Let’s start with the question that everyone asks: “what was the cause?”. It’s worth a million dollars and I don’t have an answer.
There’s lots of possible scenarios; lots of incredibly plausible reasons; lots of speculation: I’ve heard it all.
Fear of getting fat (yep – but came later); celebrity copycatting (I was reading the Funday Times and seriously uncool); fear of getting older (maybe – but very deep seated); sexual abuse (no); attention seeking (possibly); bullying (another definite no); parent punishing (possibly – but I was a child, they do that); low self esteem (nothing that different there then)….
It could have been anything.
It’s a huge problem with eating disorders – or mine at least: working out the cause is nearly impossible so it’s hard to really understand what you’re working with; hard to fix something when you don’t know what part’s broken.
I’ve agonised over the predicament for years. Agatha Christie would have been impressed: me and my army of therapists have explored every possible avenue.
And we’ve quite possibly been chasing an illusion.
My eating disorder wasn’t caused by anything external – it was influenced by my perception and my feelings and all those intangible things that you can’t pin down. It was started by a strange and lethal combination of my head, my experiences, what was going on in the wider world – and a whole host of seemingly insignificant actions and comments and reactions.
Things that wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else. Things that I probably took the wrong way. Things that I just didn’t quite get.
So, all this stuff is going on in my mind, and, for some reason, food suddenly came into the equation. Not dieting or weight or calories. Just food.
It started with a brace (out went chewy things); then vegetarianism (out went meat); then, perversely, Lent (out went sugar). By Easter, I’d caught the bug: I didn’t want any of it back.
I also had absolutely no idea what was happening to me.