Wordnetweb defines Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as “an anxiety disorder characterised by recurrent and persistent thoughts and feelings and repetitive, ritualised behaviours.”
A lot of eating disordered behaviours and eating disordered rules revolve around compulsions. A lot of my own food rules used to revolve around compulsions also, and these are things I have made mention of before. Rules such as eating only 1/2 a cup of yoghurt or 23 almonds; eating 23 bites of an apple or cutting out complete food groups. Suddenly, I started counting things all the time. I would count my steps, only walk over lines with my right food and stand in the shower for 180 seconds before getting out. I would go swimming and count my laps: I would weigh myself obsessively prior to and post exercise.
So I thought I had mostly kicked all of these habits until just recently when L brought it to my attention. As I mentioned in this post here, I have started swimming again. I was going to the pool and swimming half a kilometre twice a week, which is a far cry from the 2-3km I used to swim three or four times a week (never again!). But yeah, I was counting my laps. And sometimes I don’t even consciously do it, it’s just such a habit now that it seemed like no big deal. But it is (was!) a big deal. And so I had to do something to change it. Yesterday I went for a swim and decided I’d stay in the pool for half an hour. The first few laps I started counting but then I prayed over the top of the counting in my head and eventually I just swam, not knowing how many laps were completed. Of course it made me feel panicked, and of course it was uncomfortable but isn’t all change until we become accustomed to it?
For those of you without eating disorders: I hope this (in some small way) helps you to understand eating disorders just that little more. And for those of you with eating disorders – what compulsions are you still holding on to that you need to let go to continue to move forward with recovery?
Don’t let your ED win.