Personal Experience: An Eating Disorder Journey (Part 1)
February 22, 2023
TW: Eating disorder
This personal story is in two parts because it is a story that isn’t quite over…It details my experience with eating disorders and my search for help and a diagnosis.
It began when I was 12, and my father became disturbingly concerned about my weight. I was always one of those chubby-but-not-really-overweight children, the kind that generally tends to lose their chubbiness as they get older, but this wasn’t good enough for my father who suddenly started making unkind remarks about said chubbiness.
I can remember eating salad in front of him and he said that I’d ‘get fat eating that’.
This behaviour went on for most of my life until about 2018 when he went into a home because he suffered from vascular dementia by that point.
By the time I reached my twenties, I was showing clear signs of bulimia and occasionally anorexia. I would alternate between extreme food restrictions, suddenly eating lots of food and then purging, usually by self-induced vomiting.
I also had drug and alcohol issues. There were days when most of my calorie intake came from cider.
My weight remained consistently normal but I felt tired all the time, lost hair and fingernails, and damaged my back teeth to the point where they later had to be removed, but I never got to the point where I was underweight. This part is very important because, when I finally tried to get help, the doctor told me that I ‘appeared to be a normal weight’ and wouldn’t refer me.
So it continued throughout my life- An endless cycle of restricting, binging and purging with no help because my weight was ‘normal’.
I’ve also been epileptic for most of my life. This is why, during one part of this endless cycle where I was particularly restricted, a neurologist gave me a severe telling off as my behaviour was likely to make my epilepsy worse. I was then prescribed Lamictal because it is used to treat both anorexia and epilepsy. It’s effective- but not ideal.
It can produce some pretty bad side effects like insatiable hunger. Personally, I think that it is only beneficial, if the eating-disordered person, is emotionally and psychologically ready to start recovery and undergoing some form of counselling at the same time.
Due to other side effects, I had to stop taking Lamictal after about three days but by then I was eating normally again. I did not have counselling. It was not offered to me.
Many years later I now show signs of a Binge Eating Disorder and here I go again trying to get help. I will be discussing how this works out for me in Part 2.
I’m 51, I have diabetes, osteoarthritis, and numerous other health issues which means I really can’t keep repeating this cycle. I also have a daughter who is now the same age as I was when this started.
Oh and my father? Sometimes, people with vascular dementia, end up unable to swallow food or liquid. He died, on May 16th 2021.