A dual burden: Anorexia and OCD

March 29th 2017

Guest Post written by Rosie

Trigger warning: Detailed accounts of anorexia are mentioned in this post, which some may find triggering.

It is often assumed that suffering with two mental illnesses makes thing a lot worse, but in a sense that your two illnesses are constantly fighting – this is true in a lot of cases, anxiety and depression for example, but my OCD and anorexia go hand in hand. It’s almost as if they have slowly morphed into each other to a point where I’m unable to distinguish which voice is which. I am constantly teamed up on by my own thoughts, Anorexia and OCD vs me. I’ll give you a clue, I don’t often win.

I’m in the process of re-feeding, which is when every single meal is watched, and I’m usually not allowed to leave the table until my entire plate of food is practically spotless. My worst fear is usually a reality, when I try and hide food, in my pockets or under a chair, and it is found, placed back on my plate and I stare at it, like it’s a sort of poison, and the thought of eating it disgusts me. I usually just say, ‘I can’t eat that’, and the response is a constant ‘You have to, it will help you get healthier’.

I want to throw the plate across the table and watch as it shatters into a thousand fragmented pieces, like the years of work it took to lose weight, to start getting skinnier, destroyed within weeks of being admitted here. I can hear my head scream, my anorexia yelling at me not to be so weak, that if I eat it, I’m going to gain 50lbs and then there’s my OCD, backing up everything already said, reminding me of how unclean the chair was where I just hid that food.

Within seconds, I’ve stacked the negatives and positives, and as always, the negatives of eating out weight the insignificant positives. I know that unless I run for it, or I suddenly pass out, the likelihood of me leaving without finishing this lunch is practically non-existent. I pick apart my food, my OCD yelling at me to get up and use the hand soap I can see so clearly from the corner of my eye, even though I have no idea why I need to anti-bac my hands, I just know that OCD knows best. I feel like a captive in this chair, my head racing with possible excuses to leave, but I know that nothing I say will be new to them and they will just shake their head.

‘I know this is difficult, but you need to finish’.

I feel angry words climbing at my throat, wanting to yell at how I don’t need to gain weight, and I was fine before I was here. All these thoughts running through my brain, still none of them really my own, but you wouldn’t know, as I sit, the emptiness of a broken soul hanging around me.

I pull apart a sandwich with my chapped fingers, the constant soap and water leaving resented scars. It’s the bread. I hate bread. Not really, if my head wasn’t so consumed with anorexic and anxious thoughts I’d probably be aware of the tingling of my taste buds at the thought of it, but I’ve been able to ignore that for two years. Bread is going to make you fat, bread is stodgy, you can’t digest bread, and it just transfers into fat, and my head bats these thoughts to the forefront of my brain, where they are inescapable.

I can feel time escaping me, and I want to chase after it, knowing I have less than half my allocated time to finish this meal. I can taste the sourness of disgust, as I pick it up, and I inhale, like somebody about to plummet through air, and for a fraction of a second I’m able to ignore the thoughts, as I rip the bread into shreds between my teeth, and in an instance, it is done. All at once, I feel the rush of

the voices, screams consuming me, ‘You’re going to get fat, you’re going to get fat’, the OCD telling me I’m about to die from the germs I’ve inevitably just eaten.

Through the haze of my mental battle, I can see the dietician smiling, and somewhere inside of me, a piece of the intricate structure of my illnesses breaks off, falling away, and I know that I am one step closer, even if it is seemingly insignificant, it is a huge leap that I’ve just taken.

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