As a child I would use my allowance to buy candy. I intended to have it for a period of time, but I would always end up eating it all at once. I would try to make it last, but I seemed incapable of stopping. Thus began my disordered relationship with food.
Growing up, I spent lots of time in my room, alone, reading and re-reading the same books, over and over. I would lie on my stomach, with the book propped up against the pillow. Hidden behind the pillow would be a pile of freezer pops and a pair of scissors. I would bolt to the basement freezer, grab a strip of the colorful, artificially flavored pops, and shove them into the waistband of my shorts to hide them under my shirt in case my family saw me. I would flee up the two sets of stairs, back to the safety of my room, to gorge myself in secret. If my brother or parents were to come into my room, it would appear that I was simply enjoying a single freezer pop, with a dozen empty wrappers safely hidden away.
My first memory of depression is from when I was in my early teens. I don’t remember a lot of what was going on in my life, but I remember an immense sadness that was more than just simple teenage angst. I spent endless nights crying myself to sleep without knowing why. I was extremely introverted, painfully shy, unable to focus in school with poor grades to show for it. Looking back, I am not sure how my mother, a nurse, did not make the connection that I had attention deficit disorder.
I was in my late teens when I first remember having issues with skin pulling, i.e. dermatillomania. I had always had trouble leaving scabs alone. Something was there, on my skin, and it was a strange sense of satisfaction to pull it off. I began destroying my thumbs, primarily, pulling the skin away from the sides of the nails, to the point of drawing blood. I am still this way, and it’s often times compulsive and uncontrollable. It becomes worse when my anxiety flares. I have learned what the “good” bandages are, and which ones will start coming off right away. At times, covering my fingers is the only way to keep myself from pulling.
At 20, I became involved in what turned out to be a controlling, manipulative relationship. It was so subtle that I didn’t even realize it was happening. My insecurities, disorders, and naiveté were preyed upon, exploited, and used to make me feel worthless. It happened over a decade of time, so again, very subtle. Even when I started running marathons and lost weight, I was told, verbatim, that “it’s good to be hungry” and that there was nothing wrong with fasting. At my lowest weight, I would come home from running 20 miles, and was told that I should eat something “light” so that I wouldn’t undo all the running I just did.
It’s taken a lot for me to get where I am these days, despite the disadvantages I’ve been handed in life. I’m coming out of a severe episode of depression, finally seeing the light at the end of a ten month long tunnel of darkness. I’m using all the tools I can to get control of the things that have been controlling me for so long.
It’s really quite delightful and refreshing to be on this side of my life.