POV: You have an Eating Disorder During a Pandemic

So many things have been eye opening during this pandemic. Whether that be how shitty your friend Brad actually is, how racist your grandma Linda is, or how much you guilt yourself into not eating because you are fatphobic against your own body… all of us have learned some hard truths this year.

I bought this amazing journal [link here] and have been going to therapy. I do about 3 pages of the journal per night so I can reflect on what it is actually asking me to dive into [because therapy is great but it only works if you are doing work on your own to change that behavior]. One of the specific pages is about our external and internal scars. About 5 years ago I was bit in the face by a dog. During this time in the hospital and at home, I remember thinking, “well good, now I can’t eat so maybe Ill lose weight.” Looking back at that, it’s extremely fascinating [and sad] to me that instead of worrying about the actual broken and mutilated part of me, I was worried about my body and areas that were not broken at all. I remember not being worried about my face – and thinking that it didn’t matter because I was unattractive any ways. Because of my ‘high road’ attitude that came off to those around me or on social media, everyone called me brave, but really I was just self-loathing.

Going through this recovery and realization of my past eating disorders during a time of more isolation than usual has been interesting to say the least. I go back and forth on, ‘you are fine just eat, weight doesn’t matter,’ to physically breaking down in the shower or walking by the mirror because I hate my body. It’s even more weird having dysmorphia because I don’t actually know what i look like. Do I look overweight to my peers? OR do I look just average? Do I look fit? I have no idea. And to be honest I don’t actually care what others perceive me as, because I haven’t even accepted myself yet. Until I feel confident in my own skin [in regards to how I look, not my internal self who I am proud of] I wont give two shits about how others actually see me… I’m just quite curious on what others DO see. Doing my self journals everyday I have realized many things about myself. One was being raised to see ‘fat’ as ‘lazy,’ and how internalized fat-phobic of myself I am, but it ONLY extends to myself. I can see anyone else, large or small, and think ‘fucking rock it, kid. you look beautiful,’ but the moment that size is on me? I go into a spiral of self-hate. Now, I think this is pretty common. It’s an incredibly misogynistic world we have been brought up in. Men with zero medical degrees giving women a ‘talk’ online about how they need to eat less and move more without ANY consideration to hormones, depression, medical conditions or eating habits – is exactly how I got to the point of constant starvation during my bodybuilding days. My trainer was frustrated that I could not get below 155 even with eating all of the recommended macros, and kept taking calories from me. By the end of my training with him I think I was taking in 1150 calories, all protein, and about 15-20g of fat. This was trained in me that this was the right way to eat, even though doing that I felt a massive drop in strength while weight-lifting at the gym. To relearn all of these phobias I have learned from the fitness industry has been a task in itself.

My eating habits right now are better – but I recently reached out to my dietician for help for nutrients. I feel like I’m all or nothing. I’m eating too much or not enough – and I just needed some balance. I have hit my goal of 1640 calories a day for about 3-4 weeks which has helped me sleep more honestly and has me raising weights and reps in the gym again.

However to even discuss any of this right now, during this year, during this time, during moments where I have more pressing matters in the forefront of my mind feels strange and selfish.

So this is the real POV – facing an eating disorder and wondering about size during a pandemic and during the time I am going to lose a family member. I am now addressing this constant issue within myself but it’s not new. However, to talk about this during this time in my life feels.. so small and insignificant compared to what my family is facing. On top of that, during this pandemic, you have others barely making rent, being evicted, not eating at all due to finances, out of work, and people dealing with loss. My family is going to be facing loss [again] soon, and COVID seems to be mutating in the world [lovely]. All of it is perspective, yet it still doesn’t truly diminish the problems we face ourselves. There is always a victim scale when there shouldn’t be. Like perspective is a beautiful thing- it does show you that you have it pretty good when others do not, but then we silence ourselves, making our small ‘problems’ amplified down the road because we never addressed it. I never addressed my eating disorder because it wasn’t AS BAD as other people, and I never looked underweight – my body never allowed me to get super thin because of my hypothyroidism, but also because my body began to store fat to protect me – so I thought it was okay. Now that disorder controls every level of happiness I have in my life; my self worth, my marriage, my friendships, my ability to let loose and have fun – everything. This is why sometimes thinking about life in only perspective and not in validation can be harmful.

Sometimes talking to my therapist feels redundant because I just know I am smarter than this. I know the fitness industry profits off of women feeling miserable with themselves, I know self worth is not linked to body weight and I preach all of this to my clients. In the back of my mind when I’m speaking to her I still wish I could lose 20 lbs, I still am connected to my physical appearance – but none of this is new, I’ve felt this way since I was 15 years old. I also am extremely vocal about my struggles so that’s why it took me so long to seek therapy. I have learned many scientific things about my thoughts and why I have them through her, and sometimes her questions stump me about my goals and how to achieve them. There are questions I have to ask myself when I start to feel grossed out with my own body, like, ‘does this thought negate or help my goals for my life?’ – and those types of questions do ground me – but still don’t stop the self hatred and will to 180 my eating habits and go back to how I was. In time with practice and re-learning old habits i will get there- but right now I’m addressing issues as well as I can.

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