I understand that fanmail allows more characters than asks, making it easier to share personal experiences that don’t easily fit into a few sentences. As I can’t directly respond to fanmail, I will continue to post them anonymously to give senders the best access to a response.
"I have a problem. I have an eating disorder, but instead of bingeing and purging, I binge and then starve. I tried some techniques to work through it but it seems most of the self help books are either for binge eaters, or anorexics, and advice for one part of my issue does’t help when I’m having the opposite issue. Anyway I don’t really know if I am looking for advice from you, but I wanted to say thanks for you comic, it makes me feel less alone in my food struggles and depression. I hope we both get to good places eventually if not soon.
if you want to put this up could you keep me anonymous please.
thanks for everything”
I’ve indulged in similar patterns in the past. One thing I’ve learned is that while there are common trends, there’s no ‘normal’ when it comes to disordered eating. I know that can make it difficult to find the right support resources, but please know that everything you’re going through is valid.
One thing I’ve found helpful lately for getting nutrients into the body is drinking through a thin straw. My GP has me on Sustagen (nutritional supplement powder mixed with milk) which I really struggle to get down. Having it ice cold through a thin straw is helping because not only is there very little entering my mouth at once, but the extreme cold helps numb the taste so I can just get it down. This may work with smoothies or eggflips too, if that’s your thing.
When it comes to bingeing, I find that a distracting activity that keeps my fingers busy can really help. Fiddly jigsaw puzzles are great for this if you can get your hands on them. Otherwise video games, playing an instrument or even popping bubble wrap has been known to help. It’s different for everyone, but distraction can go a long way.
I’m sorry that you’re struggling so much right now, but please know that you are never alone. Scores of others before us have fought this battle and won. We will join their ranks one day soon.
"I feel like I am “choosing” depression, too. I feel so horrible and guilty, and it makes me doubt if I am even sick, cuz it’s not like someone “chooses” any other kind of illness. I hope you’re doing a lot better than I am right now. Reading your comic makes me feel less alone and weird. I hope you are getting better."
Thank you so much for your encouragement and concern. It really makes a difference. I hope today is better for you than yesterday was.
We don’t choose depression, but because our ailments are invisible, it’s tempting to think (or for others to imply) that we can just stop being unwell. The addition of that guilt and shame can be a trigger for even further upsets. But as my partner constantly reminds me, we didn’t choose this. It’s a part of our lives, and something we can work on, but we didn’t do anything to deserve this sadness. Who would choose to be miserable? At the end of the day, all we can choose is to keep fighting and moving forward. There are so many good days waiting for us on the other side of this. You deserve to reach those good days. Stay strong.
"Hey, I just wanted to thank you for some of the advice you posted on your blog recently. I’ve always had a bad habit of scratching and pinching my hands when I get really nervous or upset. Pretty tame as far as self-harm goes and it’s never really bothered me that I do it since I never had any intention of going farther than that.
But last night I was just in a really bad place, and I was scratching harder than I ever had before, until my hands were aching and I thought I might draw blood. I remembered what you’d written about holding an ice cube as a way to avoid self-harm or panic, so I ran to the kitchen and grabbed one pretty hard in each hand. It hurt like HELL all the way down to the elbow and after a minute or two of shivering, all that energy had drained out of me and the urge to scratch was gone. I did end up with some red patches and tiny friction blisters from the scratching, but the ice diverted me enough that I didn’t do any worse than that.
I really just wanted to thank you.”
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m glad you were able to find a way to cope get through that moment that was kinder to your body. Sometimes our emotional stress just needs an outlet, and that’s OK. The fact that you are willing to offer yourself that kindness when you need it is amazing. You are wonderful, and you deserve to be treated as such.
For others struggling with self-harm, here is the list of strategies in question: