Eating Disorders

Hi everyone. This week will feature 3 guest posts talking about the issue of Bulimia through their eyes. Hopefully these posts will help people not only dealing with the issue of eating disorders but those who are helping others deal with this issue.

I have an eating disorder.

That was tough to write. They’re sneaky ones, eating disorders. They creep up on you and smash you in the face when you least expect it.

I’m Bulimic. Let me tell you a bit about my thought process with food. Some of you dealing with this might find that you relate. Essentially I like to taste the food but I don’t want to waste the calories on it because calories = weight gain = FAT. The fear of getting fat is at the centre of everything. I don’t seem to be able to process the fact that my body needs calories to function and perform basic tasks.

I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t thinking about food. It’s exhausting. Honestly. Everything scares me. Even skimmed milk and apples.

I’ve had crippling low self-esteem since I can remember. I feel that I have nothing else to offer anyone; I’m not funny or witty or cool. I have nothing worthy to contribute to any situation other than being skinny. People like skinny people. They judge them less. Even as I type this, I am fully aware of how ridiculous it sounds.

My dad and my brother used to call me fat when I was a kid because I wasn’t tall and skinny like they were.  When I ask them now why they said all those things, they said it was just to tease me because I was the youngest and the youngest always gets teased. It’s a rite of passage apparently. People don’t realise how the smallest, insignificant thing they say can blow someone’s life apart and resonate so deeply that it distorts the way they feel about themselves.

I was 14. No kid should ever be worrying about food at that age. This is when I started dieting and watching everything I ate. I’m now in my mid-twenties.

The eating disorder became its own monster last year when I was battling depression. I was crying all the time, I felt worthless and I didn’t go out because I thought that I was so insignificant that people wouldn’t miss me.

I started eating my feelings. I gained a little weight over Christmas and it made me so uncomfortable that I started obsessively going to the gym and watching my food. I started losing weight and feeling better but what knocked me sideways was when a group of girls (who I thought were my friends) decided, for no reason whatsoever, to tell me that “maybe it’s because it’s getting to summer and you’re wearing less clothes than before so you just look fatter”.

I went from feeling slightly better about myself to feeling like the biggest failure. I withdrew even further and started essentially abusing my body by cutting food and going to the extreme with exercise.

I’m losing my hair. I don’t have a period. I am now so afraid of food and overeating that I starve myself during the day and then sit there in the evening stuffing my face trying to catch up on the calories I have stopped myself from consuming. Then I’m so full that I go to bed feeling bloated, fat and uncomfortable. Fantastic. I wake up and it all starts again. Now I’m sure you’re thinking that the logical thing is to space food out during the day. You’re right. Try telling my brain that when it starts freaking out about overeating.

One day, my whole distorted world came crashing down around me when I was admitted to hospital. The reason? My eating disorder had messed up my body to the point where it was shutting down. To describe my hospitalisation as horrendous would be putting it lightly. I was also able to see how my utterly selfish actions had impacted the people I love the most. People kept saying: “You’re the healthiest and fittest person I know. I would have never expected you to end up in hospital!”. That’s hard to hear. I just wanted to yell at the top of my lungs: “I have an eating disorder!”. People look at you differently when you tell them that.

I’m now on the road to recovery. It’s a daily battle. Some days are harder than others. I have a therapist helping me to change how I think about myself. I gave my amazing boyfriend, Mother and Aunt access to my food diary so they can keep checking on me and motivating me. I have wonderful friends who I speak to about how I’m feeling. The simple act of listening does more than anyone can imagine.

I’m not sure what I did to deserve these people in my life but they see something in me that I need to see in myself. That I am important, I am worth it and I am significant to them.

To all of you who might be struggling with eating disorders: Please, get help. A therapist is not a weakness or a sign that you are messed up. You can overcome this. Tell someone. I know you might think that nobody will understand but it’s surprising how many people don’t actually look at you like you’re broken. You are loved, you are wanted and you have something to offer. Don’t let horrible people and horrible thoughts win. Cut out the negativity in your life. It will probably be the toughest thing you will ever do but the day you can eat that cake or that risotto without worrying about gaining weight will be the most beautiful day of your life.