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Food is a massive issue for me, as it is with a lot of Borderlines. Over half of Borderlines meet the criteria for an eating disorder, and even those that don't may still have a tumultuous relationship with food.
So, why is this?
For me, food is both the most destructive thing on earth and the most comforting. I have had a difficult relationship with it since my early adolescence, and have continued so into my adult life. I was diagnosed with bulimia nervosa at the tender age of 14, and have relapsed time and time again ever since.
Borderlines feel that we have very little control over what happens to us, or how we feel, and controlling how much or how little we eat is one thing that we can have control over.
We see it in the movies all the time, someone gets hit with depression and they either can't eat for days or they sit and consume a whole tub of ice cream. Unfortunately this is quite often the case in reality too. Not only can mood swings cause changes in appetite, but then either overeating or eating nothing at all can also become a method of coping with said moods. This can continue in a long, downward spiral and becomes an obsession.
For me, impulsivity usually causes binge eating rather than starving myself, as it crops up in a way that urges me to eat anything and everything I come across. Again this can be a coping mechanism, but can also just simply be an impulse in the moment. It’s not only eating that is impulsive, but also shopping. I may spontaneously decide to go out and buy lots of junk food, and then even if I have no impulses it, I feel the need to eat things before they go off as I don’t want to waste money or food.
Unstable self image is a common occurrence with those suffering with BPD and is a major factor in the development of eating problems. Many borderlines may feel that they are overweight, and so controlling food intake will therefore make them slimmer and more desirable. On the other hand, or sometimes within the same person, someone may feel that they are very confident within themselves and that they have no need to watch what they eat, therefore increasing the impulsivity to overeat. Eating disorders can also become part of someone's identity, and the idea of losing the eating disorder means also losing a part of themselves, something that may scare many borderlines.
Most borderlines have very intense interpersonal relationships and so it is possible that the desire to have control over their relationship with food is a method of having that control that they don't have with people. The fear of abandonment is also highly prevalent, whereas we know that food will never leave us, and so it can be a great source of comfort. This may sound absurd, but sometimes a good hearty meal can give the same amount of pleasure as human interaction.
Overall, my relationship is equally positive and negative with food. Sometimes I have great control over what I eat, eating healthily and normally. Other times I eat enough for a small family, and sometimes I refuse to eat at all. I'm not entirely sure that I will have a fully functioning relationship with food, however, I am trying my hardest to fix that. Over the last 18 months I have gone from a "healthy" weight to clinically obese, but I am trying to become healthy and fit, and hope that my relationship with all the edible goodness in the world becomes better too.
If you have any concerns about your eating habits, or feel that you fit the criteria for an eating disorder, please visit your GP or local health professional for advice. Please don’t suffer in silence, and know you are not alone.