Oh You Pretty Things (don’t you know you’re driving your mamas and papas insane?)

The symptoms of eating disorders are astonishingly similar in most sufferers. We display exactly the same thoughts and behaviours at the same stages of our illness, like babies hitting developmental milestones.

While you are still in denial, or if you still think it’s a purely “psychological” condition, a response to formative experiences, this is insulting to your independence. As you come to terms with the biological aspect, the synchronised choreography of our declines makes more sense: we are all the same species and our brains are constructed of the same materials, to the same plan. They starve in the same manner.

How we came to this state seems to have some variation, though. Many, often teenagers, often teenage girls, seem to negate themselves in a demonstrative fury of self-hatred. They actively renounce food as a way of denying the world that has wronged them and made them unhappy.

Not me. I lack their strength, their venom, their diabolical energy. Theirs is a more glorious immolation.[1] Is it really the same condition?

I never even completely skipped a meal. There was always some little scrap to masquerade as food and punctuate the barren wastes of time and hunger. I just, you know, … dieted. As people do. I just made sure I was always in calorie deficit. I gradually dialled up the exercise and dialled down the portion sizes.

But I didn’t want to revert to being a slob.

And I didn’t know how to stop.  (Still don’t.)


[1] A classic symptom of anorexia is comparing yourself unfavourably with the commitment and ferocity of other sufferers.

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