I’ll be honest, I’d never even heard of EDNOS until someone told me I had it. ‘Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified’ to be exact. I remember reading through the symptoms online in an article and each bullet point hit me like a bucket of ice water as the realisation struck that I’d been living with an actual condition. Until then I suppose I’d been in denial about what I was doing to myself, although I’d be lying to myself now if I said I still wasn’t trying to deny to myself what I have, or even what I have become.
For almost half of my life now (9 years – on and off – to be exact), I have spent each day in fear of being overweight; getting fat terrifies me and I will do whatever it takes to ensure it does not happen. I don’t think I can remember a time I was ever happy with my body which is sad but true. I’m not happy with it now but I’ve gained some progress in that I can accept to myself I probably won’t ever be happy with it for as long as this voice of ambivalence goes on in my head as I continue to let it (EDNOS) rule my life.
I was always overweight growing up and when I reached age 13 I was a chubby young girl with massive insecurities. I was bullied for most of my childhood, mainly over my weight, and I hated the way I looked with a passion – but never did anything about it. I can’t really pinpoint what changed in my mindset but something did and I suddenly did not want to eat and wouldn’t. Weight shed off over the months and I was literally going through each day managing what was probably a forkful of pasta followed by feeling horrendously sick at the thought of having anything more. People started to notice at school and someone must have told a teacher because she phoned my mum and then I was monitored at home for a bit with what I was eating. I can’t really remember this period of time well but the worst part was all my thick lovely hair falling out over time and I was left with thin hair (which I still have to this day) and a big bald patch on the back of my head. I remember walking down a corridor at school and people murmuring behind me that I was bald and must have been making myself sick – I don’t think I was being sick often at this point but there was probably a fair few times.
Anyway, that went on for some time and then around age 15 I got into a relationship. As most people do in relationships I let myself go, I stopped starving myself and began over eating – so another bad relationship with food began and I piled back on the weight I’d starved off myself, as my metabolism had obviously dissolved into nothing. I was in this mess of a ‘relationship’ for over 4 long years with a man who turned out to be incredibly manipulative and emotionally abusive, adding to my own negative imagine of myself as he poisoned my mind with insults and statements which I perceived to be nothing but the truth. Finally breaking free of his vicious cycle was the best decision I ever made and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t. But anyway…back to the point.
I can remember the day I ‘relapsed’ back into EDNOS as my addictive behaviours surrounding calorie counting and starving myself began again. I was once again obsessed with being thin and wouldn’t stop until I was. But I was never happy, the less and less I ate, the less and less I weighed, it was never ending. The day I clicked back into this cycle I was 18 – I’m now 22 and I’m still in it. The difference now is I have been in an incredible relationship with my partner for 2 and a half years – he is without doubt the most amazing thing to have ever happened to me and I would be lost without him. He keeps me going each day no matter how fed up I feel with myself and it pains me to see how much my controlling behaviours surrounding restricting food and losing weight are affecting him.
So this is where I am today. For 2 years of our relationship I hid from him that I was calorie counting and lying about having a big meal before seeing him when in reality I hadn’t eaten all day. I was in a spiral of lies to him and myself as well as everyone else around me. He knew about my previous history with starving myself but because I’d become a master of lies he had no idea what was going on. I’d started making myself sick again, I’d been binging and then starving, day in day out. I count every calorie that enters my mouth and I can’t help it. The next day if I’ve eaten what I consider to be too much then I wake up feeling horrendous and plan what to do that day to ensure I don’t get fat. If I can’t feel my hip bones each morning or night I feel like shit and I get angry with myself for eating whatever I have that has produced this fat which means my stomach is no longer as flat as it once was.
It all came out one drunken evening 5 months ago as I broke down and told him and my parents what I’d been doing and what was going on. Naturally the next day I was embarrassed and wished I’d never told anyone so I could continue on my journey to thinness – but he was my rock and got me a dietitian that put me on a meal plan. I have stuck to this plan for a few months but have recently dwindled off and started back with my sneaky behaviours (not being sick though) but missing stuff here and there and over-weighing myself. I can’t help but feel my stomach each morning and start the day off shit as my hip bones are less and less visible. I want to do it for him but I also need to do it for myself. I want to be healthy and have kids but the voice in myself is all I’ve ever known for as long as I recall and that voice is telling me I must be thin and I’m not happy unless I am. People tell me I’m thin and my body is great but to me it isn’t and by eating regularly I massively fear getting fat. I feel guilty when I eat ‘properly’ and I feel shit when I don’t because I see what I’m doing to the best thing in my life and I hate hurting him. But I cannot lie anymore. I’m waiting for CBT and I hope it will help me escape my own thoughts. I want to write to voice my thoughts and hopefully look back and see one day what I hope to overcome. I am my own worst enemy but something needs to click in my head – it is incredibly hard to retrain thoughts that have lived within my mind every single day and mounded my behaviours which I feel have made me part of who I am. I must start somewhere – so here I am today.