I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with food. Trust me, I love food from the bottom of my soul, but like most fickle relationships, the mind plays tricks and tells the heart lies. All throughout my formative years, I suffered from an eating disorder. Now I’m 23, and although my battle with Anorexia and Bulimia is a thing of the past — I still feel the remnants to this day.
I look back at the young girl I once was, and wish I could have stopped her.
It started when I was a freshman in high school. I was the girl always scarfing down snacks and taking advantage of my fast metabolism until I became a zombie who craved to look identical to the stick figures in the media. The effort to become skin and bones started out subtle; some would even say that the act of cutting out unhealthy food was actually a good thing. I had slowly brainwashed myself to believe that starving myself was normal, and aspired to achieve impossible expectations. But knowing how eating disorders take their toll, it would only go downhill from there.
Throughout the day I would plan out how I could avoid breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There were weeks where I would restrict myself to just liquids, or portioning sandwiches into a million bite-sized pieces to ration throughout the day. I avoided any social situation that included food: parties, hanging with friends, etc. Even then, I still managed to avoid food in front of people like scooping all the breakfast on my plate and dropping it into the cup of black coffee when no one was looking, or sneaking the food under the table and feeding it to the house pet.
If limiting myself to 500 calories or less for a day wasn’t enough, I made sure to torture my body with strenuous workouts. I tricked myself into thinking this was okay, tricked myself to find comfort in torture. I would purposely layer myself in heavy sweatpants and go out running for hours in the dead summer heat. I laugh at myself now, but it only goes to show how mind crippling eating disorders can be. The look I wanted to achieve was slowly killing me — as the weight dropped drastically, my confidence followed. I signed up for this. Regardless of the many pounds I shed, I still wasn’t satisfied.
My eating disorder was a form of control and I had completely spun out of it.
There were countless mornings where I struggled to stay awake and I would turn in horror at the sight of my hair on the shower floor. Eventually the dramatic weight loss became too noticeable and questionable, and soon the toothbrush and bottle of milk of magnesia became my partners in crime. The act of purging or relieving myself through laxative abuse was the only way I could subdue the guilt of the countless calories. Who knew that the bathroom would become my ‘safe place’.
My eating disorder is a thing of the past, but I’m still constantly feuding with myself. For those who know what I’m talking about or have gone (or are still going) through the same experience, I’m sure you can agree that it’s not easy fix. Being told to eat something or hearing, “You’re not even fat!” will still illicit a knee-jerk reaction. Over time, I’ve realized that the fight with food was only a mere phase, food wasn’t the problem. It wasn’t about, “Am I thin enough?” but rather “Am I good enough?”
Truth is, it doesn’t get better overnight…or in weeks, months, or even after many years. Overcoming this struggle takes time; it’s the process of allowing and accepting. Just be patient with yourself.