I don’t blame the city—we live in a capitalist society that makes or breaks a person’s will / bank account. So where did I find the middle? I just didn’t eat.
Where budget planning goes way way way wrong—I used my excuse of living “in one of the most expensive cities in the world” to mask the fact that I wasn’t eating enough. My constant fear of not being able to pay for a coffee or scone manifested itself in skipping meals and ultimately burning body fat percentage. Like food, like finance: how eating disordered behaviors manifest in money.
People will tell you over and over again to carry a money journal around, which is very wise in this day and age of payable phone apps, chipped reader’s, and Venmo. For me, food felt like a luxury at some points in life and a privilege at others. By no means does this insinuate that my life is any better or worse than those say who starve daily, I’m merely making the point that this particular eating disorder is rare and is brought about by the anxiety of cold hard cash. Picture this, you’re out with friends; you go to a favorite restaurant and as you order, sweat begins to bead down your sides because the thought of spending money absolutely terrifies you. Same goes for grocery stores, as the total racks up, the guilt begins to climb and climb to a peak point where you think, “I don’t need this much food.”
It had strung about in my most recent therapy session — we had hopped onto the topic of money, very simple and straightforward. We go down the list from jobs, to trips, to spending. When food and meals are brought up, I burst out in tears. “Why did eating trigger you?” my therapist asks with a slight grin on her face, “I haven’t eaten today and I’m afraid to buy anything” I respond with trepidation in my voice. The therapist replies, “I want you to go home and look up the phrase ‘Financial Anorexia’“ to my surprise, it totally means what it sounds like.
The Eating Disorder Specialists of America agree that this type of fear with food flies under the radar more often than not, “Food and finance are fickle friends for many individuals struggling with all sorts of eating disordered behaviors. Those who struggle with anorexia often restrict spending money on everything from food to treatment to self-caring gifts like books, manicures, or clothes.“ A nail in the coffin. My years of calling my mom out of fear brought up so many thoughts of how I viewed the Benjamin in the way of my personal health. I refuse to step onto the scale as I know in numbers, I haven’t changed since my freshman year in college. What I was more worried about was my body fat percentage and how much more bonier I was becoming. It scared me to see that my face was clearing up along with seeing the hollows of my face.
A novel thought to think—could my relationship with both be toxic? Could I be in a toxic relationship with the item that nourishes me (physically and metaphorically?) Because an eating disorder isn’t really about the food, just as an addiction to alcohol or drugs isn’t really about the substance. I employed strategies that made my mind and body familiar with these destructive habits. More often than not, the issue boils down to ones self worth — mine is at a constant 0. Ultimately, the sense of safety, relief, or comfort we seek cannot be found by manipulating how we eat or how we spend.
I haven’t found my devices that can better prepare my relationships with the two but my steadfast decision to get better is the incomparable ingredient of my commitment to recovery.
// Feature photo by Jill Burrow.