[trigger warning: Disordered eating, mental illness, mental health industry, suicide, abuse, sexual abuse]
I defs feel you on that.
Like, I follow a couple recovery blogs, and shit, and I often just skip over their posts without even really looking, because I just never really connect at all to their messages, and generally feel pretty alienated by them, because they’re always very ~you are so beautiful, every girl is different an beautiful y’all~
and like, I’m sure that’s validating for some people, but it both doesn’t identify me specifically, and then doesn’t really speak to my issues with my ED, because a lot of it is about self worth, for me.
I’d say in the beginning, it was very much a response to puberty, and the body shaming messages i had received as a child. As a trans* person, that was super confusing for me, because i was eleven, and not only developing ahead most of my peers, but also coming to a point where my consciousness was developing, too. And this meant sort of dealing with the fallout of the sexual and emotional abuse I had dealt with throughout my childhood, and that triggering severe mental illness problems, and a period of very intense suicidal feelings and ideology.
Having had some very strange food situations at my biological father’s house, and having had him tell me not to eat bread, lest I “become a blimp”, I also became very obsessive about food. I guess the look of adolescent breasts, and the body shape that is kind of characteristic of early to mid-puberty, lead me to believe that my dissatisfaction with my body was because I was “fat”, and so I furthered some very unhealthy eating habits that originated in fear and anxiety, and now encompassed my worth to my fairly absent father. He was often not around, and when he was, he was saying things like I mentioned, and the gifts I would get from him were always sort of tools to make me more “feminine”, as in blond hair dye, and “girly” clothes, and so I felt inadequate in a lot of ways, especially if I was thinking about wanting a more masculine body.
So I don’t know, the whole thing became very tied-in with my worth, and self-worth, and generally when I would have a relapse, it was as a punishment to myself for not being satisfactory. Like last fall, when I had a manic episode, and did some possibly embarassing things, and that triggered a relapse because I spent a lot of time thinking about how useless and “stupid” I was to have done those things.
And a lot of this then played in to obsessive thought patterns associated with bipolar disorder, and I would constantly be telling myself that I wasn’t worth taking up space, and then becoming more obsessive over my body image as I lost weight, and became even more of the “ideal female shape”. Those feelings of disgust then fed in to my self-worth more, and would spiral to a point of complete disassociation from my ED, where I would starve myself, or binge and purge, and not acknowledge to myself that it was happening. And that’s easy with that kind of disorder, and then even easier when playing in with psychotic thought patterns, and the starvation reaction of my body. I would find myself convinced of having super powers, because I could function very well in my work environment, and not be eating anything at all for days on end. The only times when I would have to acknowledge anything was going on was when I literally couldn’t hold my thought processes, or stay awake for much of anything outside of work.
So all this to say that the “You are beautiful at any size” kind of recovery does not speak to me in any way, and even now when it have become a fair bit more about my body image, those styles of recovery and help are not going to work for me.
And I am in no way done with recovery, or even close to that, and I’m having a really hard time the past month or so with my ED, so I can’t really give you the most sage-like of advice, but I can say a few things, i guess.
So I mean, obviously I am very aware of the factors that play in to why I suffer from disordered eating,
that helps. Knowing why.
And I will absolutely never forgive my biological father for the things he did or said, or the environment he put me in,
but knowing the effects it had on me gives me the power to say no, you know? it gives me the power to be like “Fuck you, I can move past this, you’re not going to keep me down for the rest of my life.”
That kind of power is what has gotten me in to recovery. That attitude of fuck everyone and everything, I am valuable, and need my body to function, not for anybody else, but for me, because I enjoy doing things. I need to eat to do things. I need energy to make lattes, and garden, and take care of Mara, and play with Mara, and to kiss boys, and to do YAC things, and to talk to people, and certainly, if anything, to blog.
I think that’s something Sean taught me. When he was the only one I told when I had a relapse, he just sort of came at me. And he always does. He has this way of support that’s very “Take care of yourself, or I’ll destroy everything you love, I swear to god.”
When I wanted to kill myself, he literally told me that he would eat my cats if I did.
So all in all, I mean, that has been my guide so far. I needed to stop disassociating, and actually look at why I was doing it. And that took a lot. I had to acknowledge what I was doing, not only to myself, but to other people that I could be accountable to.
And mostly, I had to ignore a lot of their soft “I love you, you’re beautiful” kind of reaching out to me, because that was really unhelpful, and they would have been best to be firm, and not show their worry, but that’s a lot to ask from people. And I never made it clear what I needed from them, because I didn’t know.
So I looked at why I was doing it, and I navigated from there, finding out what I needed from myself, and what I needed to overcome.
It has definitely been a lot easier now that I’m on a medication that really works. The obsessive thoughts, and mixed state feelings that breed those kinds of thoughts, are mostly at bay. I can stop myself a lot of times, before it gets really bad, and that is helpful.
I think the only thing that could have been better was if I could have found therapy that actually worked for me. Having help from somebody with experience with that kind of thing to really guide me through would have helped, and I would be further along than I am now. But I don’t often get along with therapists, and most seem to deal with EDs in that very soft way that was counter productive to me because I assumed it didn’t apply to somebody so worthless.
My gender therapist said she wanted me to deal with all of this before starting hormones, lest it resurface while I was physically transitioning, which is a lot of bullshit, but also it is something that has been resurfacing, and I am struggling a lot with it now, the more I look at my body, and look at what is expected of me as a gay man. And that’s really hard. But again, being medicated is helping.