Disclaimer: This article was submitted anonymously.
Okay, let me just outright say it: I don’t really care about food.
No, I’m not going to say “sike”.
Before you say anything, I admit, it is a strange statement to make. But I meant what I said.
I just wanted to be thin and skinny. And I had made it my goal to never go past 50kg — otherwise, I’d starve myself.
And boy, have I been through that a lot.
It Wasn’t Supposed To Be A Big Deal
To me, this hasn’t been a cause for concern or anything. I personally didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Ever since I was in college, I would often pick at my food. Whenever it was time to eat, I would stare at my plate and the thought of eating what’s on it would make my stomach churn.
Thinking about it now, I should have known there was something wrong with that behaviour. But it never occurred to me that it was something to be worried about. I mean, I still ate, just… maybe not enough of it? I don’t know.
But don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for my body. But her and I haven’t always been on good terms. I’ve always felt like because I was so tiny, if I ate a lot of food, it was more noticeable that I gained weight. Where else is the food supposed to go in such a limited space? I wasn’t necessarily skinny, but I was always just enough. And I’d like to keep that way forever, please.
The problem that I fail to realise, is as you grow older, your needs change. It gets harder and harder to control your diet. So what better way to “control” what you eat, than to not eat at all?
So throughout the years, I’ve adapted to that “habit” and just labeled myself as a picky eater, since it’s easier to explain to people rather than tell them “I’m not hungry.” Because God forbid you say that in an Asian household, are you out of your mind?
I would skirt around the offers of food and would often just opt to have a drink rather than eat anything. On the times that I do eat, I would only wait until I’m super hungry before I actually have a bite. But it gets simultaneously harder and easier to ignore the offers as the months roll by.
And Then The Holidays Rolled Around
What’s difficult is that the holiday season is when everyone expects you to be on your third or fourth plate well by noon. But for someone who finds it difficult to do that, I would just carry a plate around with me and put a little bit of everything on it and strike up conversations while I pick at my food, so that it looks like I’m eating.
But being in a large setting is easier to get through. All you have to do is strike up a conversation. Talking to people was a distraction for me to actually get away with not eating the food. It also distracts my conversation partner long enough to notice that I’ve only been pushing food around my plate while theirs are empty.
Sometimes though, I couldn’t really get away from it. My parents and other family members will find ways to sneak me food and if I don’t eat, it seems disrespectful. It’s not that I don’t want to eat, but when you’ve starved yourself for quite a while, it’s just become a habit to… not do it, you know?
Sometimes I wouldn’t even be hungry.
If I had to, I would relate it to fasting. Although it’s a little blasphemous, I think, I wouldn’t have any other way to explain it. Once you get used to the feeling of being hungry and then not, and then hungry again and then not, etc, it gets easier. So if you could hold on to that feeling, things will be fine.
That’s what I always thought la. Until I paid a visit to the doctor because I had problems with my stomach.
Trying To Change It
When I first explained my situation to her, she stared at me with a look akin to pity and said, “You… realise that this isn’t normal, right?” She had told me that my insides were basically screaming for help. That if I didn’t get myself together, my body would eat itself from the inside out.
Ever since then, I’ve (along with my mother’s hawk-like monitoring) taken the recommended meds and followed the doctor’s orders of a specific diet plan to get myself on track.
I’m going to be 100% honest here and say that I absolutely hate it. It stresses me out a lot because I’d be craving for food and I can’t keep myself hungry anymore. I’m just not used to that feeling yet.
Trying to eat normally again is so hard. I don’t know why people don’t talk about it more. It’s so difficult trying to convince myself that it’s okay to get a second plate if I want to once in a while and that no, I haven’t eaten too much, and yes, you are still skinny, calm. down.
What made it worse was that my mother had taken it upon herself to force-feed me. Of course, this is a hyperbole. Because you can’t force-feed someone who’s recovering from an eating disorder, it’ll only make it worse. So what I meant by force-feeding here is that she would make sure that I eat, that I’m not skipping any meals, I’m getting all my nutrients in and I’m taking my medication as prescribed, all of those things.
It’s Worse Before It’s Better. But Now It’s Worse
The first few weeks of recovery sucked. I didn’t feel like myself, I was tired and cranky all the time and I think I suffered from sugar withdrawals. When I was doing the whole not eating thing, the only thing I hadn’t cut down on was candy. To me, it was easier to swallow. And if I always have food (or some form of it) in my mouth, people won’t ask me why I’m not eating.
Now that we’re nearing the holidays, my anxiety is doubled. No joke, my heart would beat twice as fast at the thought of going to weddings and visiting people’s houses because that’s where all the food is. And if I don’t have at least 10 rounds of food, people will ask me questions that I’m not yet ready to answer.
I will still say though, even if you disagree, my condition isn’t terrible. To me, at least. But it did start to affect my lifestyle and energy. Also, my bodily functions (please don’t look at me like that, I know how that sounded. But I’m still sticking to what I said). So, it’s like what they said, early prevention is better than cure. And I’m on that road to recovery.
Is it going smoothly? No. Not at all. But I’m an adult and I know that I have to take care of myself no matter how hard it is.
In The End, It’s You
If you’ve reached this far, I just wanted to say that I don’t want any words of motivation to get me through this. I personally feel like that brings more burden than it does any good. Like I have to get well soon, otherwise, I’d just let people down. So, I’m doing it at my own pace. It’s going to be a hell of a journey, but I’m sure I’ll be fine.
So if you feel like there’s something wrong with you, whether from your own realisation or from someone else’s, reach out, get help. You won’t like what you hear at first, but you’ll feel a lot better in the long run. Or so I’ve heard.
If you’re in need, there ain’t no shame in asking for help. This can also be applied to your mental health. In the end, if you don’t take care of yourself, who else will?