A series of posts uncovering what is really beneath my anorexia and depression.
Reason 1 – Susceptible Genetic Temperament Traits
Each of us is born with “genetic temperament traits” that strongly influence who we are as people. According to the Child Development Institute, there are 9 Temperament Traits.
Some genetic temperament traits make some people more susceptible to developing an eating disorder than others. Of the 9 temperament traits, some side-effects, if you will, include:
- Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
- Harm or risk avoidance
- Sensitivity to rejection
- Lack of impulse control
Check, check, and CHECK. When I read this, I thought, “That’s it. I’ve been set up. It was only a matter of time before Ana took complete control.”
I’ve always had all of these traits in fairly obvious form, but when Ana took charge, these each multiplied exponentially.
Ana made me anxious about everything. Where I could go. Who I could go with. Who I could be friends with. What I could handle. How bad of a mother I was. That my marriage would end any day. What I could eat. What I could NOT eat. Who would notice what I eat. I needed to breathe…
My perfectionism went into overdrive. I was obsessed with my job and doing everything just right. But mainly, Ana focused my perfectionism on herself. I meticulously counted calories and weighed myself, and had about a billion food rules and rituals. If I broke any of them, I berated myself for being a terrible human who deserved nothing. Here’s the problem:
Obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I checked and double-checked everything. My body in the mirror. My portions on a food scale. My weight on a body scale. How my body looked in any piece of clothing. I had to do my morning routine in the exact same order every morning so my weight would be as low as possible. My husband is my opposite. He drops things wherever he is when he no longer needs them. I screamed at him more times than I care to admit for these harmless habits of his.
I have always valued security and stability, most of those who know me know. I will almost always choose the known over the unknown. I avoid risk and/or harm. In relationships. In career choices. In food. I ate the same things over and over again for months because I knew exactly what they were, how many calories, fat grams, what was in them. I knew what would allow me to lose weight. I didn’t go places where I wasn’t completely sure what the food situation would be. My social anxiety and isolation escalated as I attempted to avoid any uncertainty regarding relationships, and of course, food.
Rejection is something I have always struggled with immensely. I am very aware of how I perceive others are reacting to me. If I think someone doesn’t like me or I’m offending them, I immediately take action to rectify it. If someone is flaky, I don’t put up with it more than twice. I’m keenly aware when I’m not “cool” enough with certain groups. Ana helped me deal with this. She was always there for me, encouraging me as I became thinner. She helped me deal with feelings of rejection from my husband, daughter, family, and friends.
When it comes to my relationship with food, it’s one of two extremes: endless permission or heavy restriction. I lack impulse control and do not trust myself with food in normal circumstances. For the last 2 months, I’ve been on the endless permission end of the spectrum. Ana helped me with my lack of impulse control. It was so easy to say no to everything, than to try to have a normal amount of something and stop.
So yeah. I would say I started out with Ana from the beginning through these genetic temperament traits. Often, it seems as if she is my destiny. If this is what I was born with, how can I ever change it?