I am a 34 y.o. male who has had a serious eating disorder for 22 years. I am writing to you because I know you have also suffered from this disease. I am in the process of writing not only about my experiences as a male eating disorder sufferer, but also coming out as gay man. I thought writing this book would be liberating and freeing, but it has turned out to be the opposite. It has severely depressed me and made my eating disorder much worse. As a matter of fact, i just finished a huge binge of ice cream and threw it all up. I honestly don’t think I can continue in this way. Either the eating disorder will kill me as it has many of the people who I have known in treatment, or I will due to the overwhelming feeling this book has evoked. Can you help in anyway?
Oh I so know what you are going through…something about the process of looking back and examining your life can bring up terrible feelings, ones we would rather forget. My favorite way to forget is to dive into something sweet and chocolatey, but that isn’t the best solution. It actually makes things much worse because then I get angry at myself, because I am ‘fat enough as it is’ and ‘eating more doesn’t solve anything.’ It is horrible how we talk to ourselves. If we spoke like that to anyone we loved, we’d expect them to walk right out the door, yet for some reason, we find it completely acceptable when it is self inflicted.
You are right about feelings being overwhelming. Are there any other kind? I suppose I should be grateful, because I experience things so deeply, but it puts me in a state of perpetual agony. I think that eating disorders are very common, much more than anyone realizes. Millions upon millions of people have them. Some of them die, but most live with the disease, and are constantly in varying degrees of pain, and you have to think, “Is that life? I might as well succumb if I have to go on like this….”
I am a little better than I was, but I am certainly not cured. I have done it all, binged and purged, been anorexic and bulimic, been hospitalized and analyzed and sponsored and callipered and trained and hypnotized and acupunctured and juiced and detoxed and retoxed and all of it, but it hasn’t brought me the perfect body or perfect peace with who I am. I am trying to just settle into a kind of contentment with my physical self. I am just deciding to be perfect…and that oddly enough, works pretty well. That perfection is something that must be protected carefully. It is fragile! I can’t ever go into dressing rooms with anything that doesn’t stretch. I never put anything on that looks like it might be too small. I give everything that doesn’t fit to someone who can wear it, no matter how expensive or nice it is. I look at myself in the mirror and I don’t say anything, if the thing I say is likely to be mean. I don’t let comments about my weight or my looks ‘stick’ to me, you know, like when someone says something stupid, and then you cannot stop hearing it in your head, echoing over and over until you want to just end it all just so you don’t have to hear it anymore? And I just go on like that… and it is a good life, if I watch myself. Kind of like when I used to diet, but now instead of limiting calories, I will not allow negative self talk. I cut out insults like I cut out carbs and it is hard as hell because I crave self abuse like hot, fresh sourdough bread, but you know you have to be nice to you if you are going to live together.
Another thing that helps is my burlesque show “The Sensuous Woman.” There are all kinds of bodies on display in the show, so many beautiful women and men, and it is such a healing thing to see someone who may not be the typical ‘model’ type flaunting their gorgeous butts and legs and breasts and everything, because I am so used to hiding myself and hating myself, that when I see someone who doesn’t, and is enjoying their body, telling a story with their body, with a beginning, middle and end, not worrying about their body, simply sharing their body, it’s like I am getting this weird permission to love mine, and it is incredible, because it is this little reprieve from the hell of my own making, this entry into a world where I am the most beautiful creature alive. I take off my clothes in the show, and everyone is screaming, not out of horror like I feared they might, but because they love it, and I love it. Nobody wearing pasties can ever be ‘fat’ or ‘ugly.’ It is about celebrating your body, and that was utterly unthinkable to someone like me. Come to our show if you can. I honestly believe that we save lives, and we would love to save yours.