Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Anorexia and OCD

Over the years I have developed some pretty strange eating habits
They are like little rituals that have to be done in a certain way
Here's an example of a few of them

I drink a lot of tea and I'm very particular about what cup I drink out of
I only drink out of certain cups and I have about 10 that I use
They have to be narrow cups
Tall and thin so they stay hotter for longer
I'm not sure why but I won't drink out of just any cup
It has to be the right cup and if it's not I don't enjoy the tea as much
I remember in treatment there was a little kitchenette on the ward
Cups were provided but all the eating disorder girls brought in their own cups including me
One day a new girl (not an ed patient) came on to the ward and she started to use my cup
She drank out of it for a couple of days and I was silently seething
Eventually I couldn't stand it any longer and I had to say it to her
She was very apologetic and I felt kind of silly making a big deal out of it but I was very attached to that cup
Oh my God, I'm officially losing it
Who gets attached to a cup?
I also eat a lot of things out of cups instead of bowls including soup and ice cream
I have to have a cup of tea with a cigarette
I take a sip between each drag
Here's a couple of my favourite cups
The one on the left has a lid and a tea strainer
The one on the right is the one I used in treatment

I'm very particular about what cutlery I use
I have certain knives, forks and spoons that I use
And also bowls and plates
Again I'm not sure why but only these ones will do
I tend to go for small plates and bowls
If I am eating soup I use a tea spoon
I think this may be because it takes longer to eat that way

Conditions have to be perfect when I'm eating
I don't eat at the kitchen table and I definitely don't eat with other people
I prepare my food in the kitchen and then bring it in to the living room
I sit cross legged on the floor beside the fire place
I like to watch tv while I'm eating
Sometimes if the ads come on, I stop eating until my programme comes back on
Well, there's more
I'm a condiment junkie
I put brown sauce on everything
Also I keep the salt and pepper beside me at all times while I'm eating
I remember when I was a child eating dinner I used to keep the meat until last as it was my favourite part of the meal
I usually choose food that takes a short time to prepare and a long time to eat
I eat pretty slowly
Savouring every mouthful
Although if I'm binging I eat quite quickly
I think it's a huge myth that people with anorexia don't like food and we survive on lettuce
I love my food just as much as the next person
Maybe even more
And contrary to popular belief I eat chocolate and carbs and sweets
The second I finish eating the urge to purge is overwhelming
It is also a ritual
I'm already on the way to the bathroom as I'm chewing the last mouthful
I lock the bathroom door
Tie my hair back
Roll up my sleeves
Lift up  the toilet seat
Bow over the toilet and proceed to purge
Afterwards I clean the toilet, wash my hands and face, being careful not to leave any evidence
Like it never happened

I absolutely hate it if someone interrupts my eating
I just can't talk to anyone while I'm eating
Meal times are supposed to a social occasion but for me it's a solitary affair
Also I can't stand to let others see me eat
For me it's the equivalent of going to the toilet in front of someone

At bedtime I have another ritual
At 10pm I make myself a ham and mustard sandwich and leave it down in my bedroom ready for when I go to bed (My dog has been known to find it and eat while lying on my bed)
When I'm going to bed I make myself a cup of tea and eat the sandwich in bed reading a book
I cut the sandwich in to small squares and eat them all the same way, bite by bite
I've done this every night for years
I then purge and go back to bed
Often I will wake up in the middle of the night and have a cup of tea and a biscuit
It's not unusual for me to get up 2 or 3 times a night
I hate that I do this but I can't seem to stop

All these rules and rituals give me comfort
They make me feel safe
Like there is order in my world
I have my little routine and if something upsets it I get pretty anxious
Even something like an unexpected visitor can send me in to a tailspin
I am definitely a creature of habit
And once I have a rule or ritual I find it very difficult to break it
They say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit
And my having an addictive personality means I develop habits quickly
I used to be spontaneous
I used to do things on the spur of the moment
At the drop of a hat
But now I can't imagine being like that again even though I would like to
I think I use the rules and rituals as a way to deal with anxiety
If I do these things I feel calm and more in control
This is why anything unexpected throws me for a loop
Mary said that she only asked me to the talk 2 days before  because she knew if she asked me weeks in advance, I would have spent that time worrying about it
And she's right
My anxiety usually stems from  the future, the unknown
Not knowing what's going to happen causes me huge anxiety
And so I create all these little habits to ease it
I keep my cigarettes on the mantel piece
I line the box up so it's exactly on the edge
Then I make sure my lighter is exactly on the middle of the box
I suspect that I may have OCD tendencies
Although I've never spoken about it to anyone
But over time I've noticed that it's getting worse
More and more rules get added
Most of them have to do with food though so it may just be part of my eating disorder
When I'm eating crisps ( yes I do eat crisps!) I always have them with tea
I eat 2 crisps, have a sip of tea
2 more, have a sip of tea
I like things to be in even numbers
That feels right
Odd numbers just feel wrong for some reason

Am I the only one?
Do you have any rules or rituals like mine?
Do your centre mostly around food?
Inquiring minds want to know.......


  1. I never quite realized how many strange rituals I have until reading this.
    I always have to have the small silverware. Teaspoon and a bitty salad fork, or I won't eat. I'll wash all the dishes if I have to in order to use the small silverware, even snapped at my boyfriend for picking the little fork before.
    Then I like to use mugs for everything. Soup goes in a mug. Icecream, oatmeal, cereal, mac and cheese - anything most people eat from a bowl I have to have in a coffee mug.
    I take even numbers of bites of everything, chew an even number of times before I swallow. I sort anything that comes multicoloured.
    Even my cigarette breaks. I won't smoke if I don't have a drink, and I have to take a sip between every drag.
    I love your inquiring mind dear, you definitely gave me something to think about

    1. Oh my God I can totally relate
      I also eat many things out of mugs like soup and icecream
      And yes, I have to have a cup of teas with my smoke
      It's just not the same without it
      And like you a take a sip between each drag
      I'm so glad that I'm not the only one
      It must definitely be part of the eating disorder
      Thank you for this x

  2. I think most people with EDs have some sort of list of rules they follow in at least one aspect of life, especially food. For me I couldn't stnd certain things in the same dish/meal. I eat fruit only by its self. They do not go together with anything, no pancakes with bananas, not fruit in my lettuce salad, no mixing. I use to have a rule with salads that it had to be completly fat free but I have been activily breaking that rule for 2 weeks now! Lowfat cheese is a wonderful complement with salad and chickpeas. Its been very odd eating this mixture to me but like you said it takes a long time to develope a habit so I have been trying to have it about four days a week.

    1. I agree Josie
      I thought that I was developing OCD but in reality it's all part of my eating disorder
      These rules and rituals serve a purpose
      They become part of our lives
      And yes it will take time to break them
      Good luck breaking yours x

  3. TONS of rules and rituals. Not many the same as yours, however, but I do similar things just a bit nuanced:

    I don't cook. I'm afraid to eat hot things and I rarely keep things in the house. This means I eat a lot of M&S salads and count on us sandwiches, fruit, and if i have stuff in the house it is yogurt, almonds and rice cakes.

    If I buy a prepacked sandwich or salad, I have to eat it out of the prepackaged container. It cannot go on a plate, or in a bowl. It came in the container, it belongs in the container, and I actually get really on edge on the odd occasion (because now I'm alone most of the time so no issue there) when I'm having lunch at someones house and they've let me bring a salad because I cant have cooked food, and they put it on a plate. NOOOO!!! Why?! I don't know. I think maybe I'm afraid the plates aren't clean, or they aren't mine, but I've only ever thought of myself as having obsessive thoughts, not behaviours. Maybe it's just because I accept them and nobody challenges them enough to make them apparent.

    Also glasses. I have to drink water out of a bottle, I dislike sharing glasses. Same clean thing I think. Also my brother used to drink milk and the glass would sometimes taste of milk and it was ick and also, how many calories are in milk traces! Mad, I know, but every number must be accounted for.

    I hate eating in public.
    I like eating in my room while on my laptop or watching TV to distract me.
    I don't eat chocolate, but I do eat sweets and I like cookies without chocolate but I rarely eat them because I binge when eating them. I love cinnamon swirls, newyork vanilla cheesecake, strawberry milk (MUST BE FREEZING COLD) and almond croissants but just don't eat them often.

    Getting dressed is a ritual. I wear the same things, the same 3 cardis, black baggy t-shirt, black tights, black floaty skirt, occasionally a grey jumper. I wear them in cycle, literally not picking anything else from my wardrobe despite having far nicer clothes in there. I also HAVE to go to the bathroom before I can change my underwear or brush my teeth or get dressed. I literally will not get dressed until that. Even if I don't need to go. It's stupid but I can't. I was really late a few times at uni because my housemates were in the bathroom and so I couldn't get dressed. WEIRD.

    I eat lots of the same thing at a go, obsess over fibre content more than any other nutritional thing, other than kcals obviously.

    There are dozens more but I won't go on and bore you!!


    1. I can really relate to the clothes thing
      I have about 3 or 4 outfits that I wear over and over
      I only really get dressed properly if I'm going out
      But if I'm at home I always wear track suit bottoms and a hoodie
      Like you I have other nicer clothes but I rarely wear them
      Only on a special occasion
      It's great to see that I'm not the only one
      After I posted this I though 'Oh God, everyone is going to think that I am nuts'
      But it seems that people can identify

      Did you get anything in the post yet?
      You should get it soon x

    2. not today but hopefully tomorrow, you're such a sweetie :-) xxx

    3. Hopefully tomorrow
      It's only small but I hope it brightens up your day x

  4. Wow, amazing. Thanks for sharing. I am trying to bring more rituals into my life. When I am anxious I do nothing but stare at the wall so no real rituals there. I am trying to do my naturopathic medicine daily, I am trying to smudge (pray, give thanks) daily, work out for 30 minutes daily and write in my blog daily. I find it so hard to do this so I create a little calendar with spots to check off the tasks I completed in a day. If I get a week's worth then I give myself a reward!

    1. My rituals are tied to my anxiety I think
      They help me stay calm x

  5. I have habits like yours. In some ways.
    Every time I eat something, it has to be in a bowel. And I have about 2 bowels I use. I have a little hairline fracture in one of my bowls, and that's where the food has to be. It can't go past that. If it does, I get intense anxiety.
    I also have to eat with a spoon whenever I eat something. And I've found myself doing things in even numbers. Like while walking down the sidewalk, I have to take a certain number of steps for each square, and a certain number of steps to get to my destination. I hate odd numbers too. If i'm fasting, it has to be for an even amount of days. Like you, I don't know if it might be OCD tendencies, or if it's just part of my life with Ana.

    1. I'm not sure CJ but it seems a lot us with an eating disorder have these rules and rituals
      Although thinking back to when I was a child, I see that I had them then too, just not so many and I wasn't really aware of them x

  6. I can relate so much to this! I think your cup and cutlery rituals are very interesting as I do kind of similar things. I like eating with thin and small utensils. Like tall thin cups or really short cups. If I'm at home and eating alone I'll use a pickle fork and those really thin long spoons than are for who knows what. And like you with your tea I won't enjoy my food as much if I don't eat with the really small utensils.
    For sandwiches I break off small pieces with my hand and eat them that way. Soup I eat by dipping my spoon into the bowl and slurping up whatever stays on the spoon after I pour the liquid back into the bowl.
    I think ED people just gravitate towards rituals and traditions. We like order and rituals give us some semblance of that. I wonder if breaking our rituals would help us recover. Somehow I doubt it, but in treatment that was the strategy of one of the girls. Do you think it would work?

    1. I think it could help Emily
      I always eat alone and today my father asked me if I would eat dinner at the table with him
      I really don't want to but I'm going to give it a try
      His exact words to me were 'Ruby, we need to see some improvement'
      I think breaking our habits could help as we wouldn't be so rigid and inflexible
      I must talk to Mary about it x

  7. This post is very relatable. Although I developed quite severe OCD as a young child ( 4 or 5), long before my ED issues arose. They are very much intwined though.

    Most everything people eat on a plate, I eat in a bowl, salad, stir fry, pasta, well pretty much everything i eat. If I eat bread, I have it on a napkin or paper towel instead of a plate. Plates just seems so big and clunky and like they should be really full or something. I don't like them. I always have soup from a mug, not a bowl. and drink it rather than use a spoon. I take tiny, continuos sips of everything I drink. That one drives my mother nuts! I also always eat my veggies before anything else. Always have, even though my family all eats their meat first. I found that if I ate everything else, my mom might not make me eat the meat, when I was a kid that is.

    1. Yes the two seem to go hand in hand
      A lot of us seem to have these habits
      For me it's all about anxiety
      I do it to stay calm x

  8. It sounds like you're OCD dear but that's okay. Tons of people are and you know what the most effective way of fixing it is, scary enough? Exposure therapy. Making you leave your cigarette case askew and talk to her about it. I couldn't imagine. My mom's kinda OCD about being tidy and I drove her nuts.

    Let's see, I'm something of a bad anorexic in terms of order. I have weird ones not food related though. When I listen to my Ipod I have to see the song title and how long the song is exactly. If I listen to it a lot and know the name and band then I have to see how long it is.
    When I'm showering I have a routine and I set my stuff out accordingly. Shampoo, face wash, conditioner which sits in my hair for the rest of the time, body wash, shave (every day), then brush my teeth as I rinse my hair. Lotion after. Every time. I'm not upset if my routine is disrupted but I do that.

    I'm a spontaneous person so it's sorr of random OCD things.

    I like cups too. :) my favorite is my Spiderman tall, skinny mug and one that has a grandma on it saying "don't make me butch slap you." from my mom. I collect interesting mugs. I don't need them but I love them.


    1. Yea, I've heard of exposure therapy
      I saw a documentary about it
      I can see how it would be helpful
      I mean what's the worst that could happen if my cigs were not lined up properly or a drank out of a different cup
      I didn't realise I had so many rules until I wrote them all out x

  9. I have so, so many. I won't list them all here, but they extend much farther than food for me. Everything I do has a ritual and it has to be done just so.

    Similar to you though, I am attached to cups and cutlery. I only drink coffee out of a silver 500ml thermos mug, no questions. Currently I own three (two came on my holiday) have broken over ten, and will continue to replace them.
    I also don't eat with big spoons at all, only forks, steak knives, teaspoons and dessert forks. I also have a set of crockery that's mine, because they're smaller. I have 1/2 cup, 2/3 cup and 1 cup bowls, and a set of smaller plates too. That's more a portion sizing thing, though.

    Love you dear ruby. You're in my thoughts. Xx

  10. It's amazing how many people have these rules and rituals
    Mine go further than food too
    There is something comforting about the rhythmic nature of carrying out a ritual

    Hope you're doing ok sweetheart

    Love you x

  11. I have a few habits too, I have a tea cup as well, it's the same shape as the smaller one in your picture but the floral pattern on mine is black and white. I also eat with a teaspoon, and if I'm visiting my family and they put a large spoon on the table I swap it with a small one lol. I never eat a meal without a drink of water, and I almost always drink my water out of a bottle, not glasses. I eat pretty much every meal out of a bowl, unless it is toast or something, I sometimes count my steps, not on purpose I just suddenly realise I've been doing it.. I have a skin care routine morning and night, which I guess isn't that weird? But I have been doing it since I was 12 and do the same routine every morning and night and I would be upset if I was unable to do it.
    Also, eating out mugs instead of bowls is a good idea really, smaller portions.. my bowls are too big...
    It was interestng to read about your rituals, thanks for sharing :)
    Alice xx

    1. A lot of us seem to prefer bowls over plates
      I wonder why that is
      I'm just glad I'm not the only one with these rules x

  12. Oh yea... cups and bowls - and spoons and chopsticks. They need to be small, roundish and cute. SO where does this get me? I usually use kids' ware. I also have two different ways to eat: I either shovel it down without thinking (recovery mode, thinking this is how it's supposed to be done) and a slow when I think, separate, cut play, nibble and do everything imagined to keep the food from disappearing.

    I don't really know why I hate plates so much. Bowls are more comfortable and give me comfort ans while everything else has to be roundish I prefer square plates. A plate cannot be totally round or other wise I won't use it. I can use it occasionally if it's not white porcelain... but totally white, round and porcelain that just makes me gag and I don't want to touch the food.

    So you're not the only one

    1. I can relate to that Tatyana
      I have 2 ways of eating
      Frantic and quick
      Or slow and carefully

      So glad I'm no the only one x

  13. I have some real definite food rules, and also about my dishes, etc. The part about feeling like these things create order is very true for me also. I have a lot of non-food behavior related rules as well, so the anorexia and the diagnosed OCD end up getting all mixed up together. Like you mention, the fear of the unknown just seems so daunting, so having order in the things that can be controlled seems to help. I will say, though, that challenging some rules is both scary and liberating. After I can get over the anxiety, it really is a freeing experience. Take care!

    1. Same as me Alie
      These rules are an effort to have some control in my world
      In reality though, they don't really help
      It doesn't stop me using them though

      Take care of you too x

  14. I don't have rules or rituals like that around food utensils that I know of except getting annoyed if people use my lunchboxes for leftovers, because I only have two. One to use and one to wash, lol. Washing it after every shift seems excessive but having more than two would just be silly.

    If it is a way of calming anxiety, what is stressing you out and making you anxious? If they become something that negatively impacts your life it would be a good idea to try to ease out of them. I get set in my routines and like advance warning of things, but once I'm out of the house and on a proper 'Adventure' anything goes. Lol be warned of that if I get my arse up that way. ADVENTURES FTW! I learned from the best, an american whose host parents transliterated her name to 'Adventure Goose' for a damn good reason!

    I've kinda come to accept the fact that Mum is an insensitive cuntface. Doesn't stop her comments from enraging me, even though I expect the level of ignorance.

    I'm not quite pulling my hair out yet but it is falling out from stress. It does that, especially around house moves and exam times.

    Love you heaps. Take care of yourself, ok? Going to miss you :(


  15. It's definitely an anxiety thing for me Peri
    Having all these rules makes it feel like there is some order in my world

    I'm sorry that your mum is that way
    You don't deserve to be treated like that
    You just don't need that in your life

    Love you to bits X

  16. Even before the destructive parts of my ED developed I've had wierd habits. I never use a spoon unless I'm eating yogurt or icecream, and I have to use a child sized spoon. I eat tomato soup with a fork. I hate the way spoons taste. I have never used big forks, I prefer small ones. I check my cutlery before using it, it offends people at times but my family has come to accept it as normal behaviour. I have to chew everything evenly, meaning if I chew someting on my left side I also need to chew it on the right, the same number of times. I click my teeth, again I have to keep it equal on both sides. I smell my cups before using them. I'll empty a cupboard looking for the perfect cup. I've always thought these things were unique to me but reading your post and the comments you've recieved I've realized I'm not all that unique. Wierd.

  17. I can relate Penny
    For as long as I can remember I've always counted steps and I prefer when it is an even number
    And it seems a lot of us have a thing about bowls and small spoons
    It's fascinating really
    I'd love to know the psychology behind it x

  18. Dear Ruby, i nver realize all this until i read ur blog today... I actually have quite a number of rules that i follow. But this two is the most common.

    1) i only eat and drinks on one paired of plate/mug/cutlery. Which i buy different from what i have at home. I but suitable with my liking n i realized so far i only bought in white+blue color. I didnt use or buy anything else until my fave break or rotten.

    2) i spent most of my days with travelling. Which mean im driving. I like to tailed with only one car! When the car in front me change lane, i followed. When finally he/she reach their destination, i will feel sad n felt like crying. I mean who get so attached with car or strangers? Sometime i wish i could wave goodbye.

    Strange me...

    Jane Parker

  19. Finally found someone I can relate to! I have been diagnosed with OCD and with ED. I have rituals that need to be followed or I have anxiety and feel guilt. Same cup for coffee, same cup for tea. Eat fruit same time every day, same ;lunch everyday (lettuce and 2 pickled eggs, small amount of dressing. supper is what ever but small portions. No carbs before 5 pm. Cereal between 8 and 9 pm. Two ounces of whiskey between 9 pm and bedtime. I could go on but you get the picture.


Thank you for leaving some love x