Social anxiety/low self esteem surrounding food

I suffered with an ED since early childhood through my 20's and into my 30's before I was eventually hospitalised and put on to the long road to recovery. I was in treatment for about a year, and it was only the threat of having to go through the programme for the nth time that I eventually agreed to put weight on.

That was about 10 years ago, and since then I've been able to maintain a reasonable weight. (Incidentally, I'm male).

However, the ED keeps rearing its head in the form of social anxiety surrounding eating. My wife just cannot understand why when we have a take away or even a home cooked pizza - I just cannot bring myself to help myself to what's there. I feel constantly that I do not deserve food and if it's in the middle of the table, it's there for others, not me. When this happens it triggers depression and feelings of very low self esteem.

This also happens in restaurants. I feel totally disinclined to order anything at all. Sometimes I've had to make excuses to leave and go home.

The resultant low mood can last for days afterwards when I hardly eat at all, and feel that I could easily slip back into full blown anorexia. It's only because I have a family now that I do not. I have to keep going for their sakes.

Today my wife brought home a large portion of chips (In the UK - we have fish and chip shops - which virtually define British cuisine :-)) and put it on the table for the whole family to pick from. I just ran out into the garden and left it to my children and wife. My wife came and found me and got angry that I wasn't 'joining in'. This made me feel even worse about myself.

I feel as if I'll never get away from these feelings of not being worth anything.

Pete

5 Replies

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  • Have you tried talking to your wife about your struggles - perhaps if you explained to her your difficulties and the feelings aroused for you in these "sharing" food activities (I too find these situations very difficult - and have found ways around them as much as possible) she might be more supportive. I know I often find it easier if the food is on the plate - so the decision is taken from me and I don't have to spend agonizing time trying to work out what and how much I should have. Maybe in restaurants your wife could even order for you until you build up the strength to begin to do this yourself. It is so hard to explain to others the struggles when these activities are so "normal" for them - another tack for eating out I find helps - my friends/family now give me the menu in advance and I make my selection alone - tell them what I'll have and they put the order in. Hope this helps.

  • Thanks for the reply and the ideas. I can try some of those out.

    My wife knows about my struggles from the past, but I do not want her to get worried again now.

    It's very hard to even be in a restaurant. I always think that the other people there are looking at me, even though I sort of know that they're not.

    Crazy and mixed up. It uses up a lot of my energy each day worrying about eating anything. I often go all day without eating anything because I'm worried that people in my house will criticize me for it. I might eat just before going to bed.

  • I suspect your wife - just as my husband - already knows that things are difficult for you - I was amazed that after I'd shared my struggles - although he couldn't change how I felt - he was a lot more understanding and allowed me to use my own strategies for coping. Perhaps going to a dietician/counsellor might help you? Starving all day is clearly not healthy. The hardest step is often seeking help - but living daily in this constant battle I know is exhausting - talking to someone else might at least reduce some of the stress - and might provide you with coping strategies. You could contact ABC I know they could help - they also have a befriending scheme so you would not feel so alone in your struggles.

  • Thanks for the ideas crossstitcher. If I asked my GP for help, they'd just say that I've had all the help they can offer. But I'm chipping away at it as best I can.......

  • Hi there

    You are in an awful situation and need to talk to someone who undertands and can help you.

    I fully recovered from binge eating disorder and anorexia. I am a counsellor and I help others to beat their ED. I have been working professionally in the field for 25 years. It makes such a difference to talk to someone who has been there themselves.

    I offer counselling via Skpe and at the Therapy centre in Hexham.

    If you would like to talk to someone who can truly empathise and understand what you are going through then please contact me. My rates are competitive and I offer discounts to those on low incomes.

    I hope you find help somewhere.

    Take care

    Mark

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