Eating disorders: Power & Control

By Jessika Endsley

Most people who know me in person know that I have or have had eating disorders. Everyone in highschool knew I didn't eat much, knew that I would make myself vomit, and the morons actually blamed me for another girls claims that she "caught my anorexia" (even though I was bulimic at the time) and all faith in humanity was lost.

An eating disorder is an addiction. It is not a disease. It is not a lifestyle choice (although it can turn into one to maintain the addiction.) Just like drug users have their underground behavior and community, so do the Ana's and Mia's. And people like me who are Bulimirexic, aka EDNOS.

I don't frequent pro-Ana forums anymore, although I spent a vast majority of my teen years making friends on them and I wonder where they went, or if they're even alive. It was against the rules to "share tips" but we learned from eachother anyway. We learned how to hide the sound of the purging, how to pretend we were eating when we weren't, and how to hide the weightloss. We taught eachother how to keep warm when we were starving, how to keep our electrolytes balanced enough to not have a heart attack from purging) because purging is far more dangerous than you know.) Purging gives off the same endorphins that sex and exercise do - and it's addictive. Just as is the feeling of emptiness from starving.

By age 14, I was planning binges and purges up to 8 times a day. At 16, I dropped down to 104 pounds and was forced to gain weight. I relapsed again at age 18. It starts with bulimic behavior and becomes anorexic behavior.

There is a psychological difference in the two.

Anorexic behavior is controlled - it's nearly non-human. It is what happens when control is needed over something, and you use your weight and looks as a marker of how much control you have. If you can't control anything, you can control what you consume, and by default, your mortality. Diving deep into Anorexic behavior is like standing on the edge of a building waiting to fall but knowing at any moment you can step back, turn around, and laugh at the people who were afraid of you falling.

Bulimic behavior is chaotic. My life has always been a struggled between my environment and myself, between what was out of my control and the few things I could control. I could plan binges and then experience the high of the post-vomit, but before I learned that, what I felt was my environment. I would try to control, try to starve, starve with passion even. And then I would break, and I would binge - I couldn't even remember what I had eaten. Sleep-eating would happen. And then the terror and guilt would set in and I would puke.

Food. Chaos.

ED's are about control. Not about weight. Weight is just the marker we're using to see how much control we're pretending to have, or if you're an old timer like me, you're just relapsing into addiction and you're not sure why.

Anorexia-power-and-control
Art by J. Endsley

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