I expect this is one of the myriad of reasons that when, as an adult I found myself gripped by feelings of shame, worthlessness and intense anxiety, I was lured into anorexic behaviours, survival instincts turned in on themselves; at times exercising and controlling calories felt as vital as breathing.
I had become ‘atypically anorexic'. This was my diagnosis.
The diagnosis was a long time coming. A disordered way of thinking had crept up on me over many years and had reached the point where the world felt unliveable.
My first meeting with an eating disorder specialist ended with her telling me I was 'anorexic'. How could I be? I ate. I ate lots.
I later read the referral letter sent to my GP. The diagnosis was 'atypical anorexia'. Cue more confusion. What did 'atypical' mean? That I wasn't actually anorexic? I wasn't thin enough?
Either way I couldn't carry on life as it was and proceeded with treatment. I saw a psychologist who I felt understood me and it transformed my life. I never identified as 'recovered', I never stopped using exercise to feel okay. I did however emerge from the intense anguish that had held me captive. I returned to a healthy weight and became well enough to fall pregnant.