I live in a tiny wonderful bubble where it’s (1) pretty unusual not to have a mental illness (2) public knowledge that I have an eating disorder. It’s a bubble where I am left out of conversations about diets and nutrition, where my figure goes unremarked upon, and I’m not the only one.
Work is not in that bubble.
It’s the first job since I started treatment where I kept an eating disorder from everybody, and I’ve fiercely protected that independence. (Independence? That’s what it felt like, and what I promised myself it would be.)
It was teaching a class on nutrition. How to eat healthily.
I’ve never followed any of the advice I gave—I am, after all, a cautionary tale in eating—but I will be endlessly proud of my rules for the lecture.
I will not discuss ‘bad’ foods and ‘good’ foods.
I will not shame.
I will not discuss weight loss as the sole goal for food consumption.
It was walking into a conversation about anorexia and how strange it was that teen girls do that. The crawling duality of being expected to theorize dispassionately for curious strangers about what makes crazy people do that. I walked back out again. I had forgotten…something in the other room.
It was five-thousand discussions about weight loss I stepped out of. A handful of ones I didn’t (that was a bad decision).
It was exclamations of how ‘good’ I was each time I refused offers of baked treats. The stupid bubble of happy feelings that rose up each time I heard it.
I’ve just almost done it—I’m talking with clients about what it means as my term at the agency ends, saying goodbyes, counting time in weeks.
But it was also eating my lunch in peace each day. Nobody policed whether or not I was eating ‘enough’. I wasn’t making people worried each time I refused food. People accepted ‘no thank you, I’m not hungry’.
I declined an offer for a going-away party this week (it means cake, see?).
It wasn’t appropriate to share, and this I know. Little practical gain for me, lots of guilt and uncertainty and worry for them.
But I miss my bubble.