Life Post Eating Disorder
It isn’t something everyone knows about me, and it can be an uncomfortable subject. But lately, more and more people are being outspoken about their struggles, both current and past, with eating disorders. Like most, my philosophy is if my story can help one person, why not share? I’d never judge someone else that opened up about theirs, so I’d like to think most other people wouldn’t either.
They’re not kidding when they tell you being a teenager is confusing and frustrating. I can remember how much hurt and negativity was in my heart throughout a lot of my teen years, for a multitude of different reasons. One of the results of this was an immense weight gain, and that didn’t improve my mental state to say the least. I’d always been an average sized kid, but through a combination of stress eating, not having my eating supervised, and being really uneducated on what being healthy meant, I gained an incredibly unhealthy amount of weight in less than a year.
I lived with it for a little while, and then became angry, frustrated and truly unhappy with myself. The way I was eating was making my skin break out, it was making my hair go dull, and my self confidence was non existent. I knew I wanted to make a change. Diet and exercising was my first go to, I saw some reward but it was slow progress, the allure of all the junk I used to eat was also too strong when I tried starving myself. I wanted to find a way that I wouldn’t have to work out, still eat all the bad stuff, but lose all the weight. (If anyone is trying to sell you a magic solution, please believe it’s a lie.) Living on an apple in the morning, iceberg lettuce with lemon for lunch, and most of the time skipping dinner quickly became an unrealistic thing to sustain.
I tried everything from energy boosters, to laxative diets, to weight loss pills. Thinking back I can’t believe I put some of those things in my body, knowing they weren’t medically approved, not knowing what they contained, and paying the little money I was making back when minimum wage wouldn’t even buy you bread and milk. The expense eventually became too great. Bulimia was free.
Let me just say; struggling with an eating disorder isn’t something to be ashamed of. The part of you that makes you want to hide it from the world is the part of you that knows it’s not the answer. We’re given one body and the harm you do it in its early years carries through to your whole life.
For the years that I continued to binge and purge, I lost an extreme amount of weight very quickly. It soon became addictive to lose weight, and I didn’t realize it at the time but I was just as unhappy as I was when I was heavier, but in a different way. It became an obsession and anytime I would eat a normal meal, and feel full, I’d feel disgusted with myself. I wish I had images of the two extremes, but the few pictures I do have from that time in my life I’ve since deleted when I didn’t want to remember my low points. But now, I’m happy to share my low points to let people know things can and do get better.
Some people find support through friends, family, or therapy. It took me a long time to overcome my disorder because I couldn’t bring myself to confide in anyone and I struggled alone. I didn’t realize how common it was and is, and I didn’t think I could tell anyone. It took me years to fully convince myself what I was doing was unhealthy, even though on some level I always knew.
Like with anything, the person struggling has to truly want to make a change. If you yourself are dealing with something of a similar nature I’d ask you to turn to your friends and family who can help you, or reach out to an eating disorder hotline/crisis hotline, where people are always there to help. If you know someone struggling, it’s truly best to not go at them with an accusatory manor, but instead approach the situation with care and concern. When the person is ready to talk they will, but everyone deals with these things so differently.
What I wish I’d known back then, is how much better I’d feel after making healthy changes in my life. Your energy will increase, you’ll see changes in your hair, your skin, even your mental outlook and attitude. My weight had bounced up and down for a while but it seems like over the last few years I’m starting to find my balanced weight and I’m learning what my body wants and needs. I’ve found workouts that I truly enjoy, and the routine of waking up and working out starts the day off with an accomplished happy feeling. As far as eating, I’ve learned balance is key. If I’m eating healthy meals 5 days a week and want a plate of mozzarella sticks on the weekend, that’s what works for me. I still struggle with counting calories, and I do feel myself obsessing sometimes. I guess there’s always more improvement to be made, but the climb I’ve made thus far makes me so happy and proud, and I truly do believe that if I can do it anyone can. The photo attached to this post is me this month, and the smile in the pic is real.