It’s funny how people usually think of anorexia first when they hear the words ‘eating disorder’.
For me it was binge eating (yes it’s a thing) and bulimia. I actually desperately wanted to be anorexic, but the whole reverse psychology thing kicked in and my cravings took over my mind.
I was bulimic because of my binge eating, and I did that because I was under so much pressure to be thin that food became a drug to me. The sense of deprivation came from obsessive dieting and eventually everything revolved around food.
First things first, when this all began I had a BMI of ~18.3, just underweight. I probably started gaining a bit of weight, and being in the world of entertainment which can drive the most confident person to be insecure, I hopped on the diet wagon.
In hindsight I feel my addictive personality may have contributed to it. I like to go all in. I researched the most effective diets and learned why it was so. Sadly for me, learning why opened the door to a whole new level of obsession. I needed to track my caloric intake. I started reading the labels on everything I ate. I would get very good at guessing the calories in a portion of food (like how I became really good at guessing someone’s salary just from looking at their CV as a recruiter, ha). I would weigh myself before and after I peed or worked out, as if the difference meant anything. I would feel bad that my efforts didn’t make my body look different.
In fact, the discouragement intensified the sense of deprivation. It wasn’t paying off, but that can’t be right. My frustration and competitiveness made me hate my body for resisting my dieting efforts. My mind grew to crave food at new heights, especially for all the foods I wasn’t supposed to eat. Eventually two things kicked in: I would either ‘fail’ and eat as much as I could because tomorrow I’ll have to be good; or I would eat until I felt sick. I remember eating food I liked, but I would also binge eat without really enjoying it. It made me feel numb, just like how some people need a drink or smoke to unwind, I guess.
When I binge ate I would do it until I felt like a piece of shit. When I felt sick enough, I would make myself puke. There was something up with my gag reflex where my body just refused to throw up, but I hated my body enough to make myself learn how to get it done. I would feel terrible emotionally and physically. I wanted to accept myself the way I was, but I grew up relatively thin and I just wasn’t comfortable with my body, knowing that it’s not normal for me to be that size. Of course, I also desperately wanted to be thin because I felt that’s the only way I can be accepted. In my previous post I touched on how people would ‘kindly remind me’ that I’m fat. It really made me hate myself. I had people speaking encouragements over me but no matter how small a remark, if someone hit me in my sore spot I would go down hard and fast. I resented myself for working out so much and still gaining weight. I hated myself for not having more control over my own mind. I hated the way I looked and I hated seeing myself at all. And then I just hated my life.
I felt so trapped in my career too. When I lost roles I would wonder if it’s because I’m bigger, or if it’s really something else. Everything came back to my insecurities. It shook my sense of worth as a person and I felt like my life wasn’t going anywhere. I was feeling so fat that single me couldn’t even imagine having a boyfriend. I wouldn’t even want someone to come close enough to see how fat I really was.
By the way, did I mention I’ve gone through this twice in my life already?
They both ended pretty much the same way: with a decision to stop dieting.
Towards the end of highschool I just decided to not worry about being a skinny actress since I had school to finish anyway. I guess that’s why the second time it happened it hit me so hard. I thought I was done with all of this, yet here I was living in my nightmare again. That time around I had it much worse: it consumed my entire life, I felt a lot more trapped, I hated myself more than I’ve ever, and I gained a lot more weight too – I must have gained 10-15 pounds over those years. That might not sound like an awful lot to everyone, but trust me, eating disorders aren’t measured in pounds, they’re measured by how much you loathe your own self.
I try not to write my posts with a call to action (and that’s not my intention here either), but counselling sorted out my life at that point. It was the simplest of all solutions, even though the beginning was still challenging. We spoke about motives and feelings, but practically speaking, all we did was simply agree to stick to three full meals a day instead of eating weird things at weird times.
It’s been over fours years since I’ve stopped dieting and I’ve lost a fair bit of weight. I know this doesn’t make sense to a lot of people, but for me, not dieting means losing weight because food no longer yields power over me. I have control over what I want and don’t want to eat. I know my body better now so I know when I can take the junk food and when I need to eat clean to stop my body from feeling like crap. I know my mind better so I never step on a scale, because it’s a trigger for me to get obsessive.
Have you connected the dots yet? Quitting acting gave me an out from my eating disorder.
I must say, I miss acting and I do wonder if going back will bring this nightmare back to life again, but right now I’m okay and that’s okay.