3 Popular Myths About Having An Eating Disorder

Thought Catalog

Alagich KatyaAlagich Katya

Let’s talk eating disorders. As someone who has suffered from an eating disorder on and off for the past 10 years, I am always a bit shocked at some of the assumptions people make when I tell them. I don’t think it’s a matter of ignorance, just a lack of education on the topic in our society as a whole. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t know much about it either if I hadn’t lived through it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “oh, so you throw up after every meal?” or “were you just trying to get attention?” No, no, those things aren’t necessarily true of every person who has an eating disorder – as with any disorders, the situation is different and unique for everyone who struggles with it. Let’s go through what I believe to be the three most prominent myths:

MYTH: You can…

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I’ve been away recently.

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Sorry about that, you see I have had to move all of my belongings across the country (from my uni flat to my parents house). Which meant ROAD TRIP! And also that I’ve been travelling for fourteen hours straight and I could just about collapse and fall asleep. I also haven’t had my meds at all today which is awful but I will survive I say. 

So, apart from being misgendered constantly by my dad and him being patronising and mildly transphobic, it was pretty good. 

I also came home to discover my mum had tidied my room and put all my sextoys, lube and condoms neatly in a box on my shelf. 

That was… nice of her I guess. I love my super liberal, open minded, sex positive mother XD

Anyway, I’m too exhausted to write a real post right now, so this will have to do. Will be back to regular programming soon. Peace out guys x

Boys Don’t Cry

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I think you raped me, I just need to admit it.

 

It’s been two years, one month and two weeks and I’m only just really starting to admit what happened. At first I thought I must have been misremembering because I can’t be certain I said no, I know I didn’t want to but did I say that? I don’t know. I was asleep when it happened, so I guess it was impossible for me to consent. Is this the cause of everything terrible that’s going on in my head? No you can’t be, because I was screwed up like this before that. Except I’m not the same, I’ve changed, I know I have. It changed me and sex doesn’t normally just change a person does it? I guess maybe if it’s the first time or it was particularly memorable… If it wasn’t what they say it was, then it wouldn’t have changed me. I guess I’d have wanted it to. I wouldn’t see your face when I try to go to sleep and I wouldn’t cry, shaking in the fetal position because the song ‘Boy’s Don’t Cry’ came on the radio. That song was in the club the night before it happened, I wonder if you knew that. 

You shouted at me and got angry because you couldn’t make me cum, it’s weird that that’s one of the few things I remember. I also can picture vividly you kissing my neck – your lips were like sandpaper, I can feel it right now. I can feel you on me, touching me. I thought for a while it couldn’t possibly be what everyone was saying it was, because that stuff doesn’t happen to people like me. Not to people you know, or to boys. Now, it just happens to other people – a friend of a friend or someone on TV.

I guess the other thing that means it must be what they say it is is the fact that it still hurts. My life is ruined, I guess it’s normal to go through a phase of denial. Why didn’t I prosecute? I went to the police, I did everything right. I just didn’t prosecute. I wonder if you did it to other boys, maybe girls. You could be still out there doing the same thing right now. Maybe you’re sat in a club preying on the unsuspecting, the two drunk to fight back or remember. 

 

The weirdest thing is after it happens, everyone is really upset. It’s like it happened to them to but it didn’t – they have no idea what it’s like. It happened to me. Only me. They might be able to picture it, I’m sure it’s haunting them, I’m sure they want to castrate and hang the bastard. It’s just, that’s not how I feel because I still can’t quite believe it. You may not understand why I didn’t go to the police, or why he’s not behind bars. But that’s not the weirdest thing, the weirdest thing is after six months or so, maybe even less… Everyone else moves on and forget it happens, until you have a breakdown, until you mention it, until you mention nightmares. People assume that it can’t still be hard for you because it’s not for them, the pain fades and so does the memories. They’ve let go, so they assume you have too. Only, I didn’t let go. The wound is still sore, bleeding, it’s never going away. It’s engraved into my bones, the pain and memories won’t stop I just need to come at peace with it.

How can I come to peace with it when it’s been two years one month and two weeks and I can barely comprehend that I was raped? How can I let things go when I still close my eyes and see his face, feel his lips – those sandpapery lips against my neck, against my cheek. How will it ever stop hurting when I can’t feel safe any more? Everyone said I’d get through this, and yeah I guess it got a little easier for a while. For a while. But today ‘Boy’s Don’t Cry’ was in a movie and I still curled up and started to cry, because that was the song that played in the club the night before.

I’m fairly certain I have an undiagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder

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Normally, I’m not the one to research about illnesses online and be convinced I have the illness. Usually I’m the opposite: it took me forever to admit I had trich, carpal tunnel, anxiety, depression and I’m just starting to admit I might have a back problem despite the fact it’s been aching on and off for several years now. However, in this case, I’m mildly convinced I have it and it’s gone undiagnosed for several years now.

The more I think about it, the more I realise how neuroatypical some of the things I do are. I can kick out anger, depression, giddy and then terrified all before breakfast. And it’s becoming a real problem. I guess I just have a lot of emotions.

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I have so many moodswings I can’t keep up with it in my own mind any more. A lot of the time I just feel empty and then I get seriously angry for no reason at all. I start crying at episodes of Glee – Glee. That is a statement that bleeds irony. The last argument I had with my girlfriend involved a minute of me screaming angrily at her, then I started crying at her feet begging her not to leave me. I’m not sure what I consider that, but I’m fairly certain it’s not neurotypical. That being said, we don’t actually argue very often… which is very knew for me. Which leads me onto the second reason I think I have BPD: I can’t have a normal relationship. Now, except for the relationship I’m in with my girlfriend Ellie now… all of my relationships have been new levels of dysfuntional and emotionally abusive, on both sides. It would be passionate as hell, often proclaiming myself as ‘would die for the other person’ and then 30 seconds later be screaming at them for how much of a prick they were. For some reason, Ellie is different. We very rarely argue and when we do we manage to end up discussing it like rational adults. I guess they’re just very good at calming me down and dealing with my mood swings. 

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The only problem with our relationship is I’m terrified that I’m going to be left alone. This isn’t only the case in our relationship: I feel this in regards to my family and my friends… Everything. I have an extremely irrational fear of abandonment and it’s only now at moments when I’m thinking semirationally that I realise that it’s a ridiculous thing to even be considering. That being said, I spend 90% of my day terrified Ellie is just going to realise she was stupid to get involved with me, I’m terrible for her, get up and leave. She says repeatedly that she won’t and I do believe her – sort of. My subconscious just won’t, it keeps yelling about how it’s just a matter of time before she goes and leaves me alone. I’m certain this fear abandonment and certainty that everyone is two steps from leaving is purely delusional – but knowing that doesn’t seem to help. And because of that, I end up being insanely jealous… I can’t stop it and I’m trying to repress those feelings but they just won’t go away.

 

There are other signs: impulsiveness, urges to self harm, hallucinations, hearing voices, times of feeling suicidal, intrusive thoughts, an unnatural amount of empathy – to the point where I can’t help my friends with their problems because I feed off their mood. If they’re sad, I immediately become depressed, I think about selfharming and I can’t get over that – it’s like their problems are mine all of a sudden. I’m trying to distance myself trying to stop but it’s not that simple at all

So there we have it, it’s why I think I have BPD. I might be wrong but there’s one thing I know for certain: ever since I researched about the idea of BPD, I’ve suddenly felt like I understand. It’s like all of a sudden I know exactly why I act the way I do, why I do certain things and think a certain way. It all makes sense now.

My Mental Health Part 2: Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Yesterday, I presented my post about my experiences with trichotillomania, for the next part of my experiences with Mental Health series I’m going to be discussing how I’ve coped with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The two are very closely linked but not the same and probably led to my, if not cause, my trichotillomania. 

 

Warning: the following contains mentions of rape, molestation, panic attacks and domestic abuse.

 

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

 

Generalised Anxiety Disorder is a form of an anxiety disorder which is categorised by excessive, uncontrollable (and sometimes irrational) worry. For this to be diagnosed as a disorder, the person in question must be diagnosed with this mindset for a period of at least six months. This excessive worry often interferes with a sufferers daily life as the sufferer is prone to be overly concerned about everyday matters such as: health issues, family matters, death, friendship matters, relationship problems, work problems etc. It’s not only a psychological issue, it also can display a lot of physical symptoms. The cause for most of these is the reaction to your body producing far too much adrenaline and under panic situations (which happen for too often) the blood rushing to the necessary places (heart, head etc). This is the case when the GAD is down to a chemical imbalance, such as in my own case. Physical symptoms can include: fatigue, fidgeting, headaches, nausea, numbness in hands and feet, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, bouts of difficultly breathing, difficulty concentrating, trembling, twitching, irritability, agitation, sweating, insomnia, hot flashes, rashes and restlessness.

 

In my personal case, I have a tendency to feel the majority of the above in terms of physical symptoms. When I’m having a panic attack I feel numbness in my hands, nausea, difficulty swallowing and I start hyperventilating. I’ve had panic attacks over the most unimportant things, such as a missing book. There tends to be a trend in my panic attacks however, for example I have phobias of hospitals, crowds and public speaking. So the three tend to lead me into a frenzy.

 

It’s a common misconception that GAD doesn’t come with any physical symptoms and that “everyone gets a little worried sometimes”. Sufferers of anxiety are often obsessive in certain traits in order to get control over their life, the idea of losing control can cause further panic. The fact that they are over-dramatising and in fact, everyone gets a little worried is another thing that can cause extreme anxiety. It can be worry that causes people not to leave the house, interact with people. I’ve been known to risk my health extremely due to my fear of hospitals, for example. A fear which is related to my anxiety and is proven since, although hospitals still make me nervous, it’s controllable with my meds and counselling. 

 

GAD is treated through therapy, medications and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The idea is, the only real cure is you have to “unlearn” traits that you have picked up through your body processing too much adrenaline and use medication to control the imbalance. In my case I am being medicated with “Sertraline” (trade names, Zoloft and Lustral) and will, at some point in the future start CBT. As to whether I ever fully get over my GAD remains to be seen. 

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

 

PTSD goes hand in hand with GAD, they are more or less, two sides of the same coin. The difference is PTSD is about individual events that have traumatised the sufferer, which is why it’s really common in soldiers. There are many things, other than war zones that can cause PTSD and sometimes it’s not just one thing, it can be many events which have caused a person to snap. One of the main symptoms of PTSD is that flashbacks can cause flashbacks to other bad memories, that’s what makes flashbacks so awful. You feel like you are surrounded by these bad memories – it’s as if you are being forced to relive the memory and when you try to escape it… You’re met head on by another terrible thought. 

 

Many things can cause PTSD, in my circumstances it was a combination of things: childhood molestation, domestic abuse and rape as a university student. All three events would have caused trauma by themselves but as a combination they have effectively, ruined my life. I find myself plagued by nightmares of the events, thinking about them leads me into fits of crying, shivering and like I’m about to have a panic attack. I can’t enter certain places or take part in certain activities without being haunted by these memories. I can’t listen to “Boy’s Don’t Cry” by the Cure due to the fact it was the song I sung at karaoke the night of the rape, some acts of intimacy with my girlfriend are out of the question because it just brings harrowing thoughts to what happened. I can’t physically take not being in control, I can’t trust as easily as I would like to. One day, I hope my PTSD will subside and the symptoms will become easier to cope with… It’s unlikely the causes of it will ever go away however.

 

These traumatic events don’t just leave me with flashbacks and panic attacks, I feel as if my body isn’t my own any more. (Or maybe my skin is not my own, perhaps? Okay, bad joke.) I feel as if someone has violated and taken away my freedom in the worst possible away, the emasculated me. They have, in a sense, metaphorically castrated me. There isn’t much help for male rape and domestic abuse victims you know, particularly not a transmale.

Trich update

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Since my posts today seem to be trich related, I guess it would hurt to have a small rant of that nature.

So in the last couple of days I’ve started pulling on my scalp again. For a while I’ve been scratching and doing it on my legs and I guess I convinced myself because I was doing that instead it’s not a problem. The main issue is when it’s on my scalp I tend to go at my scalp for an hour or two a day (more or less) and bald patches are starting to show like last time. My hair is really short apart from on top… so it’s really hard to hide. And since I’m temporarily living at my parent’s house… hiding it from them that I’ve started again is going to be so difficult. Wearing scarves and beanies is probably going to be what I do to try and hide it but the UK is being uncharacteristically hot atm. So that’s going to be torturous.

I’ve also not told my girlfriend about this yet… I don’t know, she’s just got back from Portugal and she’s exhausted. I know I’m going to have to tell her before I see her because she will notice but I really don’t want to upset her. She also has a skin-picking habit that it might trigger her with, I’d hate to be the reason she starts doing that again.