I really hate being hungry.
For those who know me through this blog, you may have seen me write about my issues with food before, and for those who know me in person … well, you’ve seen it firsthand.
Since I was young I’ve had an unstable relationship with food. I find it difficult to even cook in front of people. Eating in front of friends and family is a piece of cake (pardon the pun). But strangers, work colleagues and even my housemates? That’s where it gets harder.
If I had to pick one moment in my childhood that ruined me in the healthy eating side of things, I know what I would choose. That one defining moment that, like a bad dream, has never faded from my memory. Though the specifics may be gone I can still feel the shame of it. It clings like a bad smell.
I was eight years old, getting ready for school and it was time for breakfast. My older sister had recently become obsessed with Weetabix, so my mum had bought a load and decided to try me out on it. I didn’t like the texture, the little oaty bits floating in the milk in my mouth seemed like the worst combination you could invent for a morning meal. So, obviously, I said I didn’t like it and was about to go on my way. I was happy enough to last until break time when I could spend 20p on a warm bread roll from the Tuck Shop. I didn’t see the harm in turning it down.
That is, until my mum poured it over my head. I don’t know if she was in a bad mood prior to this, or if it was me who had sent her over the edge. All I remember of that moment was her anger, and my head covered in Weetabix. Thick, gloopy wheat slid through my hair. Honestly it resembled something more akin to baby sick than edible food, part of the problem when I tried to eat it. But I hadn’t eaten it, and so there I sat at the breakfast table, pink nightie and slippers still on, coated in my own food.
And then she made me go to school.
I really don’t like to think about this. It makes me feel like a horrible person, making my mum out to be some cruel bitch who treated me like shit. She didn’t, she just wanted to prove a point. She just wanted me to eat my breakfast and be quiet about it, but she never intended to cause me any harm. It did, but that’s beside the point. I forgive her … forgave her a long time ago. That doesn’t stop it hurting when I look back though, especially when I see the correlation between the way I felt then, and the way I feel every time I try and eat now.
So off I went to school; eight years old, pink nightie on, Weetabix now congealing in my hair. I was sent off to class like nothing had happened, but obviously it didn’t take long for people to notice. I was late as it was. I entered my classroom and all of my peers, one by one, turned and looked at me.
I was mortified.
I don’t remember much of the aftermath of that day, just the voice of my headteacher as she washed my hair as best as she could, and dressed me into my uniform behind a sheet she’d found in the fort in the corner of the room. I have never forgotten it: the feeling of being utterly humiliated.
I think that’s why I struggle so much now.
Almost every time I think about eating food, I feel like I don’t deserve it. I tell myself I don’t need it, that I can manage without. When I’m eating I’m not enjoying it; I’m wondering who is watching me, what they’re thinking, are they judging me? I’m covering my mouth so no-one can see me chew. Sometimes I’m screaming at myself for being a fat cunt who only ever seems to shove food down her throat and then is too much of a pussy to puke it back up again after. Because yes, I tried that. But I’ve puked too much in my lifetime through travel sickness to pull the proverbial trigger.
The bigger problem shows itself however when you look at the direct correlation between my eating, or lack thereof, and my mood. If I don’t eat enough in the day, my mood takes a severe dive. It’s why I get myself into so much trouble when I don’t eat at work. Sometimes it can be a simple thing of there being too many people in the room at once, sometimes it can be a case of being in a bad mood before lunch begins which transfers into an absolute lack of desire to force food into my system. It means some days I wake up at 05:30 and don’t eat until late afternoon or evening, where some days I eat at 12, maybe 13:00 at the latest and won’t eat again that day. And if I let it happen more than once, it spirals to more than once a week, then creeps up to more than half of the time. It’s unbearable. Sometimes lunch break is pure torture.
I am also infamous in my team at work for not accepting food from people. Bear in mind there are around 12-13 of us, including my manager who adores baking of all kinds, and on top of this a senior team who want to make us feel better about losing our jobs by throwing us all pasty days and the occasional lunch buffet. Any time food is offered around the desks, it gets to me and people will either skip me entirely, or offer out of mere politeness. In the case of the latter, I have lost count of the amount of comments – not hurtful I should add, that’s important – saying “don’t bother, she won’t accept it”. Whilst this is true, I almost always will turn down an offer of food, of chewing gum even, it is also true that it hurts that I can’t accept it. Maybe it’s habit, maybe it’s fear. Personally I think it’s both. That’s why I’m trying to break that habit and hoping with it so too will the fear dissapate until I can just … eat.
I know of a local place, or more I know of a local website, that offer courses, classes and in-person councelling sessions for eating disorders. I don’t know if what I have is a “disorder”, but I think they can help me. I am thinking of contacting them. I’ve had this for years. For 14 of my 22 years I have lived with this. It is crippling. Do you know how many panic attacks I’ve suppressed in restaraunts trying to have a nice meal with my family? How many hours I’ve spent crying because I’m so hungry but thinking of food is too excrutiating to remember how to breathe? At it’s worst I can go into total shut down just trying to pick up my fork. And all the while the voice in my head is verbally battering me with cries of “pick it up, you twat” and “just fucking do it” and “it’s only food; what’s wrong with you?”
I’m trying to make sure I eat lunch every day. So what if there are four people in there? There are more than four chairs, and I need to eat too. I have also discovered there is one person at work who can get me to accept food. Mostly I feel guilty for not accepting because he asks so nicely, but I think it has a lot to do with trust as well. Trust in him that he won’t pressure me into taking it, just encourage. But perhaps trust in myself that nothing bad will happen if I take it. Public eating is still hard, but it’s a start. I still can’t comfortably sit in a restaraunt and eat a meal, only time and practice will help that.
I want to get better. I’m sick of it. Food has held this power of me since before I hit double-digits and it’s time to stop. Time to kick the unwanted house-guest from the bedroom of my brain.
I want to be free.
As you may know, Christmas is a hard time for me. The last three or four of them I had to bail upstairs to escape my family even if just for a little while. It gets intense around them and I never quite feel welcome. Two years ago was the worst, I won’t drag you through the details again but that December through February were pretty fucking hard. I got over it eventually, just, but it sucked.
This year wasn’t so bad. I opened my presents without too much self-consciousness, ate my entire meal and then tried to enjoy the food-coma TV session. The latter became too much as expected, but this year instead of slipping upstairs to cut myself, I decided go get drunk on shots with my sister. We invented drinks, I learnt that I can layer Baileys on Creme de Menthe, and we actually had fun. Then I got emotional. Now, I’m not much of a drinker, so I don’t really know what kind of drunk I am. I usually get a little cuddly, then get self-depricating. This time however I let my December stress erupt in tears while my family watched Apollo 13 in the other room. I still don’t know if they heard me crying, but I was a mess.
Me and my sister talked for a good 30 to 40 minutes. It’s the most open I’ve been with her (voluntarily) in pretty much ever. I don’t want to say what we spoke about, but it was nice and helped put certain things into perspective. One thing I told her was that I still have anxiety and depression. She knew, of course, that I’d struggled. She accidentally saw one or two of my darker posts on here so she knew I cut and she knew I’ve struggled. But this time I chose to tell her myself. And now I’m telling you, just because it helps me to get it out in written text.
I’m struggling. Again for my own reasons I don’t want to talk about some of it, some things are too personal even for The Hell Butterfly. But I trust you and I like to write about it, regardless of whether you want to read it. I’m not happy in my job. I work in web support for 3 well known train companies here in England. I help people make bookings, process refunds, sometimes file complaints. It’s not a bad job and it pays enough, but I’m not learning and it’s stressful. People in the public are stupid, and rude, and sometimes even insulting. And when an angry Indian man who you’ve just denied a £100 refund to starts yelling and swearing at you down the phone, it’s hard to keep the anxiety from fucking up your job (yes that happened). I want to quit so bad, start a career in writing or editing or publishing, but I need the money and I’m trying to make a living in a dying industry. The conflict of what I want to do versus what is out there for someone like me is intense and it makes me uneasy.
I’m also finding it very hard to eat at the moment. I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about my food issues on here. I find it very hard to cook in front of people, and nearly impossible to eat in front of people I don’t really know or trust. It gets harder still when the depression and anxiety kicks in. I start over thinking, worrying about my weight and body shape, what people will think of me, and it spirals to where I tell myself I don’t deserve to eat. I care so much what other people think that I start to hate myself and feel disgusted with myself for even being hungry. I’ve had a long-standing chaotic relationship with food. I think it stemmed from a childhood incident involving Weetabix, my mum pouring it on my head, and being forced to go to school like that in my nightie. I don’t like to remember that. About 4 or 5 years ago I would make sure I didn’t eat more than around 500-600 calories a day. I kept a spreadsheet. If I ate over 1000 I punished myself in ways I imagine you can guess, knowing my personality. My point is, the last few weeks have been tough and with it has come more issues surrounding my ability to eat. Some days at work, if there are 4 or more people in the break room I can’t eat. There’s too many people and I panic. It means some days I wake up at 05.30 and don’t eat until 15.00, or eat at noon then don’t eat again that day.
I’ve recently come down with the illness everyone seems to be getting too. It feels like my voice box is trying to claw its way out of me through my ears. I feel nauseous a lot and that in turn affects my eating. Add the stress of my job and a recent (mildly terrifying) personal scare and we have a recipe for disaster. Yesterday I had a few cups of tea, some pasta at about 1pm, then only managed to stomach a half bowl of ice cream and a few sips of tea before bed. I was ill and in a very bad state of mind. It had been a hard day and a tough month in general. Finding the desire to put food in my mouth is a task in itself. I feel sick thinking about moving the fork to my mouth and chewing. It seems the only times I eat right these days is when my boyfriend’s dad invites me round for tea and cooks for me. I’m trying to fix that.
So basically this post is just me saying I’m struggling with food, my job, and my personal life. I’m hoping I can get back on track with writing as I’m finding it hard to know how to do even that but it does make me feel better to post on here, no matter the subject. Thank you all for sticking with me and Happy New Year everyone.