In Praise of Disordered Eating

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I saw an actual psychiatrist last week for the first time in over a decade. May two years ago, I showed up in my nurse practitioner’s office unable to stop crying. I believed I could continue to cry forever on my own but I was terrified of becoming a mother who couldn’t get out of bed.

“Honey, you don't have to live like this anymore,” my nurse said. And the difference these past two years has been profound. Last week I decided to visit a psychiatrist to make sure I was still on the right track. We talked about a lot of things— my addictions, my childhood, my marriage, my inner life, my eating habits. I told him how I’d lived back and forth between my parents. My mom was always on a different life-changing food plan. Her mother died slowly of diabetes, one toe, one foot, one leg, at a time. My mother would not let this happen to her— or me. Kale and carob and quinoa. Macrobiotic, food combining, raw, blood type.

Eating with my dad was a study in opposites. A celebration, an indulgence, a carnival, love. Cheeseburgers, french fries, milkshakes. TV dinners, donuts, pie, pizza, cake. I yo-yo’ed between the two of them every other week, a few days at a time, never settled into anything long from toddlerhood to teenagedom. “No one would have lived through that without some kind of disordered eating,” my psychiatrist said. He explained that disordered eating isn’t an eating disorder. It’s eating that does not have any order, that does not adhere to rhyme or reason.

So I am sitting with this for now, embracing it, allowing it to be. So many aspects of my life have seemed chaotic, without rhyme, without reason, without order. But it’s been from those exact states of whirling madness that the rest of my life has been born. Slowly, beautifully, organic, whole. For now, I’m choosing to let it all be. To let the chaos unfold.