Last week when I was thinking about this blog I thought I’d share a little more about myself. Get a bit deeper. I thought I’d talk about about the weird relationship I have with my body. More specifically about having an eating disorder as a teenager. I’ve spent the last week or so writing down everything I remember about it because it was 25 years ago.
A lot of it is jumbled up because I don’t remember the whole thing. I have snippets. Kind of like when you’re drunk and you wake up and only remember bits of the night before. I don’t know if it’s time, poor memory or my brain is protecting me from trauma but I just don’t remember everything. If the story jumps about please be patient.
The first thing I remember is needing a ladies size 16 tracksuit at some point in high school. I was a big kid. I never worried about it because what I looked like never really mattered. Never the less the size of my tracksuit was a big deal. Like “I’m not buying you any more clothes it’s too expensive” (I use quite because it is one) kinda big deal. I also went on my first diet about that time so my tracksuit wasn’t such a big deal.
Now my body shape has always been very similar to it is now. Big shoulders that got bigger when I started swimming butterfly. My body is build for being strong and doing strong things……and I had massive boobs for a teenager. Everyone I knew and went to school with as far as I could see didn’t have a body like mine and they all wanted to look like the girls in the Billabong ads or like a model. That was never going to be me so even on a diet the goal I was aiming for was off.
Around this same time I remember I was starting to be called stupid and fat at school. Me being the person I am just assumed if I proved I was neither people wouldn’t say that and they’d like me. So, I worked my ass off to drag myself from the lower classes to the top classes even in maths which I sucked at. All I did was study. I wasn’t stupid anymore and I had the actual marks to back me. I thought I was so intellectual and became a bit of an insufferable smart ass really. That just left fat. The more weight I lost the more I was called fat the more weight I lost the more I was called fat. Repeat in a deafening loop. It was mostly boys and a few girls that we’re supposed to be friends that said it. I was certifiably boy crazy and just wanted one to notice me and like me back. Looking back now I was the desperate clingy nutcase you’d tell your sons to stay away from. Fair call but I also had NO clue how to deal with people. Not even a single idea.
I digress. Back to the not eating.
I stopped eating lots of things. Most of the things really. I don’t remember exactly what I did eat either apart from drinking lots of Diet Coke and chewing juicy fruit. Years after I recovered I still couldn’t bring myself to eat Mars Bars and potato chips. I still won’t drink whole milk if I can help it, put sugar in my coffee and I don’t put margarine on sandwiches 25 years later. To say it messes your brain up is an understatement.
Anywho I was getting skinnier. I didn’t look like the anorexic girls in the stories in Dolly or Girlfriend because I had boobs and hips. I also remember being asked by my Pop who was really sick at the time to eat food for him since he was on a medical diet and could have those things. I think I don’t think I did though. I also remember being told not to be so silly or strict and eat but in my head I was doing a good job because people stopped calling me fat.
At some point I found a calorie book. Quite literally found it somewhere. I began to obsess on the calorie count in food. What was in what brand and I could work out the serving suggestions and how much I could have like a demon. I even fished it out of the bin when Mum threw it away one day. I was trying to survive on 1200 calories a day which is literally don’t drop dead on the spot levels. Now to me I thought I was a ninja at hiding it. I found out years later that there had been meetings about me I knew nothing about.
I think at that point I was 51kg at 5’9” (175ish cm). I did get lower a couple of times but what that number is, isn’t important and will remain a secret. The one thing from that time I vividly remember is walking home after having gotten off the bus and having my vision go wonky. The horizon literally started tilting left to right and going fuzzy. I wasn’t frightened but I knew it was bad. I don’t remember much after that but I do know I don’t pass out. I think I ate but food I knew was ok.
I don’t remember my recovery. I remember I started eating again but I don’t know why. I think I may have promised Pop. I do have a vague memory of promising someone I’d eat and he’d be the the most likely person who could do it. I also don’t remember how long this whole episode lasted for. A year, months, I don’t know but I remember it was a thing. I remember it fucking me up and forever changing how I look at food and how wary I am of diets. I’m actually now shit scared of losing weight.
It didn’t stop there because then I became bulimic which I was much better at and will get its own post because this is long enough as it is. Sufficed to say be careful when you call sensitive people fat and teenagers are cruel.