Although I am loving my time in Oxford, the pressure to be independent and produce quality school work is stressful. Plus there is anxiety about maybe finding romance, what other people about me, figuring out my future, how to save money, not wanting to go back home, hoping people like me. . .the list could go on and on.
Thus, my eating disorder is manifesting itself in new ways. Binging has crept in a few times, and I am ashamed to say that I responded by using another symptom. Anorexia is a terrible disorder that is physically, mentally, and emotionally utterly draining. However, compulsive over-eating and bulimia have so much disgust and shame attached to them. Just thinking about those symptoms makes me feel dirty much less doing them.
So why is it that we attach so much shame to this illness? Why do we feel so disgusted with ourselves afterward? Part of it is the physical sensation. Being overly full or purging both make you feel gross. Sure, there is the immediate pleasure and/or relief, but soon the dirtiness and anxiety kicks in and berates you.
Then there is the response of others. People who figured out what happened to me while here have been so supportive. One girl spoke wisdom in one of my darkest moments. “We are all struggling to adjust and you are doing the best you can.” These words calmed me greatly.
However the act of using symptoms in this place that should be a safe haven for us makes me miserable. How dare I do something so crude? And who am I to waste food? Everything in me screams at my disgusting nature. Yet, keep myself from another binge has been a huge struggle. The one thing that I do look forward to when returning home is having my mom help with food. Trying to do it all by myself with it all in my room is so triggering.
A totally different area that caused disgust today concerned my PTSD. A girl from the program and I went out to eat. The food was fantastic despite my anxiety. Our talk was long and deep. However, something was wrong in the kitchen and so we ended up being at the restaurant for two hours.
We started to walk home at 10:40, but went in the wrong direction. By the time the mistake was realized, we were 30 minutes the opposite way. Although I enjoy walking at night, trekking back through the city at this hour was difficult. My anxiety began to rise. Although I was with my friend, every person we passed made me jump.
Unfortunately, many drunk people passed us. Most paid no attention, but one guy questioned, “Do you always dress like that?” I looked at my cute, new floral dress from a Oxford thrift store before glancing at him briefly. When he repeated the question, I nodded my head quickly. “It looks nice,” was his response. Although I giggled with my friend, fear filled me. As the man slowed in front of us and looked back at me several times, the other girl became nervous too. Every part of me wanted to scream and run away. Looking back, I realize that my PTSD was kicking in and making me feel frightened but also dirty.
My feelings shifted to completely disgusted with myself a little later. Three young men passed us, talking nosily. Although they parted for us to walk through, I heard them make several crude comments about my. . .gosh, even writing it makes me feel dirty. Sometimes I hate having a body. My PTSD thoughts tell me that it is bad, ugly, and only good for what other people want to use to for if even that.
The reason that I am writing about this is because addressing disgust in both eating disorders and PTSD is very important. So often people hide this emotion and carry the weight of it alone. If you are doing so, I encourage you to open up to someone that you trust. Be willing to let yourself be vulnerable. Also please know that you are worthy of good friends and kind treatment from others and yourself.