Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
Yeah, it’s a been a rough week around the Polimicks household. I have a bunch of other things I wanted to blog about, including explaining to some “Free Market” Libertarian doofuses that you can’t cry censorship when the market works like a free market (i.e. boycotts), and a bunch of other things. But first, I thought maybe I could talk frankly to you about why I am so vehemently anti-diet and anti-body shaming. Because right now, I’m in the thick of the reasons why.
I’ve talked about my eating disorder before. The years I spent starving myself, then bingeing, then compulsively exercising. The damage I’ve done to my body and mind. The reason my knees hurt so badly, that my left hip occasionally randomly dislocates just for shits and giggles. I’ve talked about losing my hair, and constantly being sick. And just how fucking miserable and even crazier I was during that time period. I was drinking like a fish, and engaging a whole lot of self-destructive behaviors that amazingly enough didn’t kill me, because I had a lot of other friends who were all fucked up in their own ways who looked out for me so I didn’t become a statistic.
Most days I like to think that’s behind me. I like to think I’ve gotten over that bullshit, and I’m doing good. I eat healthy, primarily home-made foods, I eat when my body says I’m hungry and on a schedule-ish. I’m not yo-yo dieting any more. I exercise moderately instead of in every spare moment. I can say, “Yeah, no cake for me thanks,” because every slice of cake is not the LAST SLICE OF CAKE IN THE WORLD!!!!
Then I have weeks like this week.
I’ve been restricting food again.
There are a couple of triggers for this:
1. My dumbell workouts are going really well, and I’ve passed the “I’m just bumpier” stage, into the “Wow, look! Muscle tone!” stage, which is always risky. Because as many former dieters will tell you, getting smaller or losing weight starts to kick over that chunk of programming you never lose that says, “Well, yeah, but think how much better you’d look if you existed on bouillion cubes in hot water and six crackers a day!” (This was an eating disorder stage I had, it wasn’t pretty.) USUALLY I can get past this with a modicum of willpower and making myself eat on a schedule. Except that this time….
2. Stress. I’m really stressed at work. And stress is my other HUGE trigger for disordered eating. Because, thanks to years of conditioning in our incredibly sick society, not eating feels like winning in my brain. When everything else has turned to shit and is escaping my control, if I can quit eating, I WIN! Now, I don’t have to tell YOU (I hope) how fucked up that is. But sometimes I have to tell me that.
So, this week hit me twice, right in the sweet spot, and I quit eating. Well, not entirely. I started paring my food consumption below what I reasonably and rationally know I need to eat in order to be healthy, fuel my body, and not be crazypants.
Last night, I admitted to my husband and my girlfriend that I’d been restricting again. My girlfriend immediately ordered me to go take a clonazepam, because she’d been seeing the bad cycle ramping up in my tweets and IMs all week, and figured this was coming. My husband hugged me and begged me to please not give in to the crazy.
And I’m crying now.
I don’t want to be broken and crazy. I don’t want to go back to starving myself. But when things turn to shit it feels so reassuring. I don’t know if anyone who hasn’t been eating disordered can really understand how hunger pangs can be comforting, but they are. Oh sweet zombie Jesus, they are. My last therapist kept trying to convince me I was doing it to punish myself. I’m not. Because in my head, feeling that hungry STILL doesn’t feel like a punishment. It feels like victory. It feels like I’m finally doing something right.
You don’t have to tell me how fucked up and stupid that is. Rationally, I know. I know that it’s bad and self-destructive, and even more crazypants than I am on average. But oh gods…You don’t know how good it feels. And the thing is, it wouldn’t feel so good were I not so fucking broken.
This is why I am so very angry at the way the anti-obesity argument is framed. This is why I’m so angry at concern trolls and fat shamers. This. Because those people did this to me. People just like them told me that everything about my body was wrong, and the only way to fix it was to starve myself into submission. People I loved and trusted, doctors, boyfriends, friends, and even complete strangers… They aided and abetted in my crazy. They helped form a brain that thinks that hurting myself with hunger is a Reward.
I don’t ever want anyone else to have to admit to their loved ones, or themselves that they’re not eating because it feels good. Because food restriction feels safe to them, like a security blanket.
I don’t want another generation of girls destroying their bodies, and rewiring their brains to accept this crazy shit as right and good.
Do I even have to tell you how fucked up this is?
So, stop it. Just stop it.
If you love your daughters, stop it.
It IS fucked up, but you know, I can’t think of any of us who isn’t screwed up in some way, so … hugs?
No, I don’t get seeing hunger pangs as a victory, but I used to have something adjacent to it, I suppose. I wouldn’t call it an eating disorder; I wasn’t doing it to lose weight. Years ago when I was a lot more underpaid and overworked, in my early to mid-30s, there were a lot of days I wouldn’t eat until 5 p.m. or so – not really because I was trying to prove anything, but because I didn’t have a lot of money and I was busy working (and occasionally exercising) and consciously chose not to stop and eat. A few bad episodes with painful hunger pangs and the blood-sugar shakes cured me of it … eventually. (All this to say that when *I* feel hunger pangs beyond mild “it’s time to eat,” I get cranky and start Hulking around for something to put in my stomach. I’ve tried to ignore them the way I used to, and I’ve found I just physically CANNOT. It’s either age or impatience, I don’t even know.)
But yeah. Our vision of body image is FUBARed, socially. What gets me, I suppose, is it seems so much of what is actually an obesity problem (because let’s face it, a lot of us could stand to safely lose some weight for our health) is almost always blamed on the eater. Like there’s no responsibility on the food industry for creating cheap and fast out of fatty and subsidized ingredients. (I’m not criticizing the subsidies per se, just the usage and processing and overwhelming presence of the particular foods.)
Or the fact that we work sedentary jobs, for the most part, that make us sit for at least 8 hours a day. (I’m trying to remember to get up more often, but when I get into the zone, I can suddenly realize it’s been four hours and not only have I not eaten, but I’ve not moved.) I left tech so I could work less than 10-12 hours a day.
Usually I can keep this crazy carefully shelved, but this week was just a bit much for that.
It also doesn’t help when you try to tell your therapist why you’re doing something, and she says, “No, you’re wrong, you’re actually doing it because of this…” And you’re all, “No, I’m pretty sure that I do it because I LIKE IT. Trust me. I don’t feel punished. I feel good about this.”
My disordered behaviors weren’t that bad. But I understand the rage. A large part of my weight was gained by dieting and each diet promised “lasting weight loss”.
My cars were bought new and I manage my own investments…and I would much rather deal with a used-car salesman or a commission-hungry broker than another lying diet hawker or the average gym sales person. Diet ads REALLY piss me off.
Yeah, I’m really glad we don’t do regular tv in our house right now, because diet ads make me yell at the television.
Usually I can hold it together, but this last week has been… gah. Too many triggers all at once.
*hugs* I’m sorry. I understand what you’re going through and I’m sorry. Currently I’m trying to keep myself from falling back into bad habits while reintroducing healthy habits into my life (I get to start walking again last weekend. Just walking. Slowly. And not far) It would be so easy to go “alright, I’ll walk for six hours up and down the biggest hills I can find” and not eat for twelve hours… then who knows what would come after that. But, just like you said, it feels like giving into those unhealthy urges is winning. Especially when EVERYTHING else is out of control, THIS is something that can be managed.
I’m glad you have people looking out for you, people who can help remind you that there are healthier things you could be and should be doing. That is a really big help. *hugs* Good luck.
And if you need someone to talk to, call me. I totally understand.
Stupid brains, stupid society.
Hi, I am 18 years old and I constantly feel like going into a “strict diet” (although I don’t do it because I love food).I can’t stop looking at myself at the stupid mirror with out criticizing my stomach. Everybody tells me I am skinny, but I just don’t feel that way. I don’t ever feel better about myself. I don’t do anything about it. I have really bad depression and low self esteem. I try hard but it is so hard to accept myself. Whenever I see myself I always nod my head. There is so much happening in my life and I seem to loose motivation. I am tired of it and I don’t really have friends to put me back up. I can not do it on my own anymore. But yea that is my fucked up experience with the way I feel about my body.
I cannot speak highly enough of going to a therapist who gets it regarding eating disorders. If you’re in school, most high schools and/or colleges have free counseling services for students. Many cities have free or sliding scale mental health services for young adults or adults. The cities East of the lake from Seattle (Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond) have Youth Eastside Services which serves youth up through age 21, I believe. Also many therapists work on a sliding scale. I highly encourage you to find one you like and who gets you. It can make a world of difference.