WAMM, WIAN, part II; A shoplifter

As I promised last week, here’s part II of a series of posts of ‘What Anorexia Made Me, yet What I Am Not’. This one will be a bit shorter (oh my, me doing a short post? Now that is messing with the Univserse?!) but I’ll probably make that up on the next posts again hihi.

What anorexia made me, part II: A shoplifter

I spoke about me having trouble allowing myself treats or special things on my last post. My anorexia fed (funny how that works ha?) on that as well. ‘Special treats’ became ‘mundane things’ very quickly. Where I would first not mind spending 50 bucks on a gift for friends yet I was not able to buy myself a nice tea-cup, it quickly got to the phase where I could happily spend 10 bucks on earrings for my roommate and not 0.63 cents (yes I remember the price to the cent) on a loaf of bread for myself. As you can imagine; this became a problem. At first I managed to find my ways around it. I would ask my roommate to do the groceries, or to leave me a list so I could ‘buy them for her’. But anorexia is a hard one to fool; and soon enough I was no longer able to cheat it.

One of my ultimate lows (warning; I have many ultimate lows) was when I went out to dinner with my bestie. She had come to Amsterdam and we decided we would go to my favourite Thai place. I had been extremely anxious for the entire week already because it had been a while since I’d seen her. And, her being a med-student with an ED past, she is not one to be easily fooled.

But she meant the world to me and I wanted to show her that. I wanted to tell her that I was still in here and that she should not give up on me as her father had asked her to do (I’ll explain a little later). I found a wooden ring in a store that reminded me of the rings we bought for each other when we were traveling through Thailand. Both of those rings had broken long ago and this seemed like the perfect replacement.

That is where the problem set in; anorexia nipped in and took over the decision. I was not allowed a new ring. So just buy her one, then? Why would I give her a replacement of ‘our’ rings without getting one myself? That did not make sense. I tried for weeks to find out her ring-size to get her a fitting one. When I finally set out to buy it for her, I did something I never did before and never thought I’d ever do; I stole the other one. I bought a ring for her, and stole one for me. Because I was not worth spending money on. I did not go back to that store for a year, because I was so scared. This story is even more sad when I tell you what the rings cost; 1 Euro each. A EURO. I stole a one Euro ring because even that one single Euro was more than I could fathom spending on myself.

Even to this day I feel guilty of this. More so than of any other stealing incident (more on that in a later post), because this involved something I did not ‘need’ to steal; I would have survived just fine without it. That doesn’t count for the other things I stole. This one incident led me to develop the habit of taking things that weren’t mine, but more on that next time.

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17 thoughts on “WAMM, WIAN, part II; A shoplifter

  1. Hey Sooz,

    When I was addicted to heroin I stole to feed my habit
    I stopped when I got clean but when my eating disorder developed I start shop lifting again
    I was ashamed at the amount of food I was buying and I was sure the check out girl knew what I was doing with all the food so I used to fill a big bag with food and walk straight out the door. I also started stealing from the chemist where I got my methadone. I stole anything and everything from jewelry to make up to dogfood, stuff I didn’t want or need
    I was so ashamed and it wasn’t until I was told in treatment that there is a link between eating disorders and shoplifting that I started to realise that others do this too.

    Since starting therapy I’ve stopped but I still get the urge sometimes
    I’m just so glad to know that I’m not the only one x

    • Definately not the only one. I’ll have to dive into the research behind it at some point to find out how it makes sense we steal&hoard. Like, addicted (and ED-people. But I suppose that counts as addicted as well?). I think it’s so weird, so weird we do this and so weird we do this without realizing its part of the disease.

      Good to hear you’ve been able to stop doing it! You cant control the urge but you can control how you act on it so all the more power to you for being able to not do it even though the thoughts sometimes still pop up. Thats amazing!

  2. It takes a lot of courage to write this, Sooz, thank you for sharing. Shoplifting has been a HUGE problem for me, too. Pretty much always food – especially when I’m stressed, triggered, hungry etc. I relate to the not being able to buy anything for yourself feeling – and it makes me so, so sad that you feel that way!
    I know you wouldn’t hate me because of all I’ve done. Please don’t hate yourself.
    I am looking foward to hearing more. Lots of love xxx

    • Actually blogging about it has been quite a relieve. Realizing I’m not the only one doing all this crazy stuff (believe me, stealing is just one of the many crazies) helps with the guilt and self-hate. We’re in the crazies together and we can also get out of the crazies together; of that I am (more and more) convinced

      • It does help me to talk about it too, having people say “I have done that myself” I realise not only do I not feel so alone, they don’t feel so alone either. I would not be surprised if there are a LOT of us out there with these same problems that we keep hidden. Thank you for speaking out! xxx

  3. :( really.. i wonder what the science is behind it all.. would be interesting to learn about it.. why do these behaviours come about eventhough we KNOW its wrong? and would rationally never do if we never had ED? It’s not like we can’t afford things, we can… For me it was.. food. I had trouble buying myself food at the supermarkets because.. if they came in non-pre-portioned packs, I was afraid I’d just binge and binge and binge, because I felt compelled to finish everything I bought. even if it was a 3L tub of ice cream. or 1/2 kg pack of cheese or a whole pack of cereal or a huge share size pack or 2 of chips. So I’d nick small portions of food from the work fridge.or from my housemates.. just enough for “individual” portions. got worse over time because after that I stopped getting takeaway single meals for myself either , because , well. it was no fun just buying food for ME alone. It’s ok to spend if i go out with friends/ family, but not if its only me.urghs. the logic behind it all… >< makes. no.sense. yet i did it….

    • I bought so many ‘portion sized’ stuff in recovery and oooo the irony of finishing a family pack of portionsized whatevers hahaha. Just down 20 small tubs of nutella, and then open 20 small packs of biscuits, to continue with 12 small boxes of cereal etc.

      And the food for me alone? I remember so well a conversation between me, my flatmate and my mum where I explained how I did not understand that she could eat chocolate or biscuits when home alone. I couldnt grasp it! To me, that was like drinking when home alone. Sometimes I wanted to, just because I like a good glass of wine every now and then or just to relax or to help me sleep or whatever, but I would never allow myself because, well, I just thought it was ‘wrong’ or it might even be like opening a Pandora’s box. Ofcourse they didn’t understand how I could not see the difference between eating a cookie when home alone or drinking a bottle of wine. But I could not fathom having a ‘treat’ (even a cookie with my tea would count as one) without an ‘occasion’ (which would require other people present to ‘celebrate’, or something). I cringe at the thought of that conversation now, and my naievity/oblivion. Oh how I hope they dont remember that conversation! (though they probably do…)

      Seriously, how OFF is (ED)reality?

      (And how much do I love my cookie with (or in, hihi) my tea now, even when home alone, WITHOUT BINGEING on it. Or my glass of wine with dinner every now and then? Or a load of licorice on the train etc? The difference with two years ago is sooo big)

    • I just replied to Fiona below about my little why-ANpeople-hoard theory ;) Totally made it up by own logic (which is not always logical in other people’s eyes) so have no idea if it makes any sense!

  4. Pingback: WAMM, WIAN Part III; A bin-ge eater « THE WORLD OF CHAOS IN MY HEAD

  5. I never had problems with stopping eating, or with taking what wasn’t mine, until my body was starved or I felt deprived. In hindsight, I can clearly see that part of what has brought all this about has been going without – and if you think of people who were in concentration camps, and people who have lived through famines, you will see a lot of hoarding going on in particular. I think add to that the low self esteem and the self hatred that most of us seem to have – and you have a recipe for stealing, hoarding, not allowing ourselves things (which makes the stealing/hoarding worse) and so on. Not to mention poor impulse controls. Around food, when I’m starving, I just cannot help myself. It’s like my arms and hands are not mine – they WILL reach out and grab anything edible in arm’s reach and squirrel it away for later because “I’m never going to get to eat again and I’m so so hungry”. All these things are what made sticking to meal plans not work in the early days after my first hospitalisation to – I was completely unable to eat my portion and stop. I threw away so much food rather than keep eating – these were pre-bingeing days and in the days before you could really get single portions easily too. That made me go back to restricting and bingeing started not long after. Argh. It all gets so complicated and the more we pull on it to try and untangle it, the more tightly tangled it seems to get.

    • I have a theory behind the hoarding, actually. But I have never checked in literature if it makes any sense (yet). Its that emanciation causes a chemical reaction in your brain, which triggers a survival mechanism somehow. Your inner, ancient human surival thingy gets activated. When your body is (severely) starved, it will want to make you eat/store/keep with you as much as possible, to save you now and to prevent damage again in the future. To me this makes perfect sense but like I said, I have not yet delved into this subject when it comes to literature and research!

  6. Pingback: WAMM, WIAN, part IV; A liar and a cheater « THE WORLD OF CHAOS IN MY HEAD

  7. I ‘liked’ this post because of your honesty. It’s so, so sad that you didn’t think you were worth even 1 euro :( I really wish you didn’t feel like that, because you’re worth so much more than 1 measly euro! xx

  8. Pingback: A Positive Month; Day 1 « THE WORLD OF CHAOS IN MY HEAD

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