As I eluded to in my first post, I have had experiences with eating disorders.
After a bit of deliberation on the subject, I’ve decided to post my story. This was not an easy decision, as it is difficult being so candid and vulnerable online. However, I remember that during my recovery, I found it helpful to read about other people’s journeys with EDs. Not only did it show me that I was not alone in the situation, it was also useful in the sense that I was able to see that recovery was possible, and how people went about their recovery and what worked for them.
It’s a bit of a long story, so I’m breaking it into a series.
And in this story I will be mentioning some numbers, so please be aware that this information has the potential to be triggering for some. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
As far back as I can remember, I don’t ever recall having a good relationship with food. When I was a baby and a toddler, I’m sure it was fine; but even when I was a kid I didn’t think about or approach food the way I should.
When I was young, I was a horribly picky eater. Mealtimes were a little bit of a battle between my family and I. I didn’t like milk, except on cereal. I didn’t like beef (so no meatloaf or burgers) I didn’t like tomatoes (so no pizza, spaghetti, lasagna, etc.), the list goes on. Basically, I was very limited in what I would eat. That started me on the mindset of always being in a battle with my food.
I was definitely an active kid. I did Highland dancing for about 10 years. I did pretty much everything at one point or another – dancing, baseball, soccer, figure skating, gymnastics, ect. I was never a really chubby kid, but I was tall for my age and had a sturdier frame, something I started taking notice of in my later years of elementary school. Around that time I started having issues with binge eating. I hated eating packed sandwiches at school, so I would always throw them out and just eat the sides. By the time I got home, I would be absolutely starving, and I would raid the kitchen when I got home. I’d run to the kitchen, eat a granola bar or two, bagels, toast….whatever I could get my hands on. This set me up for some poor habits later on.
In high school, I continued with my habits of not eating properly during the day. I’d usually have Eggos, Poptarts or Toaster’s Strudels for breakfast (if I ate it at all) skip lunch, and attack the kitchen when I’d get home. I continued in this starve-then-binge cycle all throughout high school. I wasn’t as active as I had been as a kid (I played field hockey in the fall and took the occasional gym class, but was otherwise extremely sedentary) so the weight gain became noticeable, especially to me. Although I was never officially overweight, I was less than 5 pounds away according to BMI standards. I became incredibly uncomfortable in my own skin.
I’d always try to lose weight, but any attempts at it (basically, starving myself even more than I had been previously) would last a few days, and then end in a massive, disastrous binge. I would end up being dejected and giving up, only to try again a week later.
When high school ended, I had started a new relationship with an older guy and wasn’t home very often – therefore, losing my ability to binge so often. Because of this, I did end up dropping a few pounds over the summer – about 10 overall. So when I started university, I still wasn’t thrilled with my body but was in a better place than I was before. I decided to join the campus gym, and starting attending and hitting the elliptical about 4 days per week.
I went to school about an hour away from my hometown. I’m naturally shy and withdrawn – making friends has never been particularly easy for me. I felt compelled to go home every weekend, out of sheer loneliness and wanting to see my boyfriend.
As time and the relationship continued, the power dynamic started to change. He began to become controlling, manipulative and angry. Essentially – I felt like I had no control over my life and what was happening in it. I began to watch what I said and did at all times – restricting who I talked to, what I did, and where I went. I spent so many nights crying in the bathroom in my residence, having absolutely no idea what I could do about it. I never felt good enough to please him, and my already-fairly-low self esteem began to crash.
I remembered the feeling I got when I had lost weight over the summer – the sense of power and sheer joy. Because I had been going to the campus gym regularly, I had lost a few more pounds. I decided I wanted to put more focus into that – I wasn’t living the life I wanted, but I figured I could at least try for the body I had always hoped for.
I started going to the gym for a longer amount of time, and more often. I was making sure to document every morsel that went into my mouth. I would follow the same pattern with my meals every day – skip breakfast, same lunch, same dinner, same snack, washed down with a ridiculous amount of diet coke (the fact that I can even still look at the stuff today is amazing). I started to research food and nutrition in my spare time, devising lists of what was acceptable and what was not. Anything high in sugar? Gone. High in fat? Not on the self-imposed meal plan anymore.
By the time I finished first year, I was about 25 pounds down from where I was the year before, and I was thrilled about it. I had finally worked up the nerve to end my relationship – and did so without looking back. I decided to transfer universities so I could remain in my hometown with my family and friends. Everything seemed to be falling into place.
But, once I was back on my old grounds, my old habits kicked in. My house was full of foods I hadn’t touched all year – so as soon as I way was in arms lengths, I began to binge again – worse than before. Eating cream cheese out of the container with a fork – that sort of thing. Of course, I was horrified to see that the weight was starting to creep back on.
I became absolutely terrified that all the work I put in was going to go to waste. I was in a much better place now – why was this happening to me? I decided that this absolutely COULD NOT happen again. I headed down to my local bookstore and walked straight into the diet section….
Look for Part 2 tomorrow afternoon!