Saturnine

"The darkness brings me home, rewarding me with peace"

Dieting... and overdoing dieting... and even more overdoing

Outsiders might not know: there are no general rules which fit all anorexics, everyone who lives with anorexia has different "dieting" habits. Let us say, there are some who never eat more than 400 calories a day; there are some who do not eat every day, only every second day (or twice a week, or fasts for a whole week or more...) There are many who make distinctions between "safe" food and "guilty" food; others are so professional at self-torturing that they do not eat more than three bites of the "normal" (and possibly delicious) dinner, in aim to not eat more than 150 calories at one meal... There are, of course, many other crazy "eating" habits I could mention; anorexic patients are very creative at dieting and restricting their calorie intake!



No matter what actual habits the patient has (and these habits can vary from time to time; usually the restrictions get more drastic and drastic), food is the very thing that determines his or her every moment.
What to eat, how much (to be more accurate: how little) to eat; you have to make it without eating anything before 11 o'clock (later the limit will likeably be midday; one o'clock in the afternoon and so on, until you feel yourself a failure if you cannot bear it without food until 7 o'clock in the evening...) There are "safe foods" which are allowed to eat, in moderate amounts, though; there are gilty foods which must be avoided. Yo have to be punished for every guilty food you have eaten - punished with even more drastic restrictions, pain, tears and blood. (For the outsiders' sake, I emphasize that this is not symbolic. I also did not mean it as a bad joke, this is reality in an anorexic person's everydays.)



This dieting-madness may improve the illusion of independence for a while - since as long as you are dieting by following well-determined rules, you can feel "my own life, my own rules". But soon you have to face that this is far from reality. Sooner or later you have to recognize that it is not the rules that exist for you, quite the opposite: you are the one who exist for your "own rules" - which are so overwhelming that nothing and no-one can be as important in your life as the compulsion you feel, to fulfill your "own rules".

Not to mention how the food obsession gets stronger and stronger. Right after having eaten your lunch (of one half cellery root and two pieces of rice cake) you immediately start to concentrate on this question: when will the time for dinner come so that you can eat your dinner (of one apple and one egg white) - and this distracts your thoughts from everything else for the next 4...5 hours. And, the more time you spend considering this question, the more enormous you find this amount of food, and therefore you decide that the next day, you have to survive with one smaller beetroot and a small can of soy milk.

These rules sound very simple - extremely strict, but very simple -, yet keeping them will get on your nerves very quickly. In a longer term, they will surely help you with feeling yourself even more pathetic, since "how incredibly pathetic (primitive, idiotic... any offensive terms may come here) it is, to determine one's mood and happiness by a half cup of non-fat yoghurt!"

"Misery. This is ridiculous. This is shameful. Everybody can only be better than me. I have good reasons for feeling shame in front of everyone else. I am disgusting. I don't even have the willpower to starve myself to death. Though I would not worth more without starvation either! I worth nothing. I am good for nothing. I deserve no food. I deserve nothing good. I need to be punished. By everything I do, I make everyone else ashamed, and make new reasons for myself to be ashamed of. It is totally useless to make myself ridiculous over and over again. Everybody is laughing at me. No matter how hard I try, I am a niemand and I always will be."


The limits - for calories and for everything else - are getting closer and closer. Your perfectionism will overcome, and you will find the very same achievements getting smaller and smaller. After a while, you cannot find yourself successful for being able to keep a strict diet, so you decide to switch to an even more strict diet, in aim to get the same "achievement, success" feeling.

(It is quite similar to substance abuse, isn't it? When someone gets addicted to drugs or alcohol, (s)he needs getting more and more amounts of the given substance, in aim to get the desired effects; later, when the addiction totally overcomes, the addicted person does not use drugs or drink alcohol to get euphorical, but to avoid feeling bad. The main difference between substance abuse and anorexia is that in the first case, the patient is addicted to taking something, while in anorexia, the patient is addicted to denying something. They are nearly reflecting each other, don't they? {It is also remarkable that many anorexics - especially fashion models - use drugs to suppress their natural appetite; and, if one is high on drugs, it is easier to endure hunger.})

It is also a "very typical anorexic" thing to have a very distorted self-image. I think many people have heard about that anorexics find themselves fat, even if they are, in reality, very thin - but there is an extra detail which is not so well-known. The "conscience" of our "obesity" has a strong correlation to the amount of food we have actually eaten. At the normal phase, it is only "I still have some weight to lose!" At the "extra" phase, after having eaten too much, it is "I am disgusting, I have eaten way too much, I will get HORRIBLY fat if I continue this way!" Even if it is possible to comprehend that no-one gains 5 kilograms by eating one normal meal, this "distorted distortion" will likeably occur.

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