I was thinking of putting this in an “about me” page, but typing it all out at once seemed too daunting. In addition to that, I don’t really feel that my fight with an eating disorder should define me, and putting it in an “about me” page would imply just that. I believe my struggles and battles with this illness have shaped me into who I am today, and have presented me with opportunities and situations I would never have experienced otherwise, and so deserve to be mentioned for those interested.
I hope that if you are reading this and you are in the process of recovering from an ED you will know that you are not alone in the struggle, and that there are others who understand and can relate. I hope you will find encouragement in the fact that it is possible to beat this illness, despite how overwhelming it can sometimes seem. And I hope that you will realize that by choosing to fight day by day you are making the best decision you ever have.
It’s always been hard for me to pin-point where this all started. I often stop and try to analyze and figure things out, but all I draw are blanks. Since I was a pre-teen, I remember being surrounded by “fat talk”. I always seemed to have older friends, and I would constatly hear them talking about their weight and how they had a flabby stomach, or needed to lose X no. of kilos. I remember at some point telling them I was “fat” for no other reason then to hear their reassurances that I wasn’t. I don’t remember feeling fat, or having the urge to diet. I exercised often – but only because I loved to move. I absolutely adored dancing, and between that and the sports I participated in , I was a pretty active individual.
Then I turned 14 and everything changed. I hit puberty full force and my body started developing. I was happy about it at first – after all I wanted to look older, and that meant I saw all my womanly curves as something positive. I remember being happy to “upgrade” to a new size of jeans, because I was FINALLY getting an ass 🙂 That was my mentality, and looking back and can’t help but smile about the way I embraced my body and it’s changes.
After a while though, the novelty of it all wore off, and all those years of “fat talk” started to sink it. My metabolism changed and I slowly began to gain weight. I still played sports and danced, but I added in some work outs on the side. The weight gain was hard for me to adjust to, so I figured I would feel more confident if I was a little more toned. After all everyone around me was talking about their new diet/exercise regime – should I be any different?
My older friends didn’t make it any easier. I distinctly remember one of them telling me to start working out, because I was getting fat. Looking back I want to slap her for her stupidity. How could a 25 year old expect and 15 year old to have the same weight she did when she was 12? Unfortunatly my parents weren’t much better. When I asked them if I should lose weight they replied “Just cut back on your snacks and you’ll be fine”. This did little for my already insecure self esteem, and I slowly felt my confidence crashing down around me. I pretended everything was fine, and that nothing had changed, but the truth was that everything had.
I started working out EVERY day. Dieting wasn’t my cup of tea, but I figured that everything could be fixed though exercise. And boy, did I work out. I did a minimum of an hours worth of cardio a day, which grew over time to about 1:30-2 hours. I slowly started skipping breakfast, and trying to skip out on some other meals as well.
At the time I knew a girl (she was 23) who had recovered from anorexia, yet was still very rigid about her exercise program. She had very negative body image, and somewhat bizarre eating habits. She still ate very restrictively, and exercised like her life depended on it. It was no less then two hours every day, without fail. I remember trying to copy her and her mannerisms. She became my role-model for exercise and eating, and I took a lot of the advice she gave me. Although the advice was usually pretty sound, her actions spake worlds louder then her words. And her actions were often somewhat quiestionable. I struggled to distinguish the truth from the eating disordered actions she was portraying, and found myself sucked into the world of crash diets and rigid exercise.
During this time I also battled with depression and self harm. It started around the same time as my issues with my weight. I had recently moved countries and found myself having a hard time adjusting. I tried to be friendly and sociable, but it seemed that no one wanted me in their little “circle”. So , hurt and alone, I withdrew further and further into my own dark little world. I became more and more reclusive, because being around others only emphasized to me how alone I really was. I turned to self-harm as a way of numbing the pain and dealing with all my emotions – the loneliness, the low-self esteem, the feeling of worthlessness and pain.
Then there was a guy who appeared in my life. He was there for me when I needed him most, and for that I will be always thankful. I grew very close to him, possibly because he was the only person that noticed me and what I was going through. He made me feel wanted, special – even loved. Unfortunately all good things come to an end, and a series of unpleasent events caused us to be seperated. We were forced to cut all contact, but the next time I saw him it was with another one of my aquaintances – a tall, pretty, thin blond one.
At that point it dawned on me – if only I was thinner everything would be better. I would be liked, wanted, special. I would be happy. Although this was the biggest lie I could have every told myself at that moment I wanted to believe it. I wanted to believe that my life could be turned around, that I could do something to “fix” all this. Maybe what I really wanted was not to feel anymore – not to have to feel lonely, unwanted, forgotten, and worthless. So I decided to try it.
(I’m sorry this isn’t a very positive post, and it’s hard to write about this. But I feel exposing the beginning of my eating disorder and it’s lies may help me from relapsing in the future. If I am able to realize the frame of mind I was in at the time this all started, it can help me to stay more on guard and catch myself if I ever find myself slipping down the same road. )