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Self Perception

I follow a ton of self love accounts on Instagram. A few of them recount eating disorders and how people overcome them and eventually learn to love the body they have. There was this story about a woman who had bulimia? I think was the one. I know very little about eating disorders, aside from what I learned in middle school health class. But, the alarming thing is that I now realize I have a lot in common with what she was describing. And that brought up a giant red flag for me. Now, I know I’m not a hypochondriac but could I have an eating disorder? Or at least the makings of one? It’s a question I never stopped to think about. I’ve always had a little extra fluff on certain parts of my body. I’ve never in my life been skinny or malnourished looking, so I just thought that I could ever have an eating disorder.

Looking at my relationship with food and body image I am sure that if I don’t check myself now, it will get worse.

I guess it started back in 2013, I went through this major depressive episode that lasted a couple of months. I wouldn’t leave my room, I wouldn’t get out of bed except for water and maybe an apple or banana. I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror because I thought I was just a pile of fat. So, I stopped eating, Not completely, I would have maybe one meal a day just so my family wouldn’t suspect anything. I couldn’t will myself to workout because I thought I was too fat to even try. I thought that people would make fun of the fat girl working out. I would just stuff myself with water and green tea and coffee. Because water would make me feel full and it had 0 calories. It got so bad that I would go to school skip class and cry in my car in the parking lot. I thought I didn’t deserve my friends and that my family deserved a smarter prettier daughter, sister. It got really dark and I knew it was getting bad but I didn’t want to disappoint my family by telling them how weak I was, mentally. I called a suicide hot line I had seen on campus. I ended up talking to this random stranger for two hours. The person I talked to would call back once a week for the next two months, just to check in. For the sake of privacy if they had to leave a voicemail they would say they were from a library, calling about a book to be returned. It really is a shame but I don’t remember the name of the gentlemen who had helped me those months, and even if I did, I don’t think that hotline used real names anyway.

Flash forward to 2014, I began working out. Like crazy, everyday for at least an hour. I would still try and restrict myself on what I ate but I ate. and that was an improvement. I was still unhappy with what I saw in the mirror.

Towards 2015, I became almost manic in my weight loss journey. Eating only yogurts, fruit, spinach, almonds and turkey. Which is way better than my eating habits in 2013 but still not a healthy lifestyle. It wasn’t enough to provide me with energy or nutrients throughout the day. I would workout every day sometimes twice a day. I would run so often that I developed pretty serious shin splints that hindered my walking. But it was working, starting in 2013 I was 167 lbs., and by early 2015, I was around 150 lbs., which may not seem like a lot but for someone who was constantly riding the anxiety/depression rollercoaster…it was big.

Come 2016 I was considerably happier in life. So I ate, and then I began to purge. It didn’t start out every day. I would only throw up maybe twice a month. Which, in my head didn’t constitute an eating disorder. But it got progressively worse, to where I was throwing up every meal I would eat. Every day.It almost started to feel like I had to do it. Like that one meal I ate was going to immediately show up on my belly or my flabby arms. I would try and hold my food down but just end up feeling sad, anxious and a bit nauseated. Even when I didn’t want to throw up I would feel the phantom urge to. I knew I needed to stop but it’s easier said than done. It’s like an itch in the back of your brain and the only way to relive it is to, cave in. I struggled with this continuously throughout the year.

Then there was the fad diets throughout the year. I went on a three day juice cleanse where I didn’t eat at all, I just drank organic pressed juices. Then I went on an all liquid diet where I pretty much lived off of soup. I slightly reverted back to my 2013 eating-the-bare-minimum, diet. Again, I know none of this is okay or healthy.

Come the end of 2016 and the start of 2017, I began, binging again, restricting my food intake and working out like crazy. I lost a lot of weight in a fast and unhealthy way. Friends started to notice. I was down to 139 lbs. which is still 4 lbs. heavier than my goal weight. But I’m more aware now that there are healthier ways to go about getting there.

Last week I had a girls day with one of my best friends. I began to tell her about my unhealthy relationship with food, because even though I was eating a salad, I had also eaten a cookie ( which I hadn’t had in a couple of moths.) Then I had coffee with sweetener and milk. Which doesn’t sound like much but I felt like I had just indulged myself in a seven course McDonalds meal. And knowing that I had worked out every day that week, I hadn’t worked out that morning and I just felt like a slob. I knew that I shouldn’t have felt that gross, but I did. I knew I needed help and I just needed to tell somebody. Before I could even get out the words she began talking.

“So I wanna talk about your eating habits.” She said seriously.

I sat silent, my face showed no emotion. Because I wasn’t quite sure what to feel. I was surprised that she knew, I was angry that she knew, I was happy that she noticed. I was a mash up of conflicting emotions so I just nodded and sat there. She must have figured out what was going on in my head because she reassured me that she wasn’t trying to scold me and that she wasn’t mad or disappointed. She was just curious and worried. She said that she brushed it off at first but that my actions and sometimes my words would worry her. She sat there and gave the best a friend could give, understanding, patience and an ear to listen. After our talk, I felt better. I’m still not 100% better. In fact we were supposed to go shopping after but I couldn’t help but feel like trash in everything I put on. So we went thrifting and just tried on the most outrageous outfits we could find. I laughed a lot, more than I had in a long time.

I don’t know why I’m putting any of this out there. Because I am not better yet. But I am working on it. I am aware of it. And I have friends that help me. That being said, I know exactly why I am putting this out. Because I have never told this story to a single person. Not even the private pages of my journal.

It’s out now. And I feel lighter.

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