I have two jobs.

I sometimes feel like my eating disorder is my full time job. Then I realise that it isn't a surprise I feel tired; we aren't designed for two full time jobs.
As some of you may know, my "proper" job is performing 5 nights a week and doing daytime duties of rehearsals and working with kids. All the waking moments both in and out of my job comes my second job: eating disorder worry queen.
That job is much less straightforward. It's worrying endlessly about if I'm anorexic enough, thin enough, good enough… it's constant thought about what/when to eat, if I can eat, what is a safe amount? It's taking photos of myself naked in a billion positions in my bedroom mirror to try and work out whether I'm big or small, or checking how much or little my bones are visible. All in all, it's working at something that doesn't give you a reward that anybody sane would want.
A sad truth is that lots of dancers have eating disorders. You might think that nobody could exercise so much or have the ability to dance and maintain an eating disorder, but I can assure you it happens all the time. I can think of about 10 people off the top of my head who are dancers (or were, or are in full time training to be) who all having anorexia or bulimia. Unfortunately, being lean isn't unusual in the dance world and so it's easy to carry on "eating clean" or "on a new plan". People rarely question it. Regularly, you're on stage in a bra and hot pants or a skin tight leotard, all of which would reveal any hint of a stomach in seconds. You wouldn't want your upper arms to be wobbly when they're on show 24/7, would you?
When I think of this not so unusual situation, I'm reminded of Emma Woolf's book An Apple A Day. She speaks several times about how she called her condition "functional anorexia", because she was doing her life (albeit less social, less energised, less normal) but keeping her anorexia, rationalising that it wasn't a problem because she was still doing x, y, z. On reflection, the book details how sneaky anorexia is. How you can be thin, but have just enough energy to get by, or so much obsession that going on that run is just about possible. How you can shove loved ones off the case because you aren't rapidly dropping weight, but instead maintaining in a small zone considered safe, even though the safe zone is not physically a healthy one. The perfectionism of anorexia can cross over into your normal life and force you to do everything- to keep the Ed and to keep whatever bits of your life you have going on. For anybody else, doing it all wouldn't be possible, but the mind is far too powerful.

3 thoughts on “I have two jobs.

  1. That sounds like what I was living for the most part. I was an athlete and had such dense muscles (higher weight) that dangerously low body fat/malnutrition wasn’t obvious. I’ve survived for so many years staying under the radar. It was only when I got really sick that I ended up in treatment. The thing is, it all caught up to me finally and now it’s a full time job trying to recover.

      • When I danced I felt the same way. There’s no pictures of that time so I’ll never know. I felt like the chinkiest even as a little girl in dance classes. I suspect I looked like everyone else.

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