There is a correlation, I think, between urbanisation and the rise in eating disorders.
It came up, in a presentation, and there’s probably some research; but, I seem to have created my own personal proof.
I remembered, today, as I walked down Kentish Town Road (to see how far I could go before the panic kicked in), what happened when 24 hour living – and my eating disorder – met. I was thrown back, 10 years, with a surge of pain that almost over-powered me, as the landmarks that I had been avoiding, re-appeared, again.
I went to university in London. I must have attended some lectures (although I remember few of them) and I must have been a bit social (as I have, miraculously, a few long-standing friends); but I also spent much of this time in a starvation induced haze, where food was the only objective and I didn’t, at the time, realise the personal price I paid…
And so, I would find myself walking into Camden, at 2 in the morning, with a pair of jeans over my pyjamas, just to visit the kebab shop that was open ’til 4 –
Or sitting behind a paper in a greasy cafe, whilst the rest of the halls were asleep, so that I could return – and throw up – before the first morning knock at my door.
Take aways where I was anonymous. Corner shops – and 24 hour supermarkets – and fast food that almost kept up with my desperation. Mazes of streets to hide in. Chippies – and cut-price fried chicken – and pizza slices – and the extra they always threw in, because they said that I didn’t look well –
This would not have happened if I had lived in the middle of the country.
The eating disorder was already well established by my arrival – but the extremity with which I could respond to the first craving had previously been contained; and it would have been a bit harder – if I’d stayed somewhere quieter – to put my head down in the crowds. And hide.
I have been ashamed, for years, of what happened in London. I transformed a city that I loved into a prison and lost my self esteem, in a side street, along the way. I have not talked, much, about how I ended up becoming so ill there. The shame – and guilt – and self-disgust, has been very hard to wash away.
But I wonder, now that I’m a little more open with the experience, whether there are other people treading the streets in a desperate search for food, or struggling with the challenge of 24 hour temptation–