Trigger warning: This post includes explicit descriptions of eating disorders
I’ve had eating disorders since I was a kid. They have changed a lot over the years and for a long time I thought I had left it behind me but it turned out I hadn’t. I deal with it better these days than I did for a long time but still, the other day the truth hit me so hard: It’s still there. I’ve been telling myself and other people that I used to have eating disorders but that I don’t have it anymore, but that’s not completely true.
My relationship to food is so weird that it’s too difficult to explain it here, but I tend to bounce between the urge to overeat or eat way too restricted. I resist these urges a lot, but I still have them. By now, with around 30 years of living with an eating disorder, I know a lot about how it works for me. No matter if my eating disorder is telling me to not eat at all/eat very restictedly or if it’s telling me to overeat, it’s acutally about the same thing: the reward that takes the edge off the constant overwhelming.
I’ve been in an ED treatment but it didn’t really help that much and I think the reason is that it never dealt with the fact that I’m autistic and it’s very connected. Because no matter what my ED has looked like, it has always had an element of trying to deal with being so overwhelmed all the time. There are just too much emotions, too much sensory input, too much hyperactivity, too many thoughts, too much pain and too much confusion and fatigue for me to deal with. My ED has been a way to prevent meltdowns or deal with them when thy have happened.
Because no matter if I starved, ate extremely pseudo-healthy (because it’s really not very health at all) or overate, binged, compensated (worked out very hard and long or threw up), it was all about trying to prevent being overwhelmed (some sort of starving) or deal with it when it had happened (overeating, binging, working out very hard, throwing up).
These urges have also always to some extent been about me feeling like I’m about to fall apart from the feelings I don’t understand, like the social confusion I’ve always experienced. The sense of reward that these behaviors have given me is something I rarely experience in other aspects of life, because even though I can get praise for things I do, I seem to fail so miserably at being a human. My way of being human is wrong, according to the world around me and unfortunately, I believe it.
This has obviously very much to do with me being autistic but it’s connected to something else as well, however, that’s too complicated to write about. I just tried but decided to not bring it up in this post because it’s too taxing and I don’t know how to explain it. Maybe in another post.