Monday, May 20, 2013

Step One: I Have An Eating Disorder

I've been hiding a part of me for nearly a decade. Ten years of struggling. I'm terrified to share it now. I haven't told a single soul. But the deeper this secret lies, the easier it is to pretend that everything is normal.

I've spent ten years going out of my way to hide this. So it's very hard to finally share it. For that reason, I've hesistated pushing the "publish" button on this post. I'm afraid for people to know. Afraid of what they will think. I'm also ashamed. And afraid of disgust. All these years I've shrouded myself in a falseness. And all I really want now is to be the person that people think I am. If you know me in real life, please keep my not-so-secret as I slowly come to terms with this whole thing.

I have an eating disorder. It took me ten years to admit that because, until recently, I had convinced myself that it was no big deal. I'm not anorexic. I'm not bulemic. I do something much more disgusting. It's so absolutely ridiculous that it's hard to even type.

I chew food and spit it out. Like, lots of food. Candy mostly. Chocolate. Cookies. I've perfected this skill. Even worse, I've perfected the art of hiding this skill. I can do this in pure daylight. In the middle of a public space. In one sitting, I can spit my way through 36 granola bars, an incredibly large bag of chocolate, or an entire box of cookies. Or, on particularly bad days, all three. I do it until my tongue is raw and my jaw is sore. I fill plastic bags full of spit-up food and then go out of my way to hide them until I can dispose of them in secret. I do this nearly every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. For almost ten years.

I'm not sugar coating anything. It's as disgusting as it sounds. And there are no excuses.

Why? I don't know. I'm not depressed or anxious. I am happy about my life. I am generally happy about my appearance, although a little frustrated about the permanent squish hovering around my belly button (thank you my beautiful children, you are well worth it). I don't have any other eating disorders. I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I eat plenty. I eat anything. Although I maintain a general idea of my daily calorie consumption I don't count calories or obsess over them. I enjoy cake at parties. I drink beer and wine during happy hour. I don't make myself throw up if I think I eat too much. I don't over exercise. The rest of me is generally healthy.

So why this? Why? I don't know. I think I do it because, well, I LIKE to. In the past ten years, I've never really wanted to stop. Well maybe I've tried to stop here or there. But in the span of just two hours I would convince myself that I need it and I like it and it's not bad. I always tell myself that I can stop if I want to, it's just a matter of wanting to. But maybe that's the problem. I can't stop because I can't convince myself I want to stop.

This is why I'm afraid of people finding out about my secret. If people know I do this, then it will be harder to hide it and then I won't be able to do it. My worst nightmare is the fear of not having any candy or chocolate in the house when an attack hits me. And so I stock pile it. And when junk food is in the house, I cannot help myself. It's a self-fulfilling cycle.

I never started thinking about how serious this was until recently. One day I was listening to an ad on the radio for substance abuse/addiction counseling. The description of the alcoholic portrayed in the ad fit me perfectly. Excuses. Shame. Secretive behavior. Inability to control both my actions and what I desire. It was a wake up a call. I am an alcoholic. Just with food. I have a problem. It controls my life.

Why am I telling everyone this? I dont know. What will people think? I don't know that either. I know what I would think: What makes an apparently fully functioning person who is a wife, a mom, and a lawyer, engage in this type of crazy behavior. How can someone who is supposed to be educated and a role model and make good life decisions constantly choose to do someting like this?

It's scary to let go of a secret you've kept and fought to hide for nearly ten years. And I'm pretty sure that most people don't even know about this type of eating disorder. I didn't even know it was an actual thing until I Googled it tonight- it is called, not so shockingly, Chewing and Spitting or CHSP. Where do I go from here? Will I ever have the courage to tell people who are close to me face to face. Those closest to me and who do not read this blog (i.e. most people in my life) still will not know about it.

All I know is that this really is an illness and that I have a long road ahead of me. This post is just Step One. And it's time to really do something.

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