If I volunteer all day, I can usually go without eating without anyone noticing. If they do notice, they typically think I am fasting and know it would be rude or improper to ask me if I were fasting.
  • Social media.  I find people with mutual interests (moots) and interact with them.  Typically, for encouragement or comfort. 


Weighing myself and body checking

I keep a set of scales next to my desk while I go about my day in the house so I can weigh myself if I feel the need.  I will weigh myself sometimes up to 4 or 5 times an hour, but typically 5–6 times a day.  Key times for weighing myself first thing in the morning, after a workout or after eating.  Sometimes I weigh myself to check if the scales are still working; I can't believe the weight is so slow to come off.  

It is the same, more or less, with body checking.  This will involve checking in the mirror and grabbing at my belly fat, which is the focus of my concern.  In addition, I might measure my waistline and record it in a diary along with my weight, food intake and exercise.  However, I will avoid measuring my muscles because I know I will not likely have any success in that area and I just can't face the failure.  While I am examining my self, I sometimes feel that I am getting fatter right before my eyes!

If I have put on any weight at all or even if my weight has stayed the same, I will be disappointed and even hate myself.  This kind of disaster will invoke a massive workout and or more restriction of food.  When I was younger, I would hate on myself no end telling myself to be more quiet and not react to anything.  I would do things, stupid things, that made me feel stupid and I would do them out of fear or anxiety because I was worried about what people would think of me.  As an adult, I learned not to hate on myself, but to calmly face the problem and do what I needed to do to solve it as good as I can.  This is why I have an action plan to lose the weight and not hate myself calling myself hateful names.  


How I determine what and how much I can eat

This depends on how much weight I have lost.  The more weight I have lost the more relaxed I become with the banned foods list I hold.  Chocolate, for instance, is on the banned list.

Some foods I never eat because I am a vegan and this is for the animals and nothing else.  My banned list is food I would eat or could eat if I was not fasting. 

The banned list for example includes:

  • Chocolate
  • Fast food
  • Burgers
  • Pizza
  • Chips
  • Fried food
  • Cream
  • Syrup 
  • Cake
  • Crisps
  • Biscuits

Food on the unsafe list.  

  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Pasta
  • Potato
  • Banana
  • Bread

Please remember that the lists are not exhaustive and my change depending on new information. 

To start, I examine what I have done in the day and decide if I deserve to eat something from the unsafe list.  If I have put on weight, the answer is going to be no.  If my calorie count goes over the allowed limit I have imposed on myself, I look at removing unsafe food from my meal plan.  Sometimes, I can be really hard on myself.  Unless you have an eating disorder yourself, you have no idea how distressing weight gain can be.

The role of the cheerleader in my mind

As odd as it might sound, I can feel the presence of something giving me goals and cheering me on.  It is like some sort of suggestion in my mind that leads me to these actions.  I am not saying that it is present all the time. Just sometimes.

How the day ends

My day ends with one final examination of my body as I lay in bed.  Before this, I do the regular bedtime route of washing and brushing my teeth.  I look forward to cleaning my teeth because it will likely take a way any feelings of hunger nagging at me.  If I am lucky, I will get straight to sleep.  If not, I will be awake and maybe online looking for support to hold the hunger at bay.  

Why do it? 

Several reasons spring to mind.  While I am fasting, everything else is on hold.  I can't think about anything else but food and losing that weight.  It prevents unwanted thoughts from entering my mind and causing me distress.

Getting into trouble

  • Injuries
  • Failing to keep jobs
  • Broken relationships
  • Social media

Injuries. I have had plenty of injuries due to over exercising or exercising with too much vigor.  I have hurt my back, neck and shoulder.  Once I even almost lost my front teeth due to exercising in the middle of the night. I chipped my tooth but it could have been a lot worse.  

Failing to keep jobs. I have lost jobs because I would take too many days off usually because I was too exhausted or depressed, but sometimes to workout at home or go to the gym. 

Broken relationships.  The most common complaint is that I don't let people in.  Perhaps this is because I would never even entertain the idea that I might have and eating disorder.  Covering up my eating habits is exhausting.

Social media.  I have been banned from many groups for being too open and honest about my eating and sometimes I am accused of encouraging it. 

Hope you liked my blog.