My journey with food has been a long and difficult one. I want to make it very clear that I am in no way ‘healed’ yet, and I do not claim to be an expert when it comes to food and health. I’m doing my best and have educated myself on the benefits of lots of different lifestyle changes and choices, and I believe that I have made an informed decision about the way I choose to eat. If you disagree with me, that’s totally fine, we all have different opinions. But please don’t shove yours down my throat (I’m looking at you, meat eaters who comment “what about steak thought??”) and please respect me enough to not leave rude comments.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a problem with food. Since attending psychodynamic psychotherapy I’ve realised that this has always been kind of a by-product from the trauma’s I experienced in my childhood and adolescence, the abuse I’ve suffered and as an effect from my PTSD.
“She’s such a picky eater.”
“Why can’t you just eat like a normal child??”
“Are you not hungry or something?”
“I’m not leaving until you finish your plate.”
“Why are you so difficult?”
“You’re too skinny, it’s because you don’t eat enough.”
These are all comments I received from everyone other than my parents as a child. My parents were incredibly supportive and accepting of the fact that I clearly had an issue around food, they never pushed me and to them I am very grateful. It is to the extended family, especially who commented on my weight, that I am particularly disgusted with. As a general disclaimer, my eating disorder has never been about the way I look, to be honest most of them aren’t. I was never unhappy with the way I looked, I was never underweight and I was never unhealthy. I have always eaten enough, I have always been healthy. The health problems that I am now experiencing have everything to do with my PTSD manifesting in my physical body, and nothing to do with how I choose to nourish my body. Believe me, I have had enough medical exams to be absolutely sure of that.
Selective Eating Disorder is something I had not heard of until recently. Without going into too much detail, there are certain foods that my childhood self considered “safe”, and others that were considered “unsafe”. I didn’t really have a choice as to which category different foods fell into. The thought of trying something new absolutely terrified me, because I didn’t know how my body would react to it. Would it make me sick? Could it trigger an allergic reaction? Will I choke on this?
And safety is a big issue for me. I have always been worried about being safe, for reasons I would rather not go into at this stage of my healing.
I still can freeze up at the prospect of trying a food I haven’t tried before. It took me an hour to try vegan cheese on a cracker recently. And that’s okay! Because that food is now listed as “safe” in my head. I’m okay with taking things slowly for myself when it comes to food.
Along with the fear of food, I became very restrictive with my eating patterns. Because eating in general became ‘dangerous’ — the fear of food making me sick became too much to handle so at one point I just tried to eat as little as possible to avoid feeling nauseous. Which, of course, was making me more nauseous. I do suffer from chronic stomach issues that I have to deal with daily, which flare up even more when I restrict myself.
Restricting is a coping mechanism that people think will keep them safe. In the last few weeks, my life has been incredibly stressful related to familial illnesses, my puppy getting very sick, and my therapy really bringing everything to the forefront, that again this week I noticed myself maybe eating one meal a day. I still find it hard to eat when I’m nervous about something, sometimes it’s near impossible.
Something I get often is “why are you vegan if you have restrictive problems” and the answer is simply because of morals. Even if you choose to eat meat and dairy I encourage everybody to watch Earthlings and Cowspiracy, as we all have a duty to the Earth and the environment to know what actually happens for us to consume what we do and how we are damaging the planet. But it is incredibly insulting when people assumed that I was vegetarian (I made the choice at age 4) because I didn’t want to eat ‘properly’ or try new things. Which really couldn’t be further from the truth, my 4 year old self was just extremely enlightened when it came to cruelty and making the farm to plate correlation.
When it came to veganism I was wholly ignorant up until about a year ago when I realised that the dairy industry was just as bad, if not worse than the meat industry. I was absolutely horrified and cried my eyes out for days that I was unwittingly partaking in this cruelty for 21 years. I made the decision to start transitioning to a vegan lifestyle and haven’t looked back once. I am not completely vegan yet as I believe in making gradual changed rather than quitting cold turkey, but I am so impressed by how things are going so far.
I attended counselling at the age of 16 because I thought my eating disorder was the only thing going on in my mental space. It was then I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The treatment I received at this particular establishment was admittedly below par, and I was discharged after a year of Cognitive Analytical Therapy but with none of my problems actually really addressed. I didn’t feel ready to leave therapy, but I was more or less forced to. For the next couple of years I battled with panic attacks, feeling great some days and absolutely horrific the next. It wasn’t until a year ago and meeting my therapist who I now work with that I realised I was dealing with PTSD, repressed memories started coming back to me and I was finally able to begin my healing journey. It has been long, it has been arduous, and it has been more painful and more difficult than I could have ever imagined. I have been depressed, I have been suicidal, I still feel all of these thoughts on the regular. But I also know that I am healing. Recovery is not easy and it never will be. It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and I guarantee it will be hard for you too, but it is worth it.
Let me repeat that, it will all be worth it.
Eternal love and light xxx