I don’t think eating disorders are taken as seriously as it should. I know I’ve said that dozens of times, but it still irks me. It’s hardly even considered a mental illness. When I hear people talk about it, I get the impression that a sizable amount of them believe it’s just all about vanity but it’s so much deeper than that.
Maybe, at least in my case, it begins with vanity. But it quickly twists into a dangerous obsession.
Despite believing that awareness for anything should be a daily thing, in honor of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, here’s my story in it’s raw form.
Mind you. I’m so heavily medicated all the time that my memory has grown fuzzy and I have to recall all the way back to 2007, when this whole thing started.
It was before I turned fourteen and right after I was promoted from middle school to high school. I never really took notice of my size in elementary school, but once it was pointed out in 8th grade I couldn’t forget about it. I’d constantly compare myself to all the other girls in my grade and wonder why I was shaped so differently… so… disproportionately.
And so that summer, I made it a personal goal to exercise and lose weight. I didn’t want to feel so terrible about my body entering high school. I truly believed that if I lost the excess weight that I carried, I would make more friends or maybe even get some guy to actually like me. I’m ashamed to admit that but it made sense back then.
When that didn’t quite happen, I thought that it was because I didn’t lose enough.
I began keeping a food diary. I heard that it helps to know how much you’ve been eating… The number of calories dropped dramatically until it was non existent. The pages were filled with dates but the entries would be blank. Sometimes there would be a granola bar or apple snuck in there, but that was mostly it.
Because I wasn’t sick.
I felt good.
Is this what my life’s going to be like? Am I going to obsess about number all the time? It’s so tiring. I’m so sick of worrying about how many calories I’m taking in, how many calories I’m losing, what size I am, how much I weigh… Society puts so much emphasis on numbers that I feel like I should too. In the process, I’m letting it define who I am.
– 28 February 2013
For a time, I shook the eating disorder away… at least for the most part.
But university felt too overwhelming and I crept back to it because it was a familiar kind of chaos… and I liked that… even the depression that coupled it. It was painful, but like I said, it was a familiar kind of pain. It was the kind of pain I knew I couldn’t keep to myself but at the same time couldn’t say out loud. I silently cried for help but it was in vain… because, well, it was silent.
I’m not sure what was worse: being depressed and anorexic, or being manic and bulimic. The latter came about in the end of 2012 and continued throughout 2013, though by the beginning of the year it evolved – devolved? – back into anorexia. The lack of food only fed my growing insanity.
I spent a majority of my sophomore year bouncing back and forth between sobbing in my closet and spending money on useless things… between eating three meals in one sitting to nothing at all.
Why do I feel my own insanity? …because it’s fun. It’s interesting. Messing up my life is addicting. It’s the only thing I know how to do, obviously. Apparently that’s all I can do. I keep pushing myself to the brink because it’s fun. Isn’t it so fun? To lose your mind?
– 17 April 2013
I fed my obsession for numbers. Less was more. Zero was my favorite number… save for when it was associated with class, though by then I had missed so much class and assignments I was sure that was my grade anyway.
In the back of my mind I knew I was heading down a dangerous path that I knew all too well, but at that time the eating disorder got the best of me. The “did you gain weight?” and “your arms are flabby” comments plagued my brain and I didn’t have the strength to fight them back. Eventually I gave up and lost all sense of self. I let the eating disorder define me, and that was the worst thing I could have done at that same moment I was on a downward spiral to complete madness.
And maybe that’s how I ended up wandering around SFO sobbing about wanting to go home. I eventually bought a ticket, which cost me roughly $300. I had about five hours to kill before my flight and I called the first psychiatric hospital I could find on google. I begged them to help me because I had no idea what to do anymore. A few days later they admitted me into the partial hospitalization program focusing on eating disorders.
It was a tough yet rewarding experience. I had to dig into my past and feel everything that I’ve spent my entire life trying to forget. But I learned more about myself through that. I realized my own self-sabotaging nature, my perfectionism, and my unrelenting standards for myself. I realized just how much I had abused my own body.
I never finished the program. My mania got the best of me and I was soon fully hospitalized and diagnosed with bipolar disorder…
I’m currently in the recovery process… and I probably always will be. Although I haven’t fully acted on my impulses, I still have disordered thoughts every single day. I hardly ever mention it outside this blog, but I fight every hour of every day because I just have to.
Has it been a happy new year so far? Not really to be honest. I’ve been struggling a lot with my eating disorder. I think the last time I purged was last week but I know I’ve been restricting a lot [since then]… I mean it just feels like I’ll gain weight every time I eat something, no matter how little it is… I need help… I really do.
– 8 January 2014
I admit that it does get tiring and sometimes I’ll reach a point where I want nothing more than to just give up. But then I think about everything that I’ve been through… the progress that I worked so hard for, and I find the will to keep fighting.
Eating disorders are life long because it’s a lifetime commitment to continue the healing process. And despite what anyone thinks, I never consciously chose to take this path. My decision was to accept it and do my best to keep pushing through.
Nobody can go back and start a new beginning but anyone can start today and make a new ending.