I know this space is supposed to house completely different stuff, but it’s been a while since I’ve had the time to get to those kinds of things. Here’s why.
I have a bit of an eating disorder. That’s a thing that’s a fact–one I’ve known for quite some time, I suppose, but haven’t really been able to hold in my hands, to own, before now.
Food guilt is a term for it. Binge Eating Disorder is perhaps the official term. I don’t know, I don’t have an official diagnosis, and I haven’t talked to a professional about it. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. There are times where I think that maybe I don’t cross whatever imaginary line might exist to qualify for a ‘bona fide’ diagnosis. But if that line, practically speaking, is occasional self-hatred, then I’m hitting the hallmarks.
When I really think about it, in deep-down study, I can remember times in my childhood when I had binging episodes. I don’t recall how old I was, but I do remember standing on a dining room chair and pulling down no end to food and absolutely fucking destroying it. When that wasn’t available, I can remember eating scoops and scoops of sugar on its own on more than one occasion. We’re talking about pure id at the controls. Despite trying to pull something up, I have positively no memory of ever feeling repercussions of this, or of being caught in the middle of a binge. That can’t possibly be true, I know, because what kid who eats dozens of snack cakes in secret doesn’t get called out by his mother at some point?
I remember being a chubby kid and being put on a restricted diet by the pediatrician, an old Filipino man who, aside from poking and pinching at my kid-gut, seemed otherwise nice and knowledgeable.
“He need to lose some weight,” the doctor said. “Don’t want him to be affect later in life.” He gave my mother some papers and just like that, I was on a diet. At maybe nine or ten. As an adult, this thought crosses my mind: who does that? That’s a thing? Clearly it is, and maybe there are instances where that’s a necessary measure, but now that I think of it, I don’t recall being ridiculously obese as a kid. Maybe a little doughy, sure. But I never really got a sense that my life was in danger because of my weight in fourth grade.
As I’ve progressed through life, its ups and downs, ins and outs, I’ve spent a lot of time eating in secret, hiding candy wrappers, lying about it, putting away positively heroic amounts of food, dieting, losing weight, gaining weight, and enduring very real physical and psychological pains because of all of it, however minimal they might be in weight compared to the pains of others. Not to minimize, but I realize that my issues are mild, maybe even minor compared to others. I’ve managed to function and even thrive in certain areas of my life, and I truly feel lucky for that.
But that’s not to say that there haven’t been, like I said, real effects. There’s never been a moment since I was maybe 10 where I didn’t feel like I was embarrassingly overweight. I can’t look in a mirror without actively disliking what I see. This spills over into other areas at times and makes me sometimes feel inadequate as an employed person, a husband, father, and overall man. Every time I eat a meal, I feel at least a little bit guilty. Worse if there’s bread, sugar, or any kind of dessert involved.
The biggest thing, though, is being alone. If there’s any food available, it’s like a veil falls over my sense of self-control. I can’t help myself. Doesn’t matter what it is, and it doesn’t matter how full I feel, or how recently I’ve eaten. It’s fucking going in. Lots of people say, “It’s easier to not eat,” but you know what? Those people are fuckheads. It’s not a conscious thing, and it’s really difficult to describe. There are plenty of cliches out there, and I guess they fit the bill, in some ways. But really, it turns out that, for me anyhow, it’s just about tasting things. It’s like being in the desert and discovering you’ve had a canteen of cold, clean water all along that you didn’t know about. The tastes are like nothing you’ve ever come across, and you absolutely need them all. The act of swallowing, though I do it, is almost consequential. There have been times where the guilt’s been so much that I’ve thought, “No, no. I can’t swallow this, I’ll just grow too large. I’ll get too big.” On occasion, maybe five times that I can recall, I’ve spit it out. This only makes the guilt grow, because holy shit, that’s a purge. That’s a fucking purge. I’ve become a god-damned old bastard version of an after-school special. This is probably too much information, but fuck it. Since I’m making confessions here, might as well go the full card punch, right?
I’ve straight-up purged a couple times. That’s pretty embarrassing to admit, and you know that now. So I’ve got that going for me. My response to this is that I can only be thankful that this is something that didn’t stick for me.
Nonetheless, I’ve been the way I am for decades, and I’m only now owning up. I’m 37. I have high blood pressure. Technically speaking, I’m obese, in terms of the BMI scale. My maternal grandfather died at 43 of rheumatic heart disease. As a result, I feel like I’m living on borrowed time as it is. Extending on that: last week, I ran 19 miles. This week, I ran about 22. I bicycled to work every day, totalling about 35 miles. That’s just how I get the fucking dogs in my head to stop barking, and how I get to work, respectively. But here I sit, still not meeting my own standards–not that I can even define those.
Yet, there’s this very act–this act of saying something and sharing it. It’s a step, however small. If you’re reading this, it’s because I want you to, and because I want you to know that even though it’s taken me a ridiculously long time, I’ve noticed a problem, and I’m working on it. There’ll be times where I need help. There’ll be times where I don’t see things the way the are. There’ll be times where I don’t see myself the way I am, where I need to be set right. Maybe I’ll relapse, gain a fuckton of weight, or just have a single binge session every now again and then feel so guilty that what self-worth I’ve managed to build up gets completely erased. I have no idea what will happen, which I find to be pretty scary. I have some accountability measures in place to help me. I have the best and most understanding wife on the planet (if you’ve met her, you know this to be true), and I have a network of close friends who I can confide in. You know who you are.
I also know this: I need more friends, and I need support. I’m basically only putting this out there for the purpose of being close with more people. I don’t need sympathy. I don’t need you to feel weird. I don’t need you to try to convince me of my worth. This is a thing for me to figure out, probably mostly on my own. I just need sincere, genuine connection. The more best friends the better. Join me, won’t you?