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The Eating Game

Letters From Eat Shit

Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

Dear Anna,

When you’re lying on a doctor's examining table after waiting three hours in Accident and Emergency, his gloved finger up your asshole, feeling around for any "obstructions" because you’ve gone there in a panic—"I haven’t shit for three days," you know you have a problem.

When he looks at you with a strange look on his face, sort of pity I guess, after you explain what you’ve eaten and says, "I don’t think you’ve eaten enough to shit properly."

You definitely know you have a problem.

----

The thing I realized about having an eating disorder is that it’s a game. When you’re skinny and no one can pinpoint why, you’re winning. For so long it didn’t matter how many wake up calls smacked me in the face, I still kept pretending I was fine. I just had a fast metabolism. I was vegetarian and that kept the weight off, but I did eat LOADS of vegetables. It’s nervous energy, burning it all up. I just had "that kind" of bone structure. The lists went on. I knew I shouldn’t do it, but I did. I had to keep winning the game.

I pretended I was fine because I couldn’t handle being made to put on weight. I spent a lot of energy convincing people that I was OK; covering my tracks was part of my illness. Why? Yes, to keep winning but really? Because, actually, I couldn’t bear to look at my life without the eating disorder. It defined me, it made me feel safe, it was my secret, it took up so much of my time, it gave me meaning and purpose and value, it helped me keep in control, it helped me cope. It was everything, whether I knew it or not. I was up to my neck in the eating game, and the sick thing was, I wasn’t really kidding anyone.

Almost every day I meet beautiful, talented, powerful, wonderful women who aren’t kidding anyone either. Sometimes they know they're playing the eating game, but the majority? They don’t. We live in a society so good at preying on our sense of self-worth that these women don’t always know what they are feeding into. Eating disorders don’t just belong to the extremely stick thin creatures or pinched in celebrities. They’re not reserved for under a certain BMI or dress size or number on the scales, these things are aesthetic. This is much much bigger than all of that.

Eating disorders are that feeling of not being enough.

In my experience so far of living on this planet as a woman and a recovered anorexic/bulimic, it is my opinion that being encouraged to feel "not enough" is something so deeply woven into the fabric of our society that it’s hard to see the wood from the trees. It’s almost in a woman's DNA, that mothering instinct to feed the others, to selflessly give and nurture. Almost, I say almost, because ultimately it’s our misunderstanding of self-love that keeps that story spinning. We’ve branded the word "selfish" as wrong. I’m here to tell you that it’s not. I’m here to tell you that you are enough. I’m here to share my journey with you and unpick societies fabric. I’m here to tell you all about the eating game.

And in my opinion, it can go eat shit.

Stay tuned.

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