You see a night out with friends. A chance to let loose, have a drink, enjoy good company and finally time to relax and have fun! You look forward to catching up, seeing old friends, laughing and even dancing!
I on the other hand, only see the paralyzing anxiety. You see, social events with an eating disorder are never too fun. I’ll stop you right now just to correct you from saying “Well there will be ‘safe’ food options”. Eating disorders are not just about food. Let’s just walk through the fun process of a night out with friends when you have an eating disorder.
Step 1: Get Invite
People with eating disorders are generally great at bullshitting. Although the number of social invites have declined over the last few years (because most people know I will say no), I still get them occasionally. I consider myself a nice person so I generally reply with an “Oh that sounds great I’ll have to check my calendar”, just as well knowing I probably have a date with my couch that night.
Step 2: Will I Consider Going
Now a lot of times I don’t even get to Step 2 because I am having a bad body image day and if that’s the case there is no way in hell I am leaving my house. But, on the off chance, I am having a good day, I run through a dialogue with the details of the events: Where is the event? A beach? Fuck no. A bar? No, I am not about to wear tight jeans and a crop top. A cook out? Maybe….How hot is it going to be? If it’s too hot, that means long sleeves and pants are out, which means I’m out. Who is going? Anyone that is triggering? Will there be food? Will there be options I feel safe with? How far away is it, I need to know I can leave if the anxiety is too much? Do I have an outfit in mind that I could wear or do I need to go shopping to find a new one? If I don’t go who am I disappointing? If I don’t show, will I lose another friend to this?
Step 3: End all Be All- Finding Clothes
Well if I make it to step 3, hallelujah!!! But this is the most emotionally draining part. I wish I was being dramatic when I say having the right clothes is a huge factor in whether or not I go to any social event. I could spend a week straight brainstorming ideas. I usually spend 4 hours trying on outfits, only to find nothing, get frustrated, cry and then not go. I may find motivation to go spend another $40 bucks to find another outfit, but usually, this debacle puts me in a terrible mood which welcomes the ED voice (What’s that? Blog to come!) to grow louder and stronger, resulting in behaviors and a big bitch mood:)
Step 4: “Enjoying” The Night
So if I find an outfit it’s miraculous, but I bet you fifty bucks the morning of I try it on again and suddenly I look like I have gained 10 pounds. If I do however manage to get to the event, I feel awkward the whole time. While you talk to me about your new job, I am focusing on how much skinnier your arms are. While everyone is laughing at a joke, I am wondering who is thinking about how much weight I have gained. I loathe myself for every word that comes out of my mouth, wondering how I could be so awkward. Even if I am ‘just sitting there’, I am never just sitting there. I am moving my legs to minimize my thigh fat pressing against the chair, I am hunching my shoulders to try and look smaller, I am wondering how many carbs are in this glass of wine (allowing myself wine is fairly a new thing yes…thank you eating disorder!)
Not everyone with an eating disorder has the same steps or thoughts, but I write this so supports can get an idea. An idea of how exhausting any social event can be- whether there’s 3 people or 50, whether it’s family and friends or complete strangers. Having an eating disorder means putting extra time and energy into every single task or event, that most of you don’t think twice about.