Eating Disorder Series Part 2: Cycles of Despair

Trigger Warning: I have kept specific numbers, weights and behaviours to a minimum in these posts. However, some people may still find the following posts triggering. Comments are open, so I would ask readers to please use the same judgement when leaving comments and please omit information which may be triggering to others. Thank you.


My first diet book had failed me and I was beyond disappointed. I’d pinned everything on it. It was supposed to fix me and all that was wrong with me. Even through my naivety, I knew it was the book at fault and not me—I’d followed every rule to the letter.

I remembered the exhilaration when I’d first picked it out; how alluring it had been as I ran my hands over its striking cover and how its words had filled me with excitement, expectation and ease.

I was 4 months in when I realised all that glittered was not gold. This book represented fools-gold at best and the false sparkle had abandoned both it and me. The irony of having fallen prey to judging a book by it’s cover was not lost on me.

My blood sugars were no better—in fact, they were more unpredictable than ever. And the dimples on my thighs were still distinguishable, despite the twice daily body brushing the book insisted on.

It had promised a wholesome and delicious menu but the reality was a bland, repetitive and expensive array of faux foods which left me hungry, short-tempered and confused.

The diet was a clear failure but what I hadn't seen was the Trojan Horse it concealed. It was my addiction to the ‘new diet’ process which slipped in unnoticed like a toxic virus.

As I look back, clearheaded now, I see that virus as a paint-sodden brush, plunging into a glass of colourless and unsuspecting water; it’s dark swirls permeating every inch, until a black, watery cloud is all that remains.

That all consuming cloud was the poison that filled my mind for 18 years.

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I made a conscious decision that day. I was terminating my relationship with Diet Book Number 1.

I dashed to the supermarket and filled my trolley with formerly forbidden foods, leaving the shop exhilarated once more.

I had to get rid of all the diet foods immediately to mark the finality of my decision. There was no kind way to do it. Shame stopped me from giving them to anyone I knew because I would have to admit I’d failed. The food banks only accepted a specific list of canned foods—another dead-end. There was only one way left. I fetched a bin bag and started the purge.

Bin Bag. Foods go in. Foods go out.

A blissful week of normality started as the virus lay dormant. But then it started to whisper. With each moment, it got louder and louder until it was an inescapable, shrieking pandemic.

Under it’s spell, I returned to the bookstore to find a new diet. And it didn’t take long.

I returned home with my new book, practically bursting with anticipation. I could digest a diet book in record time, memorise it’s rules and have everything in place for a ‘go live’ within hours. Were it not so harmful, it would have been impressive. This was misplaced excellence at its finest; fanaticism at its best. I was fast becoming a zealot.

And so my cycle of despair began:

  • Bin Bag. Foods go in. Foods go out. Clean again. Start new diet.

  • Failure.

  • Bin Bag. Foods go in. Foods go out. Back to normality.

  • Repent.

  • Find a new diet.

  • Begin again.

Around and around for 8 years. I spiralled as the virus escalated. It released its billowing, dark clouds of poisonous information and I soaked it up like a dry sponge.

The dietary extremes I was going to now were daunting, dangerous and more disturbing than ever. But they were also, for the most part, invisible. I learned two ways to deal with people: first, hide what I was doing or, if they started to show signs of concern employ tactic number two—convince them what I was doing was in fact healthy. I became an expert at both.

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Then, in 2008, I received a phone-call. A phone-call which was about to change everything.