The theme for this year's Eating Disorders Awareness Week is 'Breaking Down the Barriers; Breaking Through the Stereotypes'.
As I fit into several minority groups I feel qualified to write about this. I'll attempt to address how some of those issues are reflected in my Eating Disorder.
I hope other Eating Disorder sufferers will be able to relate to some aspects of my story and I hope it gives a better understanding of DID and how it affects me in terms of my Eating Disorder.
I have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and some of my different identities impact upon my Eating Disorders.
"If you have Dissociative Identity Disorder you will experience severe changes in your identity. Different aspects of your identity may be in control of your behaviour and thoughts at different times." - Mind
Mackenzie has the restrictive subtype of Anorexia.
Katy has Emotional Overeating. So if I'm sad, I eat; if I'm angry, I eat; if I feel I can't communicate something, I eat. Pretty much, if I feel an emotion it requires a food response which I'm aware of.
Sarah is somewhere on the Autistic spectrum (undiagnosed) so she has severe difficulties in tolerating certain types of food due to sensory issues.
Eli struggles with trauma so she struggles with eating due to trauma memories, she gags at certain foods, feels anxious and distressed.
Hannah is Bulimia though thankfully this has been in recovery for 8 years.
Because of my DID and different identities food choices are limited and because of this it makes eating a nutritionally balanced diet a challenge.
The other way DID affects us is if we have a spell of amnesia and do not remember if we have eaten or not, or if one alter is restricting, another alter might switch out and binge, this used to cause a lot of arguments within our group.
Sometimes we need 'safe' textures or flavours to bring us out of a de-realisation episode. We can get through a packet of mints whilst trying to focus on the taste to bring us back to current awareness of our surroundings which is a grounding technique.
Regarding body image, my identities have no idea what we really look like. We have an idea of what we look like because we see ourselves in photographs. We avoid mirrors because the person in the mirror seems to change, or sometimes we will look and not recognise myself.
When we were 15 I was admitted to an Eating Disorder Unit which helped me emotionally. Then I had no professional input for my mental health until 8 years ago at the age of 30 and then I started working with a specialist DID therapist and now I've started to begin my recovery journey for both my DID and eating disorders.
My final message is that I wish you all a safe journey to recovery. It's a long process, but as the saying goes, "My worst days in recovery are better than the best days in relapse".
For more help and support visit:
*Gwen is a pseudonym; the writer of this post wished to remain anonymous