Christmas is coming, and it’s scary
It’s Christmas soon. I’m terrified.
I keep trying to find solutions, but there is no escape. It’s Christmas soon and I will have to sit at a table, facing everyone and eating what is served. It’s Christmas soon and I have an eating disorder. I’m terrified.
My closest friends know that I have been struggling with an eating disorder for years. For more than a decade, in fact. And I am only 21.
Many people, just like me, have an eating disorder and are dreading Christmas.
Christmas is lovely. You get to see relatives you haven’t seen in months, you catch up with them, you cook together, put on nice clothes, eat together, speak about the year and your New Year’s resolutions, go through family pictures and take more pictures.
Let’s keep Christmas lovely.
Let’s not make “you look good”, “you look tired”, “you’ve gotten thin”, “you’ve grown” the first thing we say to our loved ones. Let’s not brag about this new diet that gives you the body of a supermodel in two weeks, or that new highly intense workout routine we’ve been doing every morning before work.
Let’s keep Christmas lovely and not comment on every single body change. Let’s not pressure our loved ones into wearing fancy, tight, or revealing clothes if they don’t want to.
Let’s not comment on how much or how little they eat. Let’s not tell them what to eat, what not to eat, how to eat, when to eat, or what workout they should try. Let’s not pressure our loved ones into making drastic changes to their lifestyle on the 1st of January — changes they’ve been trying to make for years. Let’s give our loved ones room to breathe and let them decide when they are ready. Let’s support their gradual progress, without judgement. Let’s allow our loved ones to fail and succeed without judgement.
Let’s not comment on physical appearance in pictures dating back 15 years. Let’s forgive the shy and the self-conscious for not being in so many pictures.
Let’s make Christmas lovely for people who, like me, have forgotten how to eat. For people who, like me, are suffocating because of their illness and for whom every meal is a war, every bite a battle. For all the people like me who are in a cage of measurements, self-consciousness and self-loathing. For all those who suffer from an eating disorder.
Eating disorders are the deadliest mental illness in the world.
The eating disorder is with me all the time. Every day. During every meal. Every time I have to decide whether I’ll take the bus or walk. Every time someone looks at me. Every time I am in a room with someone else. It has become a part of me.
The eating disorder has taken over my life. I avoid social interactions that involve eating. I wake up in tears, having dreamt that I was being force-fed. I can’t study for weeks because I am too distracted and tired. I struggle to have a shower everyday because I don’t want to look a my body. I avoid mirrors as much as I seek them, and climbing on the scale is as terrifying as it is thrilling.
The eating disorder has disconnected me from the rest of the world. It has alienated me from my body, my physical sensations and my emotions. I have stopped feeling. I have stopped living my life. I only get up in the mornings to climb on the scale.
The eating disorder arose when bullying and sensory overload became too painful, when the emotions and sensations were too hard to live with. It wrapped me, coated me and blocked everything out. The pain didn’t matter anymore. Through the darkness of the eating disorder, I had gained control, confidence and safety.
The darkness of the eating disorder has stained every aspect of my life. Every good moment, every smile, every memory. It keeps out all the emotions, all the happiness and the joy, and lets in pain, anxiety and fear disguised as quietness, self-control and routine.
I am terrified about having to eat during Christmas. Everyday I worry more. And it’s not even December yet.
Let’s be kind and forgiving this Christmas. Let’s ask “How are you?” only when we really want to listen to the answer. Let’s put aside life advice about weight, shape, exercise and diet.
Let’s not make Christmas scary. Let’s make Christmas lovely.
If you or someone you know needs help: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/
More about eating disorders and autism: https://alicefarion.wixsite.com/gallery/fighting-an-eating-disorder
Something to cheer you up: