It is, as much as I don’t want to accept it, coming up to Christmas and the ‘party season’. My dirty 30’s are looming with my birthday at the start of December and we don’t usually stop until the start of January do we? For a lot of people Christmas and December is a magical time that they are very excited about and that’s great. Personally, I have never particularly cared for Christmas, for me it just has no spark. This year, especially, I had spent a lot of time picturing waking up with that someone and because that’s not going to happen, that spark has gotten even duller.
I am not, for once, going to run on about my ever-so-slightly chaotic love life. (Alright, you don’t need to be that happy about it). Instead I want to raise the issue of how difficult party season can be for some people. There are many issues around this time of year, but the one I want to discuss is because I don’t think it is often thought about.
A little-known fact about me. From the age of 14 and throughout my teen years predominantly, I struggled with bulimia. I never really talk about it because I never feel my case was ‘bad enough’ to talk about and I’ve never wanted to take anything away from a serious issue. (In fact my type of bulimia is considered an ‘OSFED’ type – a kind that isn’t as frequent or as extended as the full on type of bulimia). I sometimes have thoughts of doing it now if I have a particularly bingey moment. I was a chubby kid for several years. I got called names you know, all the standard cruel kid stuff. I started to slim out through high-school, but by that point you’re kind of labelled as a ‘fat kid’, so I never really felt comfortable in myself.
So, for many years, I was constantly thinking about how I could throw up after eating. What a lot of people don’t realise is that eating disorders are serious mental illnesses. I consider myself lucky that mine was ‘mild’ but I know now that it was because of my low self-esteem and I was probably depressed a lot younger than I consider myself to have been.
Bulimia is the one eating disorder I have had experience with, my mother was far too hawk eye and I not savvy enough to get away with not eating at all. I spent hours trawling the internet for what they called ‘thinspiration’ and tips on how to make throwing up easier. It was obsession. Thankfully, I am now happy with my body and how I look. I’m on the slimmer side of things, I range from a 6-10 (thanks clothing shops for lack of consistency…) but importantly, I am healthy weight for my slightly horizontally challenged self. I work out to get strong, not skinny.
I cannot remember how I got over it, in all honesty. I think my 5-7 days at the gym took the edge off and my poor mental health came out in other ways and as you all know. The poor self-esteem didn’t leave me and peaked earlier this year, some 10 years or more on. The thing that sparked me to write this blog was partly because I have gone to the gym 9 days in a row so far, and yesterday I felt I -had- to go and that’s when I know I need to pull back because I will start feeling guilty, stressed and obsessed, which is dangerous for me. The other reason was, I was watching a Christmas advert laden with food and I just started to think about how difficult it is for people who fear food.
There are so many different forms of eating disorder and I would encourage you all to look at this site: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk to learn more about the different kinds and symptoms to look out for. It can be anything from an obsession over only ‘pure’ food, being extremely restrictive, not eating at all, emotional overeating and such like. One other thing I will stress – Men suffer eating disorders too, please do not write men off from this, they account for a quarter of all eating disorders. Another thing to watch out for is that 80-85% of eating disorder sufferers are not underweight as stereotypically assumed. I never was. If you’re concerned about anyone, check on the Beat website and seek advice. I am still a novice in this area, I am still learning and need to learn more so I don’t want to give bad advice based on only my experience.
So, this time of year is difficult for people with mental illnesses, and in this case the mental illness being eating disorders. It is an obsession which is difficult to hide amongst the parties and the social gatherings. It causes further anxiety and fear for people who have eating disorders. So please observe and think about others. Christmas is a happy time for a lot of people and I don’t wish to be a grinch for those of you who enjoy it, but please do just take a little time to check on the people you love, because they maybe finding this time of year more difficult than you think.
If anyone does want to talk about this issue further then please do feel free to engage with me for a chat. Until next time!