Meltdown

I don’t know how many of you struggle with disordered eating, but let me tell you – it is my very least favorite thing that I/we’ve ever had to face. It is a demon unlike any other and it has a way of permeating every moment of your life in a way that feels very similar to drowning.

For the system, our eating issues are mainly present in a teenaged part, River. She developed an eating disorder when she was the main fronting part back in the mid-late 90’s. In fact, our very first hospitalizations were centered around eating disorder recovery. It was seemingly the worst between the ages of 13 and 16. But being hospitalized and essentially forced to eat pushed River back inside and left room for another part to figure out how to get through this crazy life. This is around the time Julia took over as the full-time fronting part and our coping skills switched from starvation to self-mutilation. Not ideal, but somehow less deadly.

The severe distortions and behavior patterns around eating remained mostly dormant for a long time. I now know there were issues of purging in college, but I’m still not clear on what exactly was going on. And I’m fairly certain there has always been an underlying theme of “food is bad”, but it presented itself in less serious manifestations.

That is until five months ago.

I’m almost 100% sure that the exact moment River reappeared as a fronting part was the day my wife lost her job. I think that experience was intensely triggering to a system that has spent a good amount of time homeless and without proper access to food. Since River has started fronting again, I’ve also realized how truly fucking nuts my parents were around food. I now have memories of myself as a kid foraging for food and only finding packets of pudding to eat. In the powder form. Or the powder mix for corn muffins. Or dry pasta. Or plain mustard. It’s awful and devastating.

Then, a week later, when we were preparing for admission to a residential trauma treatment program, Zooey had to fill out this form to fax in. Although we hadn’t experienced truly disordered eating in a while, Zooey said she was going to check off “eating disorder” because of the unresolved nature of River’s issues around food. Then she asked me what I weigh (required on the form). I told her and it didn’t really bother me. But it bothered River a whole lot and I think that was the final trigger for her. Since that day, she’s been almost 100% controlling our food and liquid intake.

Not fun. And nowhere near enough intake.

Fast forward to last week. I get out of session and my wife meets me on the street outside the therapist’s office. I ask if she wants to get dinner. River had decided that if we had to eat out, she would choose a Thai place she spotted across the street from the new office. Wife says no, she already ate. Fine. River decides on eating at home instead. But we decide to stop at a café to get something warm to drink. I had to pee so I went upstairs to use the restroom. I say to my wife, “I don’t want to eat here” – a direct message from River.

Except, my wife didn’t hear me. She didn’t buy me anything to eat, but she bought herself a wrap and a chocolate chip cookie. River is intensely sensitive to what, how, and where people around her are eating. So I get out of the bathroom and I see my wife settling into a table with food and everything just starts to get fuzzy. Anna (a child part) felt really, really hungry (probably because we never eat enough and being hungry is a trigger for her), so she asked if Wife would split her food with us. Wife was fine with that, so Anna grabbed half of the wrap and took a bite.

Then…whoa.

I can’t explain it, but it’s like the entire world just exploded inside our brain. When parts come out, but don’t take control of consciousness, it’s like being shoved to the backseat of the car. I can see and hear and sometimes feel what my body is doing, but I have no control over it.

So here I am, watching helplessly as River starts yelling at Wife (we NEVER yell at each other….EVER). I felt River’s emotions…she was absolutely terrified and hysterical and just so ANGRY.

Then she just started crying and I could feel how utterly out of control the entire universe felt to her in that moment. Anything at all that messes with her very precise schedule and routine around food tends to have that effect. She wasn’t just upset that Anna ate the food, I think she genuinely felt like something remarkably awful was going to happen to us because of that small deviation from her eating plan.

It was awful.

Luckily Wife is the greatest human ever and as soon as she recognized River’s distress, she apologized for not hearing her request to not get food and soothed her fears around having eaten the food. But we continued to cry on and off for the next couple of hours and River was still in distress when it was bedtime.

I have so much compassion and love for this little girl. I get very frustrated when I lose control of time around meals and it’s annoying to have to eat according to the rules set by a 13 year old. But I get that this is her way of keeping us safe. I don’t completely understand it, but I know enough to see that she’s trying to help the system the only way she knows how.

I just hope I can figure out how to get her help before we quite literally starve to death.

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15 thoughts on “Meltdown

    • Andi says:

      Thanks, Kat, me too. River says she won’t see a specialist until she’s “not fat”…but to her, that’s basically emaciated, so not sure how to deal with this. Taking it one day at a time for now.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Boost Connection says:

    That sounds very hard on all of you. No one here or IRL would let you starve to death. I completely empathize with both River’s need to control the body and food, and everyone else’s hangriness. It’s hard to feel out of control and I get the semi-destructive coping and attempts at anxiety-soothing that’s happening. Wanting to be invisible and in the driver’s seat are very understandable feelings after everything you all have gone through. I hope one day you all can achieve more healthy ways to express that. ::Sending supportive, healing vibes::

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anxious Mom says:

    Jesus Christ, pudding and corn muffin mix? Wtf. I’m so glad we lived next to my grandma during the first few years with my bio mom, she always made sure we were fed after she realized what was going on.

    Disordered eating sounds like hell, I hope it’s something your system will be able to work through during therapy eventually, if possible. I’m glad your wife is so supportive, rather reminds me of my husband ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      I hope we’re able to work through this, too. River also has rules around talking about the issue itself, especially IN therapy. And she felt out refused to call the ED treatment program Zooey referred us to because she says we’re “too fat to have an ED”…always interesting. And yes, so glad we BOTH have supportive spouses ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Bourbon says:

    I can relate so much. A teenage part with anorexia. Younger parts triggered by hunger because of past trauma……. It is a recipe for freak outs of some description. I hope eventually you can all work on compromise of some sort but I know its not easy. I’m glad your wife truly understands and can help in the thick of these difficulties x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Yes, it is definitely a recipe for freak outs! I’m sorry you struggle with similar issues but it’s also really neat to know someone else is living this, too. Very cool to know I’m not alone. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sara J says:

    *hugs* Oh my dear, I’m sorry, that sounds so awful for your entire system. All I can say is I’m here for all of you and I support you. (And I care about you too, River, I wish I could help).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Thank you, my love. It’s been pretty intense. There are good days and then days more like this. Just trying to find a balance, you know? (River says thank you). ❤

      Like

  5. multiplikaytion says:

    “Disordered eating”… that explains it exactly for my system too. My nickname was “Chunk” for my younger years even though I was not fat. I was made fun of by my family in home movies until I was crying. My step mother put so much emphasis on how and what we ate that we bought our own food once we got a job (15 yrs) and I watched my dad die of cancer, throwing up every time he moved for three months. All triggered very bad things, yet different eating problems within us. and we have people inside constantly in disagreement over what we eat. One angry rebellious teen steals and hoards anything, any crap she can get ahold of. One binges, one starves. One loves sweets and others only healthy veggies. It makes everyday living and coordinating so hard sometimes. Currently working on this in therapy… how to keep us from passing out from not having constant source of nutrients. We started tracking our intake with MyFitnessPal and agreed on a net amount of daily calories. Its hard. its good and sad to know there are others out there facing the same. :\

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience with disordered eating and DID. It’s really a remarkable task to try and coordinate all the various food preferences and then balance out various eating issues. It’s kinda exhausting ! We do track our food via an app on our iPhone and we have an agreed upon calorie goal for each day. That has helped a lot. And yes, I agree, it is always so nice to learn that we’re not alone in this stuff….

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Zoe says:

    My friend also has a part with similar issues (I had to chat with her to see if it was cool to make this comment) and before she was diagnosed with DID her first hospitalization was precisely because that part had starved himself, but she was the one to “wake up” at the hospital with no idea of why she was there or so physically ill. There is also a history of abuse from her biological parent’s side. You’re definitely not alone.

    Like

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