Today I Believe: Hunger
What do I believe about hunger?
Day 5: #TodayIBelieve Writing Challenge
Trigger Warning: Eating disorders, mental illness
I believe that hunger is powerful. When I was in college, I didn't eat. I don't mean that I was peckish or poor (well, I was poor, but there was usually something to eat), I mean that I literally did not eat food. I would sometimes go days without eating anything; instead I subsisted on Red Bull and water - sometimes not even water. In fact, the summer after my freshman year of college, I was hospitalized for dehydration. If someone asked me to eat with them, I could usually find an excuse not to go, or not to eat something. Or, if I did indulge myself and eat something, I would either play with the food a certain way to make it look like I had eaten, or quickly throw it up as soon as I was alone. The feeling of extreme hunger became comfortable, normal, and even preferred.
Hunger was the result of the putrefying, deep hatred I felt for myself - and no matter how sick it made me, it was still more desirable than actually looking this hate in the eyes and taking control of it. I wasn't able to do this because I didn't even know I had a problem. I thought I was just limiting what I ate because I was conserving money and trying to stay thin. People around me could tell what was going on, some even tried pointing it out to me. I would listen, but it was as if I thought that because I had heard them out that I didn't actually need to keep working on it and I would go right back to hiding my starvation and convincing myself that I wasn't skinny enough, beautiful enough, worthy enough...
Eventually for a number of reasons, I lost nearly all my friends, was doing shit tons of drugs all the time, sleeping around (and not in a sex-positive kind of way, but like a "I hate myself, please love me" kind of way), and had gotten hospitalized more than once for either stress-induced ruptured ovarian cysts, or on one occasion, dehydration.
I became hungry for something else - to heal. I discovered therapy. And through therapy, I discovered that the only true and real way to take care of your body is to take care of your mind. Trudging through well-established self-hate was the hardest, most important thing I have ever done.
Now, I still struggle with hunger. When I have bad MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) days, the hunger finds its way back and makes itself known. My mind defaults to wanting to starve my body in order to feel something, or, not feel something. Thanks to therapy I know how to fight myself for myself; and eventually the fight turned into something that's starting to feel like love for myself. It's not every day, but at least every two or three days I catch myself in the mirror and think how happy I am to see little fat rolls now. I fucking earned these rolls. I fought, and fought, and failed, and failed some more, and now I am the proud owner of these little rolls.
Today my hunger exists for bigger things: art, creativity, cookies, friendship, Thanksgiving dinner, nurturing, caring, LOVE. I committed to myself, and I got better. You can too. Commit to yourself; marry your healing. You can do this. I know you can. Hunger is a powerful thing and you can use it to make change. You can do this.
Eating disorders are so much more common than most people realize. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, "at least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S." This is roughly 9% of the United States population. They also mention that "eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness." If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call the ANAD Hotline, at (630) 577-1330.