As much as people who find a diet they can get away with like to evangelise, no one diet works the same way for everyone - except mine. If you don't eat, you die. As tested by millions of people unlucky enough not to be born in the Western world; this is the diet I'm currently trying out. I'm also keen to clarify here that I'm in no way trying to trivialise starvation, more to let you know that I know how ridiculous eating disorders may look from the outside - I get it. In many ways BPD and EDs are so similar they can't be prised apart. The black and white thinking - it's all or nothing - can make me either resist food altogether and get a tremendous sense of achievement, or eat all the food there is. That's why I don't keep junk food in the house anymore. Because I ate it all - as soon as I bought it.
There are those swimming about out there in the virtual dieting and 'lifestyle' world (certain bent-yellow-fruit-related ones and no, that's not a euphemism) who will swear that their way of eating is the only way. I would actually pray to a god I don't believe in for those people to only exist in the virtual world, but annoyingly they are real physical beings - although I suppose even if they were just virtual, isn't that where we all live our lives these days? As anyone with even a few synapses can deduce, they need to convince others not because they actually care about them, but because they need to keep convincing themselves. In the same way I continuously justify my endless food restrictions as 'healthy'. But no one can live healthily on just one type of food, unless they've been genetically coded to do so. We can live, sure, but then as my psychiatrist helpfully said: "The children starving in Africa are still alive". Well yes. Until they're not.
My guess would be that in order to stay on the straight and narrow, people have to convince themselves beyond any doubt that what they're eating is right. Part of this is also attacking others who dare question the validity of their claims, and the more they need to cling to their diet life raft, the more viscious they are in attack mode. It's almost a sport just watching it all unfolding on YouTube, and reminding myself that had such a thing existed when I was 17 and joined a cult, I would've been doing the same thing myself. After all, there are some similarities between a deity and a banana when you think about it. I might even do it now, if only I could be bothered to spend all my free time making self-righteous videos to feed my ego (editor's note: not my body, ). You'd be surprised at the level of preparation that goes into making a meal of under 50 calories. There are a few people I've seen who personify the nature of eating disorders than those - right down to the dirty fingernails from all that digging.
Here's where things get complicated for the world of medicine - my psychiatrist thought I was a straightforward borderline personality disorder case. He had me all mapped out, so he thought. My eating habits were borne out of a desire to hurt myself, he said. I went along with this for a while, until it became pretty obvious that quitting my other target behaviours (the ones I genuinely wanted rid of) only led to the door being flung open for my 'ole buddy Ana to take hold:
"Well, great going with all that DBT stuff lady - but now we've got that out of the way, time to really get somewhere!", she said, with a twinkle in her beady eye and a barbed spike in her manky little tail. Let's just say others' perceptions of me lacked the added dimension required to grasp how ridiculous it all really is.
EDs are not taken very seriously in the over 20s - and there's precious little in the way of treatment, especially on the NHS. In essence, it's completely up to me to decide where I want to end up. My doctor expressed it so beautifully when he said: "You're choosing anorexia".
Disordered eating is more than likely to be for keeps for me, and I know that now. It doesn't matter how kamikaze it gets, because it's always there to hold on to. All I have to do is stay just above the 'critical' BMI, and I can do whatever I like. No doubt it'll hide behind other guises, she's a wizened old bitch is Ana. Us older ED's don't get the same fuss made over us - we know how to maintain it without raising suspicions, and boy if having an ED does anything it makes people watch you almost constantly. Analysing every pound. Part of the maintenance revolves around the perceptions of others, because people think that other people's weight is their business. Especially if you're low weight. In the same way we're all guilty of looking at an overweight friend and thinking "But I never see him eat?!", you might look at me and think "But I saw her eat at lunch!"