Personal Update: Eating Disorder Feelings. Plus News Article

Content Warning: This post contains detailed discussion of eating disorders, disordered eating patterns, and dysmorphic body image.

 

Our living situation remains pretty much the same. B is frantically looking for work. We’re awaiting word on SNAP and his unemployment payments but it’s likely the shutdown will further delay these things. We’re trying to make it on ~$50/wk and it’s brutal. Some of my friends have helped out by sending/giving us money for food/gas but it’s been difficult to find a way to eat enough, especially since the food bank we usually go to often only has random things like bread and veggies; nothing to really make meals with. We’ve started to go to the Salvation Army food bank, which we haven’t gone to before due to their policies on LGBT+ and non-Christian people, but they give out food boxes to the needy that you can actually build meals with.

Dealing with my eating disorder during this time continues to be difficult at best. I’ve lost weight. I can tell because my clothes are looser on my body, not because I’ve weighed myself. Part of me is thrilled beyond words because I hate how my body looks at the weight I’m at but then I try to remind myself that I hated how I looked and thought I was “fat” when my ribs were visible. I’m unsure if I’m really as heavy as I see myself in the mirror or if my ED is lying to me. Probably the latter.

We’ve had more access to food the last week or so but we’ve not been eating more as a result. I don’t want to yo-yo between this starvation mode and gorging myself on food to the point I feel sick and B just hasn’t noticed when he’s hungry lately so neither of us realize it’s been more than seven hours (or longer) between meals. It doesn’t help that B recently confided in me that he has disordered eating thoughts and has for years. I’ve suspected for a long time but I haven’t pestered him about it. We’re quite the pair.

The stress we’re under is causing my other health issues, such as my fibromyalgia and eczema, to super flare, too. Something has to change soon.

 

Now that I’ve updated on personal things, onto the news video I found that infuriated me: An 11-year-old girl in Florida was sent home with a letter from her school recently. That letter stated that she was “on a trend” to be overweight according to the BMI and her health is at risk. This girl is incredibly physically active and doesn’t look overweight at all. Her mother’s fighting it and talking to the media. The media, in turn, is talking to doctors who buy into the BMI hogwash, despite all the evidence that it’s bunk and is not a good indicator of health.

Here‘s the link. Watch with caution due to discussion of weight, BMI, and doctors harping on how being skinny is the best way to be healthy.

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Negative Body Thoughts

This post has a stricter content warning for disordered eating than usual.

My fiance has missed two days of work this week, which is a lot of money, because of being sick. He doesn’t have any paid time off yet and no healthcare. We’re short on rent and also food is very scarce. The food bank was closed today (they’re normally open Tuesdays) due to the holiday and we’re totally out of food that can be constructed into  a meal by itself.

When things get like this, I have trouble keeping the negative body thoughts away. I can’t help but think about how heavier I am than I was just a few years ago. That leads to thoughts of being “fat” and how I could use to not eat because of that.

The reason that I get like this during times of food instability is because of how my dad and step-mom would “forget” to buy me food in my late teens. I haven’t really gone into that here before because I’m nervous about them finding out this blog and the fallout but my dad and I have been talking about these things so I think it’s okay to talk about now.

In my late teens my stepmother’s various mental health problems reached a new peak of intensity. She started segregating the food supplies; there was food that only me and my sister could eat and food that my dad and her could eat. If she didn’t buy us food, we didn’t eat.  I have ALWAYS struggled with food and this new food restriction was just the icing on the cake.

I started hoarding what food I got. The less food I thought I was going to have in the future, the less I ate and the less I ate, the more my food stash grew.  And the negative body thoughts kept growing and growing until my body had wasted away and my bones showed up through my skin.

And that is why I’m struggling so hard right now.

Jul Blessings

When my fiance went to the food bank on Tuesday, they gave us a whole turkey, cookie dough, and stuffing. As I mentioned previously, they gave us cranberry sauce and canned asparagus last time we went. We already have potatoes. The only thing we need to figure out is some gravy and maybe a pie or another dessert. So, thanks to the generosity of others, we are able to have a really nice Jul feast, which is something we would not have been able to do without the food bank. Traditionally, you’d have boar (ham) on Jul but turkey is lovely as well.

Another small blessing we have is that my fiance has Jul (today) off of work so we can celebrate without having to work around his schedule.

Have a wonderful and blessed Jul!

Food Banks and Eating Disorders

This post is inspired by Normal Girl’s post about a similar issue.

As I’ve mentioned before, my fiance and I have been struggling with poverty for some time now (about a year). It got to the point this time last year that we only had the food that the local-at-the-time food bank (I’ll refer to it as JAC from now on) gave us and nothing else. We’ve been in that place again since September, when we were evicted from our apartment (due to us being unable to pay rent on time since my fiance lost his job in April) and entered a period of housing instability in addition to the food instability that we were already experiencing.

The experience at JAC versus the food bank we go to now (LC from now on) are vastly different. I think it might be because JAC is in a large metropolitan area and more people rely on it and LC supports a city so fewer people rely on it.

JAC does things by verifying your need (you had to live within JAC’s county and have an income below a certain number for number of people in your household). If you qualified (and we did, obviously), you would be put into their system and you would be allowed to go 6 times within a year of your first visit date. When you went to claim your food (which you could do same-day), you’d wait in the waiting room for your number to be called, then you’d go back into an office and a worker would ask if you had any food allergies/dietary restrictions, sometimes the worker would ask if you had pets (by pets they mean dogs or cats), if you had a kitchen to use and a fridge, how you were getting the food home, and if you wanted coffee. Then you’d wait in the waiting room for your last name to be called. Sometimes the wait could be a few minutes, sometimes several hours; it just depended on how many people were there. When your name was called, you’d go up to a window (think teller window at a bank, sort of) and they’d hand you a box of food after confirming your name.

Sometimes they would have bins of items marked “take what you need” or similar. Often times, a small group of people would descend on these bins like vultures, grabbing armfuls of  the items, more than they possible could eat before it went bad, and block other people from getting to the bins. It was especially bad if it was something like pizzas or sweets, rather than day-old brad. It’s possible that some of the people JAC serves feel more frantic because the way that JAC gives out food, or maybe they feel scared that there won’t be enough food for everyone in the waiting room, or maybe I’m giving these people too much credit and they’re just greedy. All I know is that being around that was difficult on me due to my eating disorder so my fiance usually went by himself so I didn’t get hoard-triggered more than being food unstable makes me already.

How LC does it is vastly different. To qualify, you need proof of address in the city/county that LC serves (such as utility bill, pay stub, or other mail you’ve received in 30 days), and proof of need such as a recent pay stub or proof of unemployment or disability. You would be approved or disqualified right there, within 5-10 minutes (versus the hours it took at JAC). LC is set up more like a grocery store. It’s inside a large warehouse and there’s racks of food with signs that say each household can take whatever number of item on the rack, freezers, and pallets of vegetables. You can take a small grocery cart and shopping bags and follow the queue around the u-shaped aisle, picking out what you’d like best. The line to get inside can be long but it’s much less chaotic and triggering to me than JAC is; there’s no vultures keeping everyone away from the “take what you need” racks, there’s no endless waiting. It’s a smooth system and much easier on me. The workers, also, are a lot less frazzled and more friendly than at JAC. You’re also allotted “commodities” every month that you can collect when you wish: this month was canned cranberries, orange juice, canned veg, and some frozen chicken.

At LC, we can go 2x a week as long as we continue to meet the need requirements (income, living within the zone). They also rely heavily on fresh food and we rarely get canned goods from them.

I wanted to write this post from my analytical perspective as someone with an eating disorder, with as much detail as possible, so that anyone else who has food issues, such as hoarding, food sensitivities, and anxiety might maybe be put at ease and seek the resources available to them in their local community.

I should note here that I am VERY grateful for the help we received from JAC and we would have starved without their help, however, the experiences at JAC was much more stressful and hard than the experiences at LC.