No, its not wednesday. Nor am I (or will I ever) do an eats-report. So, no, I did not misspell WIAN. WAMM stands for ‘What Anorexia made me’ , and WIAN for ‘What I am not’.
I could have done a fun friday but instead this is more a ‘Finding myself back-Friday’. For the coming weeks I will post on what Anorexia did to me as a person, instead of all the standard crap of what anorexia does to our body. This does not mean that my fridays are no longer fun. They are, moreso than they have been in a long time. I am slowly but surely finding myself again. And by writing down what my illness took from me and turned me into will only help me find who I really am even more.
The coming weeks will consist of the following posts. Please bare in mind that some of it might have a triggering content since I write of the things my ED made me do.
What AN made me
(yet what I am not!)
– a hoarder
– a shoplifter
– a bin-ge eater
– a liar and a cheater
– a scared little mouse
The things that anorexia made me, part I: a hoarder
I’ve always been one to ‘collect stuffs’. As a kid my room was filled with collections (either on display or stashed somewhere) of the most random things. A glass jar filled with the most colourful candy wrappers. Jars full of marbles. Stones and shells I’d found while walking with my nose stuck on the ground (as my mom used to call it, because I was always looking for anything ‘interesting’ on the ground). But I also had countless glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling, teddy bears, cello-things and books. My bedroom was a carnival attraction where, if you’d have one shot, you’d always get a price.
As I grew older, my ‘collections’ got less obvious. I would secretly keep worn down T-shirts in the back of my closet because I loved their soft fabric so much, and I had booklets and cut-outs of random magazines kept in countless files. And even if it wasn’t a collection, I still would not throw out stuff if it’d break down or when it was replaced. I could not throw things out, even if I wasn’t really attached to it.
I became itchy if things needed replacement. My brother would beg for new gadgets, but I preferred nothing to be replaced, and if I had no choice, I rather had his hand-me-downs than new things. At least that way it had been in my presence for a while already.
In school, when I went to the bathroom, I had to wait until a certain one was available, even if it meant letting others go first to use the other bathrooms. No matter how much I needed to pee, I had to go to ‘my’ toilet.
And dare forbid my mother would buy the wrong brand of iced-tea. Or gum. Or whatever.
After I broke my pattern (more on that next time) I, for a while, thought I was free. But I wasn’t. Soon enough anorexia crept in. And while my anorexia fed on many things (except food), it definitely fed on my hoarding as well.
At first it started with random things like stationary. I would buy nice, new diaries, books and crayons, pens etc. yet never use them. I kept them neatly stored in their original packages. Then it turned into saving up candy. I would buy, take (like, from restaurants for instance) or in other ways hoard candy, chocolate, bars etc and keep them somewhere in my room. Just in case. On special occasions (or when I was drunk) I would serve them to friends, but I would never allow them to myself. Everything (from stationary to food and clothing and more) I saved up was ‘special’. And special things were not for me.
When my first episodes of bingeing happened, my hoarding got worse. The day after a binge would consist of fasting, cleaning and buying random things. I would obsessively buy clothing I would never wear, gifts for friends, decorations for the house or for other people’s place, etc. I never binged from my own stashes by the way, because I never binged on special things. I only binged on foods I did not like, because I didn´t ´deserve´ nice food.
But back to my hoarding. When I started recovery, I made myself de-clutter. I wanted to get rid of all the hoarded things, be it candy, clothing or crayons. They were all too painful memories for me, so I decided to hand them out. Friends, family, neighbours, salvation army; whoever I thought would care to have it, I gave it to. I was done hoarding in secrecy. Or so I thought.
When recovery got serious, I still hoarded treats. Because sometimes I felt I wanted to keep them for a ´special occasion´, but mostly I was still scared of eating them, especially if I felt people were ‘watching’. So I would put them in my bag, stash them in my closet and eat them later. I would spend nights and nights sitting in my wardrobe, eating chocolates, cookies and cakes. But I would make myself finish my stashes regularly (even in planned binges, just to get rid of all the ‘dangerous foods’ hidden that no one knew was there. I realize now how little sense it makes to save up ´dangerous foods´ and then plan to eat it all in one go anyway), so that the stash never grew too big. And when I moved out again, I promised myself to not hoard food again. I was living alone now for the first time ever (even without flat mates) so there was no one to hide anything for anyway, which, I’ll admit, didn’t make the urge to eat in secrecy less. It is not like anorexia makes you think and act in logical ways.
So where am I today? Today I don’t collect things anymore. I still have two teddy bears, but I sleep with both (I know…). I still have treats in my house, but they’re in the cupboards and they’re for me as much as for my guests. Sometimes I can even have some without it leading to a binge. I still have clothing (though most of it doesn’t fit anymore..), but not with the labels still attached. And I no longer collect stones, shells, candy wrappers or whatever anymore either. I no longer hoard anything (errrr, shoes don’t count, right?).
To some extent. I still struggle every now and then with ‘allowing myself’ things. Especially, still, ‘special’ or new things. I will buy new underwear, yet keep it new for longer than necessary. I will buy new stationary yet put it in the drawer. I will pass around fresh biscuits, and eat the stale ones myself. I am working on it, though. I’ve been making myself break those habits and it has been liberating. It’s such a weird pleasure to buy yourself a nice little something every now and then just because you fancy it. And then to actually let yourself wear/use/eat it! It makes me feel a little decadent. And I can tell you, (especially after mental health problems such as eating disorders) few things are as liberating as letting yourself feel decadent every now and then.