These last two weeks have really been a mess eating disorder-wise. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve purged. Maybe around 10 times. Not more than once each day. Thing is, that’s an all-time record for me. Purging has never really been my behavior, it’s most always been restriction.
Why has this been going on? I honestly think that after losing 40+ pounds in 2014 in less than 4 months I fucked up my stomach and ended up developing a mild case of gastroparesis. I wasn’t like this before 2014. It comes and goes, but these 2 weeks have been…ugh.
I get mildly nauseous after eating any meal. The degree of nausea directly correlates with how much food I eat. And there’s a point of no return that I can actually discern as I’m eating. The point of no return is usually when I am mildly satisfied with how much I have eaten. If I continue to eat after that, I know I will get nauseous 5-10 minutes after finishing. This mild “physical” nausea gets worse with what I call the “mental” nausea that I get from the eating disordered thoughts (You’re fat. You’re disgusting. I can’t believe you just ate that much, etc). All this results in my feeling as though food were stuck in my throat, begging for it to come out even 4 hours after eating.
In addition to the nausea, I get terribly bloated. And this is irrespective of how much I eat. If I eat, I bloat. And the bloat worsens the eating disordered thoughts, of course, even if rationally I know it’s not “fatness” but bloating.
I also feel full for quite a while after eating. Yesterday I felt uncomfortably full a complete 4 hours after eating a normal meal. The day before, it was 5 hours.
Finally, there’s the abdominal discomfort. At the top of my abdomen, localized to where my stomach is. Gnawing, crampy, and similar in level of annoyance to period pain.
All of this makes me want to purge. Purging eliminates the food, which is the source of the pain, bloating, and nausea. But, purging is an eating disordered behavior. So, as I’m trying to make myself feel better in an unhealthy way, I’m also feeding the eating disordered thoughts and behaviors.
So far I’ve had two days where I’ve led what I call my “gastroparesis diet”, which is really just being careful to eat small meals veeeeeeeeryyyyyy slowly. This results in pain-free, nausea-free and only very mild bloating days. Success. I’ve also been following a not so healthy diet other days, where I simply skip breakfast and eat as little as possible. This is obviously more eating disorder-oriented.
So, what keeps me from doing the “gastroparesis diet” every day? My parents.
Sounds weird, right? Well, my parents, I have noticed, are the main reason behind the growing anxiety surrounding my eating habits.
My dad loves food and he loves to eat. His own family had some pretty screwed-up upbringing surrounding food, where his mother (my grandmother), a woman with non diagnosed generalized anxiety disorder, obsessed that if her children didn’t eat they would starve. I suspect my aunt has her own issues with food because of this.
My dad thinks the only way he can show his children love, other than being affectionate, is by feeding them. He obsesses over his food. For example, if he wakes up early at 6am one day and we coincide for breakfast, he asks me what I want to have for dinner. My response: a very pissed-off grumble about how I don’t give a fuck about what I’m going to eat 12 hours from now. In addition to that, he obsesses over what other people eat. He’s always asking what I’m eating, always goes into the kitchen when he hears someone else go in, always wants a bite of your food, tells you what leftovers there are for you to eat (even if you didn’t ask), and lets you know if he disapproves of your “simple” dinner when you’re not that hungry.
My mom, meanwhile, pays close attention to what I eat because she noticed my weight loss in 2014 and recently confessed to me she thought I had an eating disorder (yes, mom, I do, but I wasn’t going to accept it to you…). My dad is also included here.
All this paranoia surrounding food results in my feeling an incredible deal of anxiety during mealtimes. First off, there’s the baseline anxiety of eating because I think I will get fat. But lately it’s not really that what’s been making me more anxious, it’s my parent’s obsessing over food in general and also specifically my food.
The gastroparesis issues make me want to eat small meals incredibly slowly. However, I can’t do this around my parents because they start to question my eating. Because of this, I get anxious thinking Am I eating enough so that they will let me be? And that only results in my eating more than I would like to…cue the bloating, nausea, pain. The only days I’ve managed to curb this are days when I have dance class, because I don’t get home in time to have dinner with them. I eat alone, in peace, and have only very mild bloating. Coincidence? I think not.
Also, mealtimes are so wrapped around conflict in my family it’s ridiculous. Food is the root of most arguments and gathering at the table for dinner feels like trying to keep a bunch of equal charges together. It’s awkward, it’s uncomfortable, and I want to get out of there as soon as possible.
It’s gotten to the point where I am so anxious that I am terrified of going out for dinner. Yesterday we did, and I was terrified of having people, including my parents, see me eat. I was also terrified of overeating, as that will trigger the eating disorder thoughts and worsen the gastroparesis symptoms.
So, how have I been managing the past two days? I stay in bed until really late so as to skip breakfast, eat a small lunch after my parents have left the kitchen, and then eat dinner and manage the anxiety as best I can (which is not managing it at all).
I hate it. I fucking hate all of this. I don’t want anything to do with food again. Ever.