The ability to gracefully live amongst a world of perfectionism is an understatement. Perfectionism is a word created by society to keep us in our nice and tidy box. A world created that is nothing but ordinary; however, it is justified as anything but that. The simple word called “perfect” creates so many problems.
Growing up, I was surrounded with all the beautiful people, on television, movies, and in magazines. As a teenager, I wanted to be beautiful too; I wanted to look like the perfect models displayed throughout my social media. I was enticed with being perfect and at any cost.
When I turned thirteen-years old I started my first diet. It was more of a starvation, until the guy that I liked said I was too skinny. I wanted him to like me, so I started eating again. At seventeen years old, I wanted to lose a few pounds. I loved standing on my scale every morning, waiting to see the results – had I lost weight? It was such a euphoric feeling witnessing as with each day to see the weight dropping off. If I could lose five pounds, maybe I could lose five more and five more after that. It became an obsession with me. Something that started out so innocently had turned vile. I was obsessed with food, or the lack of it.
What once started out as wanting to be beautiful, had now turned to wanting to have control – control of my life. You see, at the time, my parents had the control. They said where I would go to high school my senior year, they said what college I would go to and what my major would be, they said who I was or wasn’t to date – they controlled my waking existence. I just wanted a little piece of that control back, so I took it, the only way I knew how, by controlling what I ate.
Sadly, I went from one hundred fifteen pounds to ninety pounds in under a year. I looked dead, but I still saw myself as fat. I continued to starve myself, while exercising excessively. My mom caught on to me and said I had to start eating or she would put me into a hospital for eating disorders. So, I tricked her by eating and then throwing it up. I was now anorexic and bulimic.
I did break the eating disorder cycle; perhaps, but now I was dealing with another destructive disorder to address. My mom was off my back, thinking I was okay again – “normal”, but I wasn’t, I continued to struggle with my distorted body image and damaging thoughts.
Eventually, I maintained my eating, learning new eating habits and ways to control my urges to binge and starve myself after the binge. I’ve developed new coping skills throughout the years, maintained a healthy weight, glowing skin and hair, and food is no longer my enemy.
I can now eat without feeling guilty every time I am hungry or thinking about food. However, thirty years later – I still have a body image distortion. I’m good with food again, until I start to gain weight and at that point my old thought processes creep in – distorting my perspective.
So, to say I’m cured? I would have to say no – eating disorders are like any other addictive personality, you can get back to a healthy you, living a normal life, but you’re always an addict. The good news is – I’ve learned how to control it instead of it controlling me.
- if you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or a distorted body image perspective – reach out to NEDA Feeding Hope by texting “NEDA” to 741741 – they have counselors available to talk 24/7
2 thoughts on “Living with an Eating Disorder”
Such a triggering topic. It is not easy to take control of eating in a healthy way because we need to eat to live. I struggle with bingeing periodically and the struggle is so real. I make deals with myself that I can binge today if I don’t eat for a few days. Where does this mindset come from I wonder?
I couldn’t agree more. I used to always bargain with myself too. Excessive exercise and starvation for days was my punishment when I overate or binged. The mindset comes from a need to control something in our life…it is the one aspect of our life that we can control. My experience is that eating disorders start out innocently enough and spiral out of control – but I did get better and have healthy eating habits now. It takes time, self-love and patience with one’s self and discovering what made us start in the first place. The eating disorder is the symptom.