I got into a tiff with a relative I’ve since distanced myself from because I was hungry, and she didn’t understand what that meant.
Growing up gaslighting oneself happens as a direct result of being gaslit. Asking for my needs to be met, or trying to get help meeting those needs, was labelled attention-seeking. Explaining things, which I do best to act out, was labelled dramatic.
So I learned early on to just…downplay things and not be serious.
The thing about having an eating disorder, however, is that it IS serious.
RECOVERY is serious. Having to eat every couple of hours to fend off starvation isn’t being dramatic, it’s choosing survival and actively taking care of oneself.
“Hungry” is an understatement
Being autistic, I struggle with something called interoception. It’s what helps you comprehend what you’re feeling inside your body, like when you need to pee or are hungry.
When I realize I need to pee, I’m about to piss my pants.
By the time I comprehend my hunger, I’m starving.
I just don’t say it because I’m so used to being dismissed as melodramatic and learned to gaslight myself.
I know what starvation feels like
So I know that I’m starving. I know what happens to my body and how it feels when I’m starving.
I know the mental and physical pains of the refeeding process.
Not only do I know this experience all too well, my claims of starvation have thoroughly been validated by medical professionals who informed me the feelings I felt was my body consuming itself.
There’s this weird thing my face starts to do when I’m super hungry. My body shakes, and my face feels like tiny vibrating beads are all over my cheeks. It’s tingly. My lips curve up, then down. Suddenly, I feel like crying, vomiting, and passing out.
The world is dizzying, and I start to think this is my end. My stomach grumbles and my eyes blur. Maybe I just need a nap.
This push-pull experience happens on repeat. Each time, my breaths become a little more shallow. The longer I go without food — by choice or not — the slower my breaths. Eventually, my heart starts hurting.
It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been hungry. “Hungry” for me doesn’t feel like “just a little” hungry.
I NEED food ’cause I’m about to get hangry
And by hangry, I mean the irritability that comes with not eating enough food. It happens quickly.
There is no just “hungry” for me
At least not until I’m at a stable point in my recovery.
People who don’t understand eating disorders don’t comprehend that eating doesn’t mean cured. They see me eat, but not the struggle of eating. They don’t accept the fact that what they see is not my reality. Their perception isn’t the full picture.
Like, I haven’t had a menstrual cycle for two years — and I’ve never had a “regular”, stable one that didn’t disappear for six months or years. That’s not normal. Amenorrhea is an affect of my eating disorder, which gets screwed up even more when anorexia patients are wrongly prescribed birth control.
I KNOW what my body needs
I know what it’s telling me. I’ve been honing this level of self-awareness for years. I’ve learned to listen to it.
I NEED FOOD RIGHT NOW
Not five minutes. Not when we get home. Not when dinner’s ready.
It’s a dire situation for me. I’m not being dramatic. I’m on a mission for food, driven by survival, keen to continue existing.
My body doesn’t have patience for lapses anymore
Earlier this year, I was extremely hungry. I hadn’t eaten much for a few days, but exerted energy anyways. My body behaved much differently to that version of hunger, and it hasn’t been the same since.
Each lapse in necessary energy intake, the symptoms worsen. My body can’t take it anymore.
Whether my relatives take my eating disorder seriously or not no longer matters, because they’re the same peeps who congratulate me for looking like I’ve lost weight — and that’s exactly my problem.
I stopped surrounding myself with people who roll their eyes, scoff, etc. invalidating behaviors towards my ED recovery and experiences.
Choosing myself has been the best thing for my atypical anorexia nervosa (A-AN) recovery.
I wrote this post a few months ago. I know I just posted one on kind of the same thing, but I have DID and it’s more about the experience of the collective + sharing a different perspective.
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