Anxiety, eating, attention, etc

I have been sick with a rough cold for about a week now. I absolutely hate being sick. I also have a lot of illness related anxiety, fearing that I will feel nauseous, etc. I have also being dealing with anxiety that presents itself as nausea for a few months, though it has improved a lot with therapy. That’s kind of a side note.

That being said my cold has been turning into a bad cough, which has actually caused me to throw up twice in 24 hours. The thing is now I am a little bit afraid to eat, because I don’t want to throw up, or have other digestive issues. So I haven’t eaten since last night, just been drinking Gatorade, which I am telling myself is at least something. But now that I’m not eating, I feel proud of myself, which feels a little messed up. When I went to the Dr. A couple of days ago I was pleased to have lost some weight since getting sick last week, which made me feel good about myself. Now I am almost wanting to take advantage of being a little nervous to eat as a means of helping me lose more weight.

I guess I’m trying to sort out what is anxiety about throwing up/being sick, and what part is eating disorder. I also weirdly feel like I want to not eat all day so that I can tell my therapist tonight when I talk to him that I didn’t eat, as if that will make him proud. Or maybe that it will convince me or him, idk, that I am worthy of getting therapy, that I’m not just someone who can’t handle basic things that everyone else can handle, but I have legit issues to work on? Maybe I just want attention and I think major things have to be going on to get attention?

Idk, this all feels so messed up when I write about it. Lol. Any thoughts or advice?


Hi there @Soph,

I’m so sorry to hear that you’re struggling with a bad cold and are having trouble with anxiety! That sounds so rough and I can’t imagine everything that you are going through, but I’m really glad that you are sharing here.

This may be a good discussion to have with your therapist, but the short answer is that it may not really matter. Regardless of the cause, it’s super important to be eating, for both your physical and mental well-being, so I hope that you try eating a healthy amount.

I want to focus on this part of the post for a moment. You are not alone in this, and I also struggle with accepting that I am worthy of support when I am not doing “poorly enough”. You are worthy of support, regardless of what you may or may not be going through. You are worthy of support regardless of if you want to eat or aren’t eating. You are worthy of support regardless of if you are happy or sad. You are always worthy of support.

While I’ve also fallen into the trap of trying to prove that I’m worthy of support to myself by exacerbating the “physical symptoms” (e.g., not eating), please know that you really don’t need to be doing particularly poorly to get support. You always deserve it – no strings attached.

Please remember that you are important and deserve that attention regardless of anything else going on in your life. The point of support and therapy is to make you happier and healthier, so please try to eat. Not eating doesn’t make you any more worthy of therapy/support, but it isn’t healthy for you. If you need to start with small bites to avoid feeling nauseous or anything like that, please do what you need to, but remember that prioritizing your physical well-being (by eating) will also help the mental side of things.

Thank you again for reaching out here. If you’d like, we’d love to hear if there are any updates (or how your appointment with the therapist went). You are loved, valued, and worthy of support. I’m wishing you all the best and hope you feel better soon!

<3 Tuna

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There’s absolutely no question about it, you really do have legit issues to work on.

BTW, are you Covid negative? It can feel like a rough cold, or you may have a cold and Covid. Typically, a cold starts in the sinuses, then works it’s way into the lungs before it subsides. In my case, it’s 3-4 days of sinus issues, then a week or more with congestion and cough.

After going for a while without eating, appetite does diminish. Gatorade without food for a day is very likely to result in a queasy stomach. An episode of illness can be used as a starting point for weight loss, but it’s a very bad idea to count on it for sustained weight loss. For one thing, that kind of loss is associated with loss of energy, which results in burning fewer calories, and establishes a pattern of reduced activity. Then when resuming a more normal intake, the reduced activity will cause more calories to go into storage.

My advice is to gently ease back into eating regular meals again. They can be small meals, as long as they’re reasonably balanced. A multivitamin with a meal is helpful too. Muscle takes up a lot less space than fat. Muscle also burns calories and absorbs excess insulin. Therefore, keeping a toned body will make it easier to manage weight. It also helps clothes fit better. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but a person’s body will feel more satisfied for longer periods when smaller meals are consumed. It’s because large meals stretch the stomach, and significant hunger occurs as the stomach is returning to it’s regular size. One of the ways I’ve maintained my weight is by not eating large meals, not even for special occasions. BTW, I went from 240 to 140 fifteen years ago, and not gained any back. I made very small adjustments to my intake until I was losing two or three pounds a month. Then when I decided I looked okay in the mirror, I made minor adjustments in my intake until I was no longer losing. According to the charts, I should be eating twice as much as I do, but clearly the charts are wrong because I’ve been feeling pretty good for all these years.

I think our DNA tells our bodies to conserve energy, and it reinforces this by making us feel tired or lazy. I think it works the same way as it does for lions. The more they lay around, the less they have to hunt. That same DNA programming wants the body to save every calorie it can. At one time, this worked well for our metabolism that remains calibrated for a hunter/gatherer lifestyle. I think that’s why a lot of people gain weight easily.

I think your therapist would be concerned about you having lost weight through illness. The proud part will come in after you’ve kept it off for a while.

Wanting attention is a major thing. It’s a basic human need, and if you feel as though you’re not getting enough, that’s something to work on. It’s okay to want to make him proud, but remember, the most important thing is the progress you’re making. I think the thing that would make him most proud is your trust in him.

Stay in touch! Wings

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An update is that later yesterday my therapist emailed me and said he had to cancel, and moved our appointment to tonight instead. Then I spiraled out because it felt like a huge deal to me and I felt so rejected and hurt, and like I was counting on that appointment to get me through the day. So I cut myself to cope because I just couldn’t handle it. Then I decided to eat a little bit because I was like, there is no way I can make it until tomorrow night without eating. And by the time I ate it had been over 24 hours since I had eaten. Today I still feel sick but a tiny bit better, and I am looking forward to talking to my therapist tonight, but I am also a little bit nervous of all the things I have to talk about tonight now. It feels very vulnerable to admit how much it devastated me that he had to cancel… I know I am posting it on here, but it’s anonymous which feels so much less scary… thanks so much for your support.

@Wings thanks for your support. They did a pcr COVID test at the Dr. and it was negative, and I had already taken 2 antigen tests that came back negative. Also the people I got sick from all tested negative. Whatever it is it feels like a pretty rough virus, but that being said I also have been pretty lucky to be healthy in the last few years and not have many colds, so maybe I am just forgetting how bad they are usually.

I did end up eating something small. Yeah, thanks for the tips. I think small amounts of food fairly frequently would be a good idea, because I am really uncomfortable with how my stomach feels when I eat larger amounts and it has to stretch, it makes me anxious. It also feels like it is just kind of a complicated situation, because I have what my own mind tells me, and then I also remember what I’ve been told by the dietitian and therapists when I was in a partial hospitalization program for my eating disorder last summer. It’s just so many conflicting messages and it’s challenging to decide which to follow. Thank you for your time and support.

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Hi there @Soph,

Thanks for the update! I’m sorry to hear that things haven’t been feeling too great about the appointment being rescheduled (it sounds like you’ve already come to terms with this, but please know that I’m sure it isn’t personal and that it just came down to scheduling).

I’m glad that you ate a bit – that’s massive and it’s good to hear that you’ll be able to talk to the therapist tonight. I also sincerely appreciate your vulnerability here and know how much harder it is to talk about these things when it isn’t anonymous. With that said, I have faith in you; I know that you have the strength to bring these things up with your therapist.

For me, when discussing topics that I’m not too comfortable with, sometimes I find that having notes or a “script” to follow may help. You may want to do this too?

Thank you again for the update. I’m wishing you all the best and hope that your therapy tonight goes well. If you have any further updates or ever want to post, know that we’re here for you and I’d love to hear what you have to say (regardless of if you’re doing poorly or feeling great).

<3 Tuna

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@eagertuna0 Thanks so much for your comment and support. That’s a good idea about having a script about what to say to my therapist. I will do that. Thanks for your help.


So update is that I got online to my therapy appointment tonight, and 6 minutes in my therapist says, sorry, just a minute, my wife is calling, I have to take this: he comes back a few minutes later holding his toddler and says, sorry, he didn’t fall asleep and we can’t do our appointment. I really sorry. When do you want to meet next? This is kind of what went through my mind, and what I wrote, it doesn’t all make sense but here it is. thanks for reading this mess.

It’s totally ok!
No problem at all!
It really doesn’t matter.
Honestly, I don’t care!
Really, it makes no difference to me.
Seriously, it’s totally ok!
No worries!
Sorry? Don’t be!!
It’s OK!!

On the outside, I just heard GREAT NEWS
It seriously does not matter AT ALL- in fact: it’s great! I’m glad to have a night off!!
You canceled two days in a row, but really, it does not matter at all! No worries whatsoever. I was hoping this would happen!!

Smiling, reassuring, it’s all good!

I never want to talk to you again. When do we want to reschedule? Actually never. I don’t need you and I never want to ever speak to you again. Fuck you. Please leave me alone, I don’t want you and I surely don’t need you.


All the feelings are bubbling up… now they are boiling over. I can’t let him know how i actually feel. I can’t let anyone know how I actually feel. I must save face. And actually if I did tell them how I felt, then chances are they would hate me and reject me, and then I would be seen as weak, and hated. I must cut. I cannot cry. How embarrassing that is, that i am just some throw away person, and I RELY on him. And when he doesn’t come through I am absolutely devastated. I thought, surely I can count on today actually turning out- what are the chances that my therapist had to cancel yesterday and he also has to cancel today, yeah, I can hope and trust that it will work out today. Jokes on you! No- you can’t.

I must feel pain, I need to cut, i cannot deal with this feeling, it is too hard. I cannot cry because then i feel weak like I actually really cared about this appointment and like I was relying on it, and i can’t let that happen, so I cut. I cut my thigh, where I normally do. That’s not satisfying enough, not painful enough. And its not dangerous. Man it would feel kind of good to try my arm/wrist. Do I want to do that? Then people might see… But i feel brazen and at this point I don’t care too much, I think I could hide it. Also gliding the knife over my neck, what would that feel like? Almost fantasizing. Then i cut my arm gently. I’m careful not to go deep though at all. In fact, it doesn’t really bleed, just shows red like a decent cat scratch. but I stop because i feel sort of satisfied, enough that I guess i can move on. I also don’t really want to leave a scar. But now as I am writing this I feel stupid that I’m a baby that I can’t go deeper. Or maybe it’s a fine line of trying to play through the consequences in my head. idk.

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Aw, I’m so sorry to hear that @Soph. That sounds so challenging, particularly given that it happened two nights in a row and really is an unfortunate situation.

With that said, please remember that you can take care of yourself too, in the meantime. While it’s good that you (normally) have the resource of your therapist (and I’m so glad that you do have that resource), you still are a capable and strong individual, who can push through these things.

There is some truth and some falsehood to this. People will always love, value, and care for who you truly are. Please do not try faking that you are someone else for the good of others. With that said, there are some situations when it is kind to be polite, even if that isn’t fully “true” to yourself and I’m proud of you for being able to manage what must have been a challenging emotional situation with your therapist today, while still being kind to your therapist.

You can cry, and I sincerely hope that you do give yourself some time to cry. You’ve been experiencing a truly challenging situation, for anyone to go through, and crying is a perfectly valid response to that. Give yourself the respect and care for yourself as you would for anyone else; please cry if you want to. I cry all the time when I’m hurting, and it doesn’t make me feel weak, because I know that crying is being healthy – crying is handling emotions in a way that doesn’t harm myself (emotionally or physically).

Feeling that hesitation to go deeper is actually a good thing. That’s your body telling you to be gentle – to stay safe. I know that it may feel unfulfilling at the moment but going deeper will not make your self-harm any more fulfilling, and it will simply take longer to heal and be more painful, which nobody wants for you.

You deserve to have happiness in your life. You deserve to be safe. You deserve to be cared for.

I’m sorry that your therapist wasn’t able to fulfill those roles over the last two days; that sincerely sounds so painful, and I really wish that didn’t happen to you, With that said, self-harming is likely to exacerbate these negative emotions and could make it harder to feel better. This isn’t to say that I don’t understand self-harm; I’ve engaged in it too. This isn’t to say that you can’t recover from self-harming, or that there is anything shameful about engaging in it. Of course, you can and will recover. But I really want to encourage you not to risk injuring yourself worse than you need to – trust me when I say that it stinks to have a self-harm injury that continues hurting for a prolonged period of time.

If I’m correct, then it’s night for you, so if you are still awake, please try to rest and recover as much as you can (or if you see this when you wake up, I hope you slept well). Go easy on yourself and take your time in working out these emotions. If you want to write more on this HeartSupport post, we’re here to listen and truly do care about you.

I hope you feel better soon and am wishing you all the best. I have faith in you.

<3 Tuna

PS: I see some mentions in your post that suggest suicidality or injuring yourself to a greater extent than usual self-harm. If this is the case and you believe that you may attempt suicide or injure yourself to an extent that worries you, remember that hotlines are available to you (Crisis Resources | HeartSupport). Regardless of if you use crisis resources or not, know that I’m still here for you and am thinking of you. Feel free to continue sending updates if you have anything more on your mind that would be good to get down into text.


@eagertuna0 thank you so so much for your kind and thoughtful response. It feels so good to be fully seen and heard and still treated with kind compassion and respect, I cannot thank you enough. I really appreciate your detailed response. Yeah, I think I need to sleep and get some rest, thanks for your support, Tuna.



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