Dear Person in my Life,
I have an eating disorder. I use food to cope with emotional stress. I use food as a way to avoid awkward or uncomfortable situations. I eat mindlessly.
I have been a disordered eater for a very long time. I always thought that it was just because I lacked will-power. I wasn’t trying hard enought to stick to a diet. I wasn’t eating the right foods. I wasn’t exercising enough. I was a failure. I wasn’t worthy of being thin.
This all probably started around the time I was healthy and happy and didn’t think about food. Until someone maybe pointed out I should. Or maybe the media did. Or maybe it was one of several stressful situations in my life I couldn’t handle.
But you thought I was handling everything fine, because I always ‘stayed strong’. I was always positive. I always pulled through.
The only thing that made me appear strong, determined and composed on the outside, was the fact I would eat when no one was looking. And eat, and eat. But it pulled me through whatever it was that was going on. It could have been something as simple as a store clerk making an off-hand comment, to dealing with the death or sickness of a loved one.
Having an eating disorder is not about food. It’s about emotions. And not dealing with them in a healthy way. On many levels it’s similar to being a drug addict or alcoholic. But it’s not as easy to avoid food. It’s always available and necessary to life.
I am a super-feeler. Even small things make me feel big emotions. Good or bad. So that little comment you make, that you think is a joke, may not be interpreted as funny by me. I care deeply, I love deeply, I feel pain deeply, I hurt deeply. It’s exhausting.
I can’t use food to deal with this anymore. I want to be healthier and more active. I want to be able to chase my daughter around, play in the snow and do so many things.
So, I’ve started getting better. I’m seeing a therapist who is wonderful. I’m learning how to be more mindful in my eating and all the things I do. And I have gotten much better at not using food to cope.
Until I didn’t. Without turning to food, all these emotions are crashing down on me. Some days are good, others aren’t. Everything feels like a chore. Everything seems to stress me out.
I’m following the Intuitive Eating principles. I eat when I’m hungry, I eat what I want, no food is forbidden, I pay attention when I eat and listen to my body. I stop when I’m full. If I slip up, I don’t beat myself up over it. I have rejected the diet mentality. Diet’s don’t work. Don’t talk to me about dieting or that this food is bad for you and that one is good.
I’m working on getting better, but I can’t do it alone.
I need you to understand what I’m going through isn’t easy. I can’t just pick up and move on. I need a break. I need to find myself again. I need to figure out what I want and how I want to live.
I don’t need suggestions. I don’t need recommendations. I just need support.
I need you to understand that I’m under a lot of stress, and that I may say or do (or not say or not do) things that are not about you, or what you just said or did. I am learning new ways to react to situations that cause me stress. And it may be as simple as you making a comment about the weather.
Please be patient with me. Please be kind. Please just love me as you do and understand I love you too regardless if I may seem like I don’t.
I just need time to get sorted and find a new way to deal with everything. It is not going to be easy and I’ve only just begun.
I love you.