Trigger warning– I am about to share a a very personal battle that I have been secretly facing.
Before I dive in, I just want to say that I am not starting this blog and sharing my story for sympathy or anything of the sort. I am sharing in hopes to give insight to outsiders as well as show others who may be facing the same thing or something similar that they’re not alone and that there are people who understand. Plus, I enjoy writing!
Okay, here we go..
So, for the past two years I have been struggling with an eating disorder. It began towards the end of my sophomore year in college. Growing up, I had always had self-confidence issues, but I never took drastic measures.
When my eating disorder began, I had just finished playing basketball for the last time and I knew that I had to start working out and staying fit on my own. What I didn’t know was how much weight I had actually gained while playing college basketball. I had gained 25 pounds since high school!! When I looked in the mirror it seemed to me like I had gained 50! I immediately felt a surge of disappointment and regret for “letting myself go”. I was so ashamed, and with summer break approaching quickly there was no way I could let my summer body look so awful. So that is when it all began.
It started out as just skipping some meals and limiting my food intake. In the beginning, I only let myself eat 2 (maybe 3) small granola bars a day. Some days I would only eat a banana. Other days I wouldn’t eat at all.
I didn’t feel as if I was losing weight fast enough, and that is when the purging began.. I allowed myself to keep down healthy meals or small meals most of the time. But there were days I would have a big, unhealthy meal with friends that would leave me feeling disgusted and ashamed… so once I got home I would make a beeline for the bathroom and force myself to throw up because the amount of guilt that I felt from eating so much and so badly was unbearable.
In combination with the purging and limiting my food intake, I would run at least 2 miles every day and do a 30 min. ab workout after my run. If I REALLY hated my body that day, I would do more running and more abs.
I lost 20 pounds within the first month.
My boyfriend and I started dating after the 20 pounds were gone. It was easy to hide my habits from him at the beginning.. And I loved hearing how “good” my body looked and how beautiful I was to him. It made me crave more and made me want to continue to lose more.
So that is exactly what I did.
I lost more weight and then lost more..
After several months of hiding it, I got caught… my poor boyfriend walked in on me in the bathroom while I was in the act of throwing up after a meal. He was so shocked and hurt and upset and begged me to stop or to get some help. So I told him I would stop.
But I couldn’t. I didn’t want to.. I didn’t care how unhealthy it was, or how destructive it was to my body. So I just learned to hide it better.
In January of 2018 my parents found out.
My boyfriend had to take me to the ER after I had gotten really weak and fainted at his house due to lack of eating and dehydration.
Let me tell ya, it’s a sinking feeling seeing your parents standing over you, fighting back tears while you lay there hooked up to monitors and IVs. They were so worried and urged me to stop and to get help. I couldn’t bare to see them in such distress, so.. I complied and agreed to go see someone.
I went to counseling only a few times. Just enough times to satisfy my parents to where they didn’t have to take me and they believed that I was going on my own. But I didn’t. I really didn’t feel like it was helping (kinda hypocritical considering I’m going to school to be a counselor). I just didn’t think anyone could understand EXACTLY what I was feeling or battling. How could they if they’d never dealt with it?
It had become an obsession. Like an addiction. Well.. it IS an addiction, and it became just another part of my daily “routine”. Not having easy access to a scale or a mirror to constantly monitor my weight and to see how flat or fat my stomach looks, sends my mind into panic mode and my anxiety takes over.
Eating disorders aren’t pretty. They are destructive. They are manipulative. They are hell. They have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Eating disorders aren’t simply just skipping a few meals and dropping 20 pounds in a month. They aren’t something you order on the side while you enjoy the rest of your life. Eating disorders become your life. They infect every single aspect of your existence in ways you never really notice until it’s happening. Eating disorders are not gender specific, race specific, or size specific. An eating disorder is silently hating yourself while watching others indulge in foods you used to love. It’s somehow ending up on a dieting website, scrolling through its pages at 2am. It’s just passing the time until you’re “allowed” to eat again every single day. It’s hating hearing the phrases “you’re so skinny” or “you’re tiny” because you don’t believe them, and it makes you feel guilty. It’s crying in the shower because your hair is falling out in clumps. It’s coming to the conclusion that you have to lose 3 pounds whenever a problem arises. It’s delaying plans with people you haven’t seen in a while because you haven’t lost enough weight since the last time you saw them. It’s numbers numbers numbers, swimming through your mind 24/7, they’re your first thought in the morning and last before you fall asleep. It’s hating yourself because you had a night of eating tons of junk food and woke up feeling bloated and ashamed. It’s the difference between a good day and a horrible day being a few calories. It’s a bathroom that smells like vomit, a loss of purpose, and dignity. It’s emptiness, crippling self hate, and shame. It’s not glamorous or tragically beautiful, it’s a demon that creates a home in your head.
Like I said before, I am NOT sharing my story for sympathy or reassurance from others. I am sharing in hopes that others who may be dealing with an eating disorder or another physical and/or mental illness will see that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There ARE people who understand how you’re feeling and what you are going through.
2019 has begun, and YES, I still struggle. I am currently at my lowest weight I have ever been. Some days are better than others. Some weeks are better than others. But I am hopeful. Hopeful that this new year will bring new growth and more progress. There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.