Three’s a crowd – personifying anorexia and bulimia

Personification is a figure of speech in which a thing, an idea or an animal is given human attributes. The non-human objects are portrayed in such a way that we feel they have the ability to act like human beings.

Who remembers the tv sitcom Three’s Company? Jack the clumsy culinary student, Crissy the ditzy secretary and Janet the level-headed aspiring dancer living together in an apartment managed by their landlords the Ropers. I have very fond memories of watching this sitcom during family time on our local tv channel as a child. Their living situation made me think of what it is like housing an eating disorder, or in my case two eating disorders.

*the reason I use the term housing is not to downgrade the seriousness of a mental illness, but to illustrate that it is like an unwelcomed guest that made itself comfortable in your mind*

In the tv series Jack pretends to be gay in order to live with Janet and Crissy. Mr Roper was always suspicious of Jack and mocked his sexuality. Jack had to constantly hide the girls he brought over to the apartment, while Janet and Crissy played along to his schemes.

In a sense living with an eating disorder is very much the same. I always felt like the third wheel, the one standing on the side line, and even though I thought I was making the decisions, it was just an illusion because anorexia and bulimia controlled my every thought and action. I had to hide them from the world because if they were discovered, they will be taken away from me and at the time I was not ready to let go. I was also scared of what people might think of me if they have to find out that these unwanted guests were occupying my body and mind.

Anorexia and bulimia are NOT friendly flatmates AT ALL! Amidst their grip you are deceived into believing that they have your back, that you are safe and will always be welcomed with open arms as you would a long-lost friend. Anorexia is the bitchy, back-stabbing spoilt brat. She pretends to be your friend by luring you in with false promises such as “You will feel so much better if you lose just 1 more kilogram”, “You don’t have to tell your dietician you skipped a meal yesterday, she won’t understand that you didn’t have time to eat”. She quickly turn you against those who love you and who only wants the best for you, by filling your head with lies “All they care about is whether you eat”, “They don’t want to listen to your issues, they have their own problems”. She is vicious in her retaliation once she discovers that you broke the secret creed. She will stop at nothing until you are just a mere memory.

Bulimia is the discreet one. She comes unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. She robs you of the little self-respect you have left, and feeds on your insecurities. She is cunning and very clever, hiding herself from plain sight because “people can’t really see that you have an eating disorder, right?”. She makes you feel guilty for being hungry, guilty for eating (convincing you that if you stop now it has all been a waste), and then fills you with emptiness once you have ridden yourself of the food you ate.

The day I decided to evict (so to speak) the annoying tenants and finally seeing that three is a crowd, was life changing. The journey of rebuilding your body and mind by replacing your destructive habits with things such as healthy living and positive reinforcement is possible.

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