'My identity is my dress size'
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When I woke up this morning the first thing I thought about was chocolate.
In fact, almost every morning the first thought on my mind is chocolate.
It seems odd, I know. Lindt dark with a hint of sea salt is my weakness. I keep a 100 gram block in the bottom right corner of the top drawer to the left of my bed.
When the block is complete it signals a trip down the stairs, through the front door, to the carport, where I begin my short journey to the supermarket to replace it.
We all love chocolate, but not all of us are controlled by it. For me, the feelings, desire and commitment to it involve a lot more psychological confusion than an ordinary sugar craving.
I suppose you're confused.
I'm anorexic and have been for eight years.
It began at 16 and now I'm nearing my mid-20s I'm more than aware that I've tossed away what could have been the best years of my life.
Eating chocolate is frightening. I scoff, devour and cry my way through a block. It is quite literally bittersweet. The first bit is OK, I like it.
I tell myself it's only 53.calories and another piece won't hurt so long as I skip breakfast and lunch the following day.
I feel guilty but try to comfort myself, repeating in my head "eating this is normal, eating this is normal" all the while battling images of the added fat I am convinced has since accumulated on my arms and stomach.
My muscles don't look as toned now and those jeans definitely won't fit in the morning.
This is an honest reality of my thought processes. The chocolate represents my prison and I'm tortured by the allure of freedom.
Freedom, of course, being the ability to eat and enjoy without the overwhelming guilt and sense of failure haunting my conscience.
I have failed because I haven't remained disciplined. I must be disciplined or else I do not achieve.
I have failed because I cannot even fight the urge to eat a piece of chocolate.
If I am unable to even achieve that I cannot achieve anything else. I hate myself. I am not worthy.
This is how I think and I know it's far from normal.
People are going to scoff at this and brush me off as a loopy, self-obsessed, self-absorbed, mid-20-something who should really learn a thing or two about "real problems".
I have heard it all before.
I want nothing more than to be rid of this disease.
I was in hospital for six months a few years ago. I was very sick and the doctors told me I was hours from a heart attack.
I was released after gaining sufficient weight but the underlying issue was never resolved. I slipped back into old patterns right away.
Since then I have been in and out of therapy. I have also been diagnosed with depression and spent some time in hospital after a suicide attempt.
The depression is particularly hard to deal with and fairly debilitating.
Right now I'm an alien looking in on society, desperate to adopt a true sense of identity, maintain a career, fall in love and create drama when I'm drunk on a Friday night.
Yet my identity is my dress size and I define my worth by my BMI and calories burned after 60 minutes on the treadmill.
Tomorrow I want to wake up and worry about how long I overslept. My jeans will fit just as they did yesterday and I will confidently strut around the house in my towel post-shower, just like you see in those American sitcoms. When that happens, I'll know that the chocolate doesn't control me and thus I can take back my own life.
My goal is recovery but I need to take caution; it's like being on parole.
Rewarding myself with a skipped meal after a bad day is all it will take to send me back to prison.
My friends and family are aware, but I never really open up about my true struggle.
No-one ever knows if I've skipped dinner and breakfast and I always tell friends I've eaten when we go out for meals.
I'm afraid of telling everyone how I really feel, for fear I will be forced into hospital only to gain weight. I don't think I am yet ready to let anorexia go, despite it ruining my life.
My hair is so thin and it falls out in clumps in the shower. I'm always freezing and have fine hairs all over my body. I menstruate sporadically. Everyone thinks I'm nuts.
I dream of sustaining a normal lifestyle but I am far too aware of the impending weight gain that will occur. I'm still trying to weigh (no pun intended) the pros and cons of larger thighs and bust versus my spindly frame.
The true idea of recovery is to attain happiness and fulfilment but I can't shake the thought that gaining weight will only make me feel uncomfortable, leaving me even more miserable than when I began.
Some day I'm going to be normal, and I really just can't wait.
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