Coming to terms that something about your behaviour might not just be a bad habit and your thoughts about an every-day topic might be obsessive, is hard. It is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done.
My eating disorder has manipulated my thoughts into thinking that this shameful behaviour is my fault. It is simply a lack of willpower. The reason my weight has been fluctuating as long I as can think must be a result of me not having any self-control. It told me to not dare to eat in public and carefully rotate shops when going out and buying binge foods. Hide food wrappers and never let anyone know I am even thinking about consuming certain foods. This went on from my early teens until September 2016. To keep it real, those behaviours are not gone, but the secrecy has, at least a little.
In September 2016 I lived in Brisbane and worked my first corporate job. Wearing make-up and business attire was part of my daily routine and I put myself under a lot of pressure to fit in. Over the last couple of months, I started to get busy at work. I noticed I am cancelling on friends, I am not having any energy anymore to prepare dinner at home, let alone doing anything else than commute – work – sleep.
On the train, on the way home from work after a big day, I somehow started questioning if there might be something going on for me. I have been researching for a while and have been reading about Eating Disorders and depression but I was sure, what I was going through could never be that bad, let alone deserve treatment. I found myself on the website of the Butterfly Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation educating about negative body-image and eating disorders here in Australia. I remember thinking: I am not even entitled to take any advice from them, I immigrated to this country. That is a story for another time.
I found the courage and connected to their web chat. I wrote: ’I have been battling with emotional over-eating for over 10 years and I want to find out what I can do to make it stop. Or at least start…” How little I knew back then, but it all started with this. The counsellor recommended to link in with a therapist and told me I deserve to feel better. That was some big news.
The train arrived at its last station, and I was so caught up in my thoughts I did not even notice. I slowly walked down to my car and started to cry. What had I done? Is this really even worth discussing? Remember: it’s all a willpower thing. This is your fault because you are a lazy person and you can’t look after yourself.
I drove home, my partner had made dinner for us. I was not able to eat anything. Sitting crying on the table I handed him my phone with the screenshots from the conversation with the Butterfly Counsellor and this was how my journey to get help started.
This was just the first step of many to come and many more uncomfortable conversations to follow but I took the first step out of the darkness and made an appointment with my GP and Therapist in the following days.
“Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame”
– Brene Brown