PostSecret: Happier When I’m Hungry

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

PostSecret: Happier When I’m HungryNo matter how smart I get, there is still a desperate little girl inside of me that wants to be skinny at any cost. When I saw this postcard from PostSecret, my first thought was, “God, I wish I could be like this.”

Honestly, I am happier when I am eating.

I have tried for years to change this aspect of myself, but even after years of behavior modification, I am the same. I know I say that you should never wish anorexia on yourself, but seeing this postcard makes me long for a different problem. Instead of the bingeing, how about the starving? Can I trade one for the other?

I do know one thing. For years, I tried to give myself anorexia. I starved myself for days. I subsisted on Slim Fast for weeks. No matter what I did, it always ended up in a binge. Even eating healthy for years can end up in a binge. I am constantly fighting or succumbing to the binge monster at all times.

I guess it’s time to give up the idea that I will magically be anorexic and get skinnier than I’ve ever been, but it’s also time to give up the idea that I will magically be free from wanting to binge. I need to accept myself the way I am and work on being healthy from that point of acceptance.

PostSecret‘s beneficiary is the National Hopeline Network. It is a 24-hour hotline (1 (800) SUICIDE) for anyone who is thinking about suicide or knows someone who is considering it.


8 Responses to “PostSecret: Happier When I’m Hungry”

  1. Russ Says:

    Laura My daughter suffered anorexia, bulemia AND binging problems (without the bulemia part) — please believe me when I say that anorexia is no answer (nor does it exclude the desire to binge) Luckily my daughter no longer suffers from anorexia, but as the underlying cause was never really resolved, she still struggles, just in different ways — some of them around food. Today she is much healthier than when she was down to 80 lbs, but she still suffers from the effects on her body. Her digestive system will never function normally, her teeth have severe problems, she still suffers with hair and skin problems — the ravages that one must live with the rest of their lives. Laura, I wish for you to heal, as I continually pray for my daughter to heal — trading one disorder for another is not the answer. Grass is greener?? don’t believe it — please, it sounds like you have made tremendous progress — congratulate yourself when you do eat healthy, forgive yourself when you give in to the urge to binge Take care Russ

  2. Sascha Says:

    I have struggled with both anorexia and bulimia for more than a decade, and have been in group therapy on occasion with compulsive overeaters. Often, the compulsive overeaters would complain in therapy sessions that if they had to have an eating disorder, they’d at least like one that made them thin. But all of us were miserable people. Why wish for any eating disorder at all?

    I am honestly at my happiest when I can eat a piece of chocolate cake without calculating in my head how many calories it has, or without feeling guilty afterward. It is still a struggle for me, even though my doctors would term me a “success story,” and I suspect that it will be a struggle for the rest of my life. But that’s still what I’m shooting for: Enjoying food that tastes good and is good for me, not worrying about how many calories it has or how long I’ll have to spend on the treadmill to burn it off.

    All eating disorders force you to obsess over food. When I was anorexic, I still fantasized about food constantly, even dreamt about it every night. The fantasies about bingeing absolutely tormented me.

    As someone who has suffered from anorexia — and like Russ’s daughter, suffers the ill effects of it even after years of “recovery” — I find wishing for anorexia to be tremendously disturbing and even offensive, especially coming from someone who is presenting themselves as an advocate of healthy diet and exercise. (In fact, I have been reading your blog specifically because I am trying to get fit in a healthy way, and I need to learn how to do it from others, since my own internal mechanisms are so obviously faulty.) If you are truly wishing that you could be anorexic, and if you find yourself truly burdened by a need to binge, you may find therapy tremendously helpful. I have learned that there is a very thin line between dieting and having an eating disorder, and it sounds like you may be having a difficult time. I hope the best for you, and please consider the help of a qualified therapist, who I honestly believe can make all the difference in matters like these. It’s true that you will never be magically free from wanting to binge. In my case, I wasn’t free until I had done some serious work in therapy, fixing the things that made my brain urge me to binge in the first place.

  3. B. Says:

    Wow, Laura, I’m so glad for your honesty. Russ and Sascha,I’m very moved by your poignant stories and the caring you show towards Laura.

    Sigh… Yeah, there isn’t a prevalence of eating disorders in our society for nothing. We are living in the context of our society, where women still aren’t equal, and we are told/sold by the market place the idea that if we are thin, we will be loved. (Maybe if we are just thin enough, we will be fully included!)

    For us primates, being loved equals surviving, so, we will do whatever it takes to fit in to “how we are supposed to be.” This is good survival skills when how we are supposed to be is following the wisdom of our culture. Too bad some of our culture isn’t too wise.

    In fact, the message that we have to be thinnER (it’s never really just “thin”) means that we go against our physical make up. That survival instinct says we are supposed to eat healthy amounts of food and it is completely against our healthy instincts to starve ourselves.

    So, the message of our society and the instincts we have to survive by belonging go completely against our instincts to survive by eating abundantly. No wonder we feel like we are fighting against our selves. We are. Sheesh. And like all in-fighting, we are missing the real enemy of our well being.

    Well, don’t believe those advertisements, you are loved as is, my dear friend.

    (I know, easier said than done. When I am lonely, I still sometimes catch myself thinking that I need to get thinner and THEN I’ll be able to find love. Oh yeah, or I could just skip that unnecessary step and call one of the many people who love me.)

    So, I hope we can all forgive ourselves for our eating issues, it is the effect of the time and place we live. And, I wish all a big FU to the unhealthy messages and LOTS and LOTS of abundance and healing.

  4. B. Says:

    PS: According to the book Flow, which reports about extensive studies on people’s inner states when doing various activities, almost all people report feeling happiest when they are eating. I think this is VERY healthy and very normal, and very good. Three times a day or more, we get to do something that makes us very happy.

    It is only relatively recently that food has been turned from a great pleasure into a great sin.

  5. lovelines Says:

    I used to wish I could be anorexic as well, but you know, just long enough so I could become thin. But then I realized that I don’t actually want to be thin. I want to be healthy, strong, and fit. That’s not the same thing as skinny!

  6. Russ Says:

    Great sharing people, but I really feel the need to discuss something here. I have heard the common “Society pushes us to be thin” as part of trying to explain Anorexia — All I know is that in my daughter’s case it had more to do with Control issues (power) an Addictive personality (there are relatives with alcohol problems — so there seems to be a genetic predisposition toward addictions, and she tends to easily become obsessed with a variety of things– so is has shown herself vulnerable to addictions) and from her speaking — Anorexia was an addiction. High intelligence Strong willpower Altho there are strong messages re: being thin — it is like fire — you need the right combination of elements to keep the fire burning — the “thin message” is only one of the elements. Some other emotional issues where it became that anorexia was her comfort place to go to — the “known” entity — her “friend”. that took work (and still does) to break and have her see alternatives to her “friend”.

  7. Sascha Says:

    Russ — you’re absolutely right, of course, and I often try to explain my history of eating disorders to others in terms of an addiction.

    I think it’s a very short jump from anorexia to compulsive overeating disorder, for the same reason — the addiction is to the act of bingeing, not the starvation. While eating disorders are treated differently from a medical standpoint, the psychological treatment is much the same. (People with anorexia and bulimia are often encouraged to attend meetings of Overeaters Anonymous, for instance.) Also, people with one eating disorder often cycle through to the others — I have bounced back and forth between anorexia and bulimia several times, myself.

    I guess the message I am trying to communicate is that feeling overwhelmed by the need to binge is not really a far cry from anorexia at all, in terms of one’s mental health. Actively pining for anorexia is an added red flag. Anyone who feels burdened by an obsession with food in any form (bingeing and/or starving), and all the attendant guilt, could benefit tremendously from the help of a therapist who specializes in eating disorders, even if they do not meet the clinical criteria for an eating disorder.

    It is true that not all who diet have an eating disorder, or that all eating disorders are borne of a quest to achieve a media-approved image (mine wasn’t). But for those of us who already have the psychological underpinnings for depression, or addiction, or obsession, a diet can end up being the outlet for a lot of those feelings. This post worries me because I see much of myself in it.

  8. Alexa Says:

    I wanted to add something in addition to Russ’s comment.

    I’m 19 and about a year ago I suffered from anorexia. I refused to see a problem and was actually completely dumbfounded when my friends and family confronted me. I had to begin meeting with a therapist at an ED clinic. The first thing she said to me brought me to tears. It was entirely true and really hit home.

    She said, “An eating disorder can be your best friend and your worst enemy.”

    It took months of counseling for me to realize that 113 pounds and starving was unreasonable for a 5’7″ female. I think what stemmed my bought with anorexia was due to wanting to be noticed as a strong, thin, beautiful individual and wanting to deal with my problems in a very secretive way. Anorexia was my outlet for so many of my depressing thoughts and feelings.

    I’ve been recovering without any long term effects for about a year now. Everyday I wish I could be anorexic again. I wish I had the strength to stop eating again. But at the same time, I love eating! I’ve learned to like my body and like food again. To me, the most noticable difference is that I am a much happier person.

    I strongly urge anyone with ED type tendencies to see a therapist. Although it seems hard at first, it is honestly worth it. Who knows, maybe a single sentence can be the thing that changes your life too.

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