It’s 2011, the weekend of Halloween. I am ready to go out! Makeup is done and I look on-point. I am feeling skinny today, as I had to prep all week by letting my ED take over. I got my outfit set and it’s cute and sexy! I am feeling excited about tonight.
Outfit goes on and I immediately start to obsess about how my belly looks… I should know better than to wear a leotard that is TIGHT, but the leotard will make me “control” how much I eat because I refuse to have my belly look big… or so I think. Thoughts of “I can’t eat or drink” start to take over – anxiety forms like a cloud above me.
I meet up with my friends before going to the party. Everyone is in good sprits, in costume, and feeling lively. I need to let go of my anxiety. I celebrate with everyone else, but I feel the discomfort in my outfit. I feel bloated and all I want to do is purge and to be home in my sweat pants.
I am committed to this evening. I am young and in love – I need to be social. The night ends with me drinking too much and purging. No one judges me (as it’s Halloween and I’m fresh out of college). This is how most Halloween nights went when I was sick. Everyone has different triggers, but here were my big ones:
- Anxiety about candy everywhere and big parties,
- Negative body image because I’m dressing in an inauthentic manner + showing skin.
- Comparison to everyone. Comparing bodies, costumes, creativity, looks. Comparing it all.
- Alcohol – a bandage used to settle ED thoughts and actions. Alcohol always ends up triggering worse thoughts and actions. Know your limits when it comes to drinking.
When I was sick, nearly all Halloweens went this way: I wore a costume that felt uncomfortable. I judged and compared myself to other females at parties. I drank to deal with discomfort and binged on candy. The cycle would continue until the season of triggers ended in January.
In recovery it is important to set yourself for success:
COSTUME: do not pull out a costume from two years ago… your body probably changed. Find or make a costume that makes you FEEL GOOD. If you put a costume on and you don’t want to take it off – WEAR IT.
CANDY: Maybe don’t have it in the house this year? If you want to give away candy, hand out what you can and donate the extra. Some people buy candy that isn’t personally tempting: If this works for you, do it! Personally, I enjoy a piece of candy on Halloween, but I do not want bags of candy around house. My solution is that I only buy a small bag of candy and, I don’t buy more than I need. This year my husband and I only bought two bags or Justin’s peanut butter cups. If you know you can handle two pieces of candy have just two pieces. If you know you do not have that control put the candy outside, leave it there and give away the rest.
SUPPORT: Whether going to a party, trick-or-treating with children, or staying home and giving out candy – make sure you have someone that makes you feel safe. Having someone who is non-judgmental and supportive is important. If you do not feel as though you have someone to talk to there’s a wonderful community of eating disorder warriors out there. I am one of your supporters!
Here are some great resources if you need support:
Halloween triggers everyone differently, and it is the start of the holiday season. Be mindful of your emotional state in the coming months. I did not dress up this year: I didn’t have a plan and knowing myself, I didn’t want to “wing it.”
This Halloween I decided to be authentic. No costume or masks can distract me from who I really am. If you decided to dress up as someone else keep your identify, sanity, and have a great time. Halloween is supposed to a fun, deal with the triggers and enjoy the treats.