Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why I Hate Halloween

I hate Halloween.  Apparently, that makes me a horrible person.

Halloween has become all about the costumes, the pumpkins, and... the candy. 
And for someone who struggles with any type of eating disorder, this is the most terrifying thing.  

Halloween signals the beginning of the holiday season. A time that begins on October 31st and ends on January 1st.  On Halloween, it is expected that a person over-indulges in chocolate and candy corn and cupcakes and cookies and all sorts of sweet treats.  

Replace cookie with any Halloween food.
For people like me, who are just starting to seek out "real recovery," this poses a huge problem.  I literally cannot walk anywhere without being bombarded with sweets.  Last night, my dining hall had its Halloween dinner, which meant that our dining center was filled with candy and caramel apples and cupcakes and sweet treats and so much "junk food." The fact that there was an abundance of "unhealthy" foods, most of which are fear foods of mine, was just overwhelming.  Then there's the idea that there were limited low-calorie options available at dinner for me to eat.  Which "normal eating" should not revolve around calories of the food consumed, but at this point in my recovery, I am having a hard enough time consuming anything at all.  What I am eating, I am calorie counting and right now, I am unhealthily limiting of my caloric intake.  So when there are not low calorie options available, I am less likely to eat anything (remember that anorexics do not simply just not eat--they do eat, just not enough to maintain a healthy energy level).  

Or it can take a completely different form.  

Around so many high calorie comfort foods, I am often tempted, especially since I have been restricting so much, to just eat everything.  This would be diagnostically considered an objective binge, something that is very common with patients with anorexia just because of how the human brain works.  But after the binge episode comes the temptation of purging.  Yeah.  Then the shame and guilt that comes along with that. 

Then there's a completely different aspect of Halloween that a lot of people don't even think about.  The costumes.  As a young female, the costumes have less and less material.  It seems like Halloween is an excuse to show as much skin as possible so that you can be seen as "sexy."  

Well, body image issues accompany eating disorders.  I don't dress up for Halloween anymore, mainly because I don't celebrate it anymore, but also because I don't care about it.  It's a holiday that makes me uncomfortable because of food reasons, so I choose to ignore its existence as much as I can.  

But not celebrating Halloween doesn't remove the stress of seeing all of the other girls in barely any clothes and it doesn't stop me from making comparisons of myself to them.  Usually, these exist in a distorted form of upward social comparisons (distorted because I cannot accurately perceive my own appearance), which result in low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy.  Which then fuel my anorexia.  It's a vicious cycle.  

 Trick or treating junior year.
Trick or treating senior year.
When I was younger, even when I was in high school and even with my eating disorder, I used to love Halloween.  I loved dressing up and going out with my friends to get treats.  I was able to focus so much on the fun aspects of it that I could ignore the uncomfortable-ness caused by my anorexia.  I'm not sure what changed--I think it can be attributed to both internal and external factors, though.  It's not just one or the other.  

So tomorrow?  It's going to be a particularly rough day for me for all of the reasons I listed above.  I'm not particularly looking forward to it, unlike every other person I know and am surrounded by. 

I just hate Halloween.  I didn't used to, and maybe some day I won't.  But for now, I'm just going to be okay with the fact that it invokes so much unpleasantness in me and pull out my distress tolerance skills and hope it all ends soon.

Why recovery is necessary: So I can learn to love Halloween and everything that it encompasses and not just be worried about just getting it over with.