Our story today is part of a bigger picture that makes up the author. Our author muses that we are all made up of many different stories and that is what makes us who we are. This is so true. Humans are complex and we each come with our own back story, current stories and have all stories we have yet to write.
Today’s story is about a twenty year struggle with an eating disorder and touches upon a subject close to my heart in the way society judges one another on appearance alone. I admire our author’s bravery in talking about this subject and hope other’s take encouragement from it, you can survive an eating disorder, it doesn’t have to be death sentence. The author asked that we use a poster from BEAT (The UK Eating Disorder Charity) to raise awareness of the subject and to encourage conversations with anyone who may be suffering; early intervention can prevent an eating disorder becoming routine and taking control of a large portion of a person’s life, like it did for the author of today’s story.
Surviving an Eating Disorder…………
My Story. Well it’s not my story, not my whole story anyway, it’s part of my story. That in itself was a revelation to me on my road to where I am now; in a much better place than I’ve been before.
My life story is made of of many different tales held together, albeit tentatively, by me. This part of my life began when I was around fourteen years old. I don’t remember a specific trigger moment. It just sort of started. I have never been comfortable with my appearance or size. I remember being self conscious all the time. Ironically I was also loud and attracted attention. A defence mechanism, they said.
I thought I was fat. I know now that I wasn’t but reason was out the window almost as soon as the thought entered my head. I began putting little rules on what I ate and when. Controlling and restricting my diet. That was the beginning. It was a few years later when I first discovered I could purge after eating. I remember I had joined a slimming club (I didn’t need to) and I was dreading the weigh in. I ate a burger to defy myself. I threw it up. It seemed to work ok as I didn’t put any weight on. An idea was born, in fact a routine was born and so my life became a series of being bulimic for a year or so, then restricting food entirely for a while to become almost painfully thin to then bingeing and occasionally purging to get myself back up to a decent weight then repeat the three year cycle. It is so typical of me to not have one specific issue but for my disorderly eating to take on elements of every type of eating disorder! I let this catastrophic routine carry on for twenty years of my life. Nothing could break it in my mind. Not even having my children. I really tried to eat normally when I was pregnant but I just didn’t know any different and so I binged. I really binged. I was huge but of course I had a way, a secret way that only I knew about, to lose the weight afterwards.
I don’t know what made me stop. It was a few things coming to a head at once. I became ill, depressed, and at the time very thin. I was scared I was losing control. Being in control is important to me, they said. I couldn’t stop losing weight. I was drinking too much, having panic attacks; my life was unraveling. I had to ask for help. Asking for help was the hardest thing I have ever done. I am not sure the counselling helped. They spoke a lot and they told me lots of things about myself but that wasn’t the part I found most helpful, I think just going to see someone, admitting my problems, was the catalyst I needed to change my mindset. The provisions for eating disorders in my local area wasn’t brilliant so maybe it was just as well I was ready to help myself. I began to talk openly to people about how I had been losing the weight over the years. One thing I really notice now is how we, women, judge one another on our weight and appearance and how we really celebrate weight loss like someone who has a certificate from a slimming club is celebrated more than someone who has discovered a cure for disease. I am being cynical but I do worry that as a society we place far too much importance on how we look. People say they are doing it for themselves but the compliments feel great don’t they? When you get ‘too thin’ it also struck me how people felt they had a right to comment on that but when I was overweight people would not even look at you and would never dare comment. People are strange. They told me not to give too much thought to what other people think of me. I think they may be right as I certainly care less now than I ever have.
I got better for me and my family. For the first time in my adult life I have allowed myself to eat meals without rules. I have gained weight. I do care, I really care, but I am not the same person I was before. I have learned to cook and have researched healthy, balanced meals. I still have to have regular blood tests as I was on the cusp of long term damage to my kidneys and liver with my poor lifestyle choices for such a long period of time. I am doing okay though. The eating disorder voice in my head will always be with me but I have enough of a grip on the rest of my mind now to control it. I am in control. I do not need to control my weight as I am in control of my life and I didn’t need them to tell me that, I worked that out for myself!
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