WAMM, WIAN, part I: A hoarder

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.

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28 thoughts on “WAMM, WIAN, part I: A hoarder

  1. So many of those things I found myself nodding, like, ‘done that!’

    I’ve always been a collector, even before anorexia. I’ve also had problems hoarding food, even in childhood!

    In the early days of anorexia I used to hoard clothes… I would run up a huge credit card bill buying things I had no intention of wearing/ didn’t fit and so on. It extended to food later too. I had some chocolate bars that I would look at, I had packets of biscuits ‘just in case’, you know if someone came round. I also have done the whole ‘I must eat the whole stash of my binge food to stop myself eating it later’… lol what? I always binged on food I didn’t like (still do!) Also even when alone I still find myself eating, hunched up in the corner of a room, in case someone sees me! Anorexia makes no sense!

    Like you I have improved, I find the hoarding is better. I rarely buy food I don’t intend to eat, I still get panicky if I don’t have three varieties of cereal in my cupboard, still, we’re getting there! :D

    xxx

    • Yeah it started with clothes for me too. And always post-binge. I would walk around town as a complete sugar-crashed, starved zombie buying clothes. In the beginning I managed to return most of it the following weeks but you have no idea how much I gave to friends/family or sold on Ebay when I moved back in with my parents!

      Yeah I had a stash of cookies, a carton of milk (WTF?) and a few bars of chocolate hidden in my underwear drawer in my old place. And I lived there with only my friend, who NEVER went into my room nor did she ‘use my food’ so hiding it made NO sense whatsoever. But it did to me, at the time?

      I ate in secrecy for so long. Hidden in my closet, in the backyard, on the loo etc. Horrible and also completely unnessecary. Even in recovery I would eat my food in the kitchen while the rest of the fam was at the table. I just could not eat in front of them.

      No longer!! And even my hoarding is gone. I did not have the need to have three kids of something, I just always had to have ‘extra’. Like, one box of cereal to use and one in the cupboards in case I run out etc. But then with e.free.thing. I had everything double ‘just in case’ for so long! But I dont do that anymore. My mum asked the other day if she had to get me some groceries. I said no, I have what I need. Then she asked; nothing you’re almost out of? And I replied; nah, and if I do, I’ll live. You cant imagine how shocked we BOTH were when that came out of my mouth! haha

      • I do the ‘almost out of’ thing too’ even though I live by a shop… who said anorexia ever makes sense! I can do varieties now, instead of three of the same (I do threes), also I’m having a mini panic because I’m almost out of cereal bars…. NO, I’M STAYING PUT! I DON’T NEED CEREAL BARS! lol

        Have you always binged then?

      • I did not identify my anorexia as such before the binges. Even way after that I guess. So the binges were already there long before I realized I had an eating disorder. I have therefore always disagreed with the label ‘anorexia’ because my binges were at least as, if not more, problematic as my fasts. Looking back though, my (non)eating problem probably developed through a mental short-cut from getting severely hungry when traveling through Papua, which happened more than two years before I was officially diagnosed with anorexia at a BMI10

      • Agreed, the binges are worse (especially when I was underweight, my blood sugar went crazy!) Also, the choatic eating is responsible for my mood swings! I have always ‘binged’ throughout my anorexia, more so when I was underweight, that’s why I asked :) Wondered if I was the only one. My food hoarding began with not being given enough to eat during childhood, parents forgetting to feed us and so on. I’ve always been afraid of not having food (although I deny myself… weird!)

        I used to ‘binge’ every ten days of so, and it did save my life (Much as I hate them!)

  2. Also, what a wonderful idea. I should really start thinking about these things. I became a liar, thief, hoarder, I lost all my dignity (eating out of bins, I’ve been there), lost friends, and so much of my life. Good to remember when I’m slipping!

    • Yeah this is the firsts I came up with. There’s probably so much more to add to this list. On the next post I’ll ask everyone for input into what ED (whichever kind) turned them into.

      I must say that when I wrote these posts (I have them finished already) it became even more clear how unnatural this illness is. Like, how it turned me into things that are so far from being ‘typically me’, it’s just crazy. And for so long! I cannot imagine what that must have been like for my friends and fam. The more objectively I can look (back on) at those days, the more respect I have for the ones that ‘stuck around’, that didn’t give up on me.

      • I wrote out a bit of my history and I felt the same. I got agoraphobic at one stage, and had a panic attack (with screaming fits) when a friend of mine came round and tried to make me leave the house… it’s a miracle she still speaks to me. I got worse when I started bingeing! My behaviour just got so erratic… I’m surprised people still speak to me sometimes!

        As for the clothes, I managed to shift some tiny clothes, that would probably make a small child very happy, but can’t throw out any of the others. My Grandma sat me down recently and told me I had a problem… ooooh dear! (They helped me move, my clothes took several car trips!)

      • wow.. never really thought that was all connected though. I’ve always been a hoarder, but more stemming from not being allowed to have stuff as a kid- Hoarded everything I could because I was jealous my other friends get bought fun stuff by their parents, and mine were too strict and too thrifty to “waste money” on anything more than educational stuff. So I hoarded. and hoarded. even things I don’t need and never used- just in case. ( hence why my room is such a mess.. :P) But at least that has sorta eased now that I realised I can get my own stuff as and when I actually need them.
        and ED IS illogical isn’t it? I too bought food I wanted. Heaps of it. And I binged on it all. ABsolute blocks of cheese. Chocolates. Cakes. Ice cream. Chips. Yet I couldn’t eat the same things in front of others- It’s not til I’m by myself in my room at night do I eat them all – how illogical is that that I can’t bring myself to eat the same stuff WITH others, when I know perfectly well that when I’m alone later on I’d eat it anyway? And I was terrified about buying more than a days worth of food, because I felt compelled to finish eating anything I had in my kitchen before I went to bed at night- it was a way to stop myself from bingeing- you can’t binge on food that you don’t have. All efforts out the window cos I’d wind up bingeing on my housemate’s food instead and then having to replace it.. *sighs*

      • As I said before, I rarely ever binged on foods I liked. Only maybe if there was nothing else on hands. But I can, however, relate to the not-eating-in-front-of-others but bingeing your brains out alone. Having 1 ice cream with the famz? Nooooo. Eating two entire boxes of granola the second they finish and you sneak upstairs? Done in an eye wink. And it made each other worse; not ‘being able’ to eat with the rest made myself feel shittier about myself (‘LOSER!’) so I’d ‘deserve’ a binge (= pain and humiliation) even more etc. Lovely

  3. Sooz that all sounds SO familiar! I have always been a hoarder too, and similarly my gathering of (basically, useless crap!) extended to food as well. It’s a lot better now, but I still find it hard to throw things away which have memories attached (I have 4 shoe boxes full of train tickets and gig tickets). They have no purpose, but every time I look at them I think “Ahh I remember when we went to see xxx, it was so much fun…” and it actually makes me remember my life before I was a boring anorexic. HA!

    I still have clothes from 15 years ago (yes, really) and stuff like old t-shirts that are so soft now because they’ve been washed so much. Comfort clothing ;). Oh, and the gift buying too! Even though I had no money whatsoever, I would go shopping multiple times a week and buy random things for my family. My Mum got so many clothes from me because I became addicted to buying people ‘treats’! My overdraft did not like it AT ALL. Mr Bank Manager hates me.

    Everything you have said in this post is so true, and hopefully I can de-clutter too! (Although, I now have a whole classroom to store my stationary purchases!) xx

    • Ánd your stationary gifts too! ;)

      And dont throw out the tickets. Seriously. Keep the memories, whats four shoeboxes in an entire house anyway? De-clutter of the negative stuffs, not the good memories

  4. ooh…

    i’m having trouble finding the right words.

    basically:

    i feel much closer to you now.

    aaand i reaaally hope that doesn’t sound as creepy as it does in my head, because that’s not at all my intention.

  5. Oh, Sooz, I can totally relate being a hoarder: books, jewelery, underwear, clothes, shoes, bags… food. Especially in my more anorexic years when I was restricting for weeks and storing food just in case. The case was definitely happening sooner or later… I love what you’ve written here on the whole. I’ll be looking forward to more as that list – yeah, I’ve done that except maybe the shoplifting, but I stole from my bf so – yeah, I can relate and feel beyond shameful.

    • Stealing from loved ones is maybe even worse. I’ll write about that in my other post too. And yeah the hoarding (even the non-food) is so stupid. Why keep all the stuff if you’ll never allow yourself to use it anyway??

  6. Anorexia made me less sociable. I would avoid all gathering events. In fear of food unknown, unplanned. So miss out on a lot of fun. Stuck to my jogging routine. The same daily lunch. Alone. Now things have opened up… how good freedom is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Yeah that’ll be the last one (for now?), the one that says it made me a ‘scared little mouse’. Cuz thats how I felt; little. Tiny. Scared and tiny

  7. another ‘little mouse’ poking my whiskery snout up here ;)
    Sooz… yes, just yes. All of this. And we keep it so secret. I’ve started talking a little about what I did to try and alleviate the secrecy and shame.. but still.. it’s so hard. Reading this tonight makes me breathe a bit more. I’m not alone. I know that, but I need constant reminders sometimes.
    I’m glad you can see that all this ^^ was NOT YOU. And that you are finding the REAL Sooz now that you are moving further and further from the grip of anorexia.
    Hoarding, I just can’t let this topic go without de-hoarding some of my own stories! Oh dear. Hoarding food has always gotten me into trouble. Even at hospital! I was always being searched and dehoarded by the nurses. I would have whole loaves of bread from the patient kitchen under my mattress – flatter than a pancake and inedible, but bread was still bread hey? I’d have apples that would somehow become 10 apples then 20 apples in my locker. I still think that apples must spawn like rabbits or something. I remember, too, being banned from leaving my room, but being so desperate to hoard food that I’d shuffle on my bum under the nurses station to get from my bed to the kitchen, where I’d fill up my pyjama pants with food (tucked into my socks and ugg boots at the bottom so it didn’t all pour out) and waddle back to my room with a cup of tea (I was on a strict fluid allowance and the “you are not allowed to drink tea” thing made me SO thirsty, I was forever trying to sneak fluids, and I used this as a ruse so if they caught me they’d tell me off for the tea and not notice my pants. Anyway, I got caught one morning, by my favorite nurse. And just as she was lecturing me on my fluid allowance, my pants split. Apples, sugar sachets, vegemite and jam sachets, salt and pepper sachets, coffee sachets, teabags – everything I could find in the kitchen (picked clean by hungry mental patients overnight) was in my pants, and now rolling in all directions out of my pants. Oh dear.. I still cannot remember that without laughing. It wasn’t funny then (although the nurse just cracked up laughing, bless her).
    To cut this all short.. I think that the deprivation/starvation thing pretty much guarantees that we will become hoarders, even if it’s not food. And perhaps there is an emptiness there, too, because by not allowing ourselves food and eating, we’ve not allowed ourselves all the ways that eating and life go together. Cut ourselves out of a lot of life – cut ourselves off from a lot of our loved ones.
    Anyway I’m off to bed… tirrrrred. Glad to read a post from you, it’s been a while! And such a helpful one to read. I owe you an email and I just want to say, I haven’t forgotten, and I’ll write back asap. Lots of love to you, my special friend xoxox

    • Haha oh yes, amen to stuffing fresh biscuits into my socks, nuts into my bra, bread into my sweater and ice-cream into my pockets. And then you’d have to move like a robot because of everything almost falling out. And then I’d lock myself in the bathroom or in my closet and finish it all, to return and do it again. This was the bingeing phase though, not the ‘hoarding only’-one. Awesomeballs.

      And where can I get multiplying apples? That would just be awesome!

      • I am so glad I’m not the only one!! LOL. I did it for hoarding and for bingeing too. For some reason, I wasn’t able to relax unless I knew I had as much food as I could have – even while I was being refed – how weird is that hey?
        multiplying apples? I think it’s called a tree hahahahahaha ;) xxxx

  8. Hey there,

    I’ve just found your blog and I can identify so much, too much!
    My hoarding career started as a child, I collected anything and everything, from soap to stationary to anything pretty
    I became addicted to drugs at 18 and so started hoarding pills of all kinds
    When I developed anorexia/bulimia it started to get out of control
    I was so ashamed of the amounts of food I was buying to hoard that I started shoplifting, and it didn’t stop at food. I started stealing and hoarding make up and jewellry. I still have 2 big boxes
    in my room of random stuff I stole that I didn’t want or need.
    Even in treatment I stole food from the kitchen, bought the shop out of chocolate and stole others food (and also from bins)
    I still tend to hoard but not as bad, I can’t resist a lovely new notebook, oh and pyjamas, I have millions of pyjamas.
    I’m so glad to have found this post and read everyone’s comments and know that I am not alone, so thank you from a girl whose a little bit lost.

    I’ll look forward to reading more x

    • Hey there Ruby!

      I find it so fascinating we all do the same ‘silly’ things, even when we all have NO clue it is part of the disease. So weird!

      And don’t be lost. Please. There’s so many of ‘us’ here and together we will get through, we will fight through. We will make it. There’s so much good stuff out here waiting for us!

      Feel free to shoot me an email whenever you want
      Love, Sooz

  9. Pingback: WAMM, WIAN, part II; A shoplifter « THE WORLD OF CHAOS IN MY HEAD

  10. Pingback: WAMM, WIAN, part V; A scared little mouse « THE WORLD OF CHAOS IN MY HEAD

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