I have been thinking about this recently. Where did it come from? I suppose as a child I was always a tomboy, and didn’t look forward to the idea of being an adult and having curves. I was almost scared of the idea of becoming a woman with breasts and big hips. I became overweight in my mid teens during my first bout of depression. The chasm I found myself in overwhelmed me. I needed something, anything in my life to pull myself out of this hole. So I resorted to eating. I’d always enjoyed food, but chocolate and crisps had been a treat, not a way of escaping. But escapism is what I was in desperate need of. During those couple of minutes of eating I could forget the penetrating emotional pain I was experiencing, and concentrate on the smells, texture and taste of the food I was eating. I would hide crisps and chocolate wrappers around the house, because although for an instant I felt better, the guilt I felt afterwards compelled me to hide the evidence. I became more and more aware that I was gaining weight, and so did others around me. I started eating bigger portions at dinner and was forever picking at food. I would become incredibly upset when someone told me I had eaten enough, and that I should stop now. It made me feel like my obsession with food had been discovered, and I had been caught out, that made me feel horribly embarrassed and defensive.
I was bullied at school because of my weight. A group of boys would laugh at me and tell me I was disgusting. One day this group were walking behind me, talking about a rumour that a girl in our year was pregnant. They shouted over at me,
“Is it you, you fat bitch!”
I tried to ignore them , but I couldn’t. These boys would oink and bark in my face as they walked past in corridors. It shattered my self esteem, that I had been gradually building up whilst recovering from severe depression. What they had said and did stayed with me for years. I lost the weight over a few years slowly and healthily. Ever since my weight has fluctuated and I have never once felt comfortable in my own body. I look in the mirror and I see something awful and grotesque staring back. My husband, family and friends say there is nothing wrong with the way I look, but I find it difficult to believe. I analyse every word said about my appearance, and every look that comes my way. I walk down the street and obsessively compare myself with other people, and say to whoever I’m with,
“Do I look like that? Am I that fat?”
I’ll see my reflection in a mirror and feel like I’m going to burst into tears with how incredibly huge I am. I’ll exclaim,
“Fucking hell I’m huge! I’m a whale!”
I’m in a constant battle with my own mind. There is a part of my mind that never stops torturing me, that never lets me fully relax in my own body.
Everything started to unravel during a period of time when I had lost a significant amount of weight. I felt good, still not liking what I saw in the mirror, but saw it as an improvement. Then I decided to have the contraceptive implant. Bad choice. My GP didn’t mention the side effect of serious weight gain and I put back on all the weight I had lost and more in just six months. I felt disgusting and felt physically sick living in my own skin. Wanting to tear out all the fat I could feel from my body, I began to binge. As I’ve already said, bingeing was how I initially put on weight as a teenager. Eating a chocolate bar, a bag of crisps; it was emotional eating and I felt better for a couple of hours until the regret and guilt crept in. I never purged though. I had a phobia of vomiting so would never have dreamt of doing such a thing. As an adult though, life was different. I had grown out of the phobia but the guilt and regret of bingeing remained. So I began to purge, in secret. It was a horrible ordeal to begin with and I often wondered why I was bothering to cause so much damage to myself. But then the threat of more and more weight gain loomed and I continued the ritual. It began to take over my life, and I started to purge regular meals, in a desperate attempt to be able to live within my own skin. I lost weight drastically, but was still deeply uncomfortable.
I’m managing and trying to recover now. I’m hoping to see a psychologist when I can pluck up the courage. I’m still in a place where I don’t believe I’m deserving of help. Hopefully this will change, but I’m not putting pressure on myself for my thoughts to magically switch.