Back to basics

Thursday, 1 March 2012

I suppose to most people, I must seem like a stubborn toddler...yes, we have many things in common, the obvious being our lack of reason. It makes no sense really. Eating gives you energy. You need energy to live. Therefore, you need to eat to live. I remember mum going over and over that with me, trying to explain it. The thing is, I know that. I know I cannot survive without food, so why the hell can I not eat?! I was recently asked by a woman who was assigned to eat with me at university; 'Is it the smell of food you don't like?'. The question seemed ridiculous, but she was from a culture she explained where eating disorders were pretty much unheard of. She just couldn't understand it. I tried to explain that it's not that I don't like food. Hell, I LOVE food. I'm just terrified of it.
Imagine you are surrounded by all the food you love. Delicious chocolate cake with buttercream filling, bowls of linguine, penne, spaghetti, each with a different sauce, from tomato and mascarpone to carbonara. Freshly baked bread. Bagels. Macaroons. Milkshakes. Strawberries. Fresh Lemonade. Everything you adore. You can smell it all, the beautiful scents. If you breathe in deeply you can almost taste it all. But you can't. You can barely remember what all that food tastes like, because the last time you let yourself enjoy it was months, years ago. Your hunger is clawing at your stomach. You are empty, hollow. Around you everyone is enjoying all the luxuries that surround you. But all you have is your ravenous hunger. You reach forward and almost touch the freshly baked croissants. They would be warm, soft and buttery on the inside. Incredible with sweet strawberry jam.
"You are greedy, you don't need to eat, that would be weak, you don't need it, you don't deserve it, you are disgusting, repulsive...YOU ARE FAT".
Quickly you recoil. Move away from the food. Anything to stop it, to block out the hurt, those feelings. Instead, your hands reach up to your protruding collar bones, the row of ribs, your hollow cheeks. You stroke them for comfort, even though they feel hard and cold. You are safe, you are strong. Incredibly strong. You don't need this food. None of it.
So, you don't eat, although you are empty. Obsessed with food. You cannot stop thinking of it. Cooking it. Staring at cookery books. Good food magazine is an anorexics porn. Food is everything...but you can't have it.
I wonder what she would have said if that is what I replied...instead I smiled politely and muttered "i'm just scared". Not a lie at least.


  1. Immense! I don't think I understood at all what anorexics go through until reading such eloquent analogies... Big respect for documenting and hope it helps you and others find the ways to re-program this unhelpful but I guess natural human response to something so important as eating... Don't let it beat you, good luck! Leo

  2. Hang in there, Maya. People recover every day.


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