I just finished reading a magnificent book called The Ministry of Thin. It was such a great read at this point in my life, where I’m not totally wallowing in my own misery (I am still wallowing a bit, let me be the first to admit this). While reading this book, I was struck by how singular my experience is. Like, I don’t know…who am I to write about what is happening to me? Why is my story any more important or different from yours? I’m sure everyone feels small at some point in their life. After reading this book though, I realized that the author, Emma Woolf, did such a good job of writing about women and the seeming crises we are in, that she pretty much stole the words right out of my mouth (or my keyboard, I suppose). She also added some insight about science and why some humans are more prone to an eating disorder than others. If you want to get all of the details, you’ll have to read the book, but basically she talks about how if you look at scans done of a brain while a person is severely malnourished, and one of when they are eating enough, you can actually see the amount that your gray matter shrinks when you aren’t getting enough to eat.
She also talks about how lots of women diet, but don’t have a full-blown eating disorder (or not one that is qualified as one in the DSM). Lots of people have what is obviously disordered eating, but it’s not to the same extent as that of someone with a diagnosed eating disorder. Ooooh, I feel special now. I took my eating restrictions and quirks far enough that I actually qualify to have a name slapped on my oddities! I have a disease! Yay me. But anyway, she makes a really good point (one that I have often wondered about) when she poses the question along the lines of “why do some women’s “diets” turn into eating disorders and others don’t?”. Good question, right? What pushes a person over that fine line? What makes careful nutrition turn into obsessing over every calorie, counting out pieces of cereal, weighing fruits and vegetables? When does a healthy habit turn unhealthy? I don’t know, so don’t look at me. But according to Emma, there is some scientific backing to make doctors believe there is a possibility that some people have wiring issues with their brains. Just like some people have depression, anxiety, cancer, alzheimers or schizophrenia in their genes, some might have a tendency to become restrictive with their eating. Huh.
So now for the moment of truth. Why did I become anorexic? Do I know? Well, yes and no. I think I now why, how, and when, but it’s not something that I can pinpoint as one thought, moment, action. It’s something that happened over time, and so slowly that those nearest to me didn’t even realize it. I didn’t even realize it. Sound too crazy to be true? Well, maybe. But it’s my story, and I will tell it. In time.