May 16, 2017
This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
‘I feel like I am taking control of something, yet really I have no control at all’ is the first thought that comes to mind when my social worker asks me to describe my current eating habits. You see, nothing is okay. I am numb, walking around like a robot with the constant nagging of “do not eat” playing on rotation in my mind. Sadly, nothing will be okay until that voice stops and I am left with just bone, skinless and all.
Every time I eat I feel like a criminal stealing calories.
As someone on the outside, you see me as a girl with mixed coloured hair, put together, tall – six foot one to be precise, with a smiling face and a giddy laugh. A person who seems to take pride in herself and wears business-causal clothing to display that. An individual whose weight is thin, but still normal for her height; basically, you see an adult with self-confidence and pride. The problem is, that girl is not me.
Look deeper and you will see the tremors overwhelming my body. The last time I had something to eat was at six pm last night. I have been restricting my food intake, trying to reach my goal weight of 130lbs for this week. That was the first meal I consumed in the twenty-four hours prior and after I ate, I walked over 10000 steps. Today, I feel weak, tired and hungry. But I cannot eat, because every time I eat I feel like a criminal stealing calories.
Not many people know that four out of ten individuals have personally experienced an eating disorder or know somebody who has. They can develop during any stage in life, but typically appear during the teen or young adult years – I believe, for myself, the symptoms were always underlining, but the habits did not manifest until my adulthood.
My eating disorder is not about the desire to look young or eat healthy.
Of course, being diagnosed with major depression – I contributed my body distortions and low self-esteem to depression and its’ best friend anxiety. The two were always screaming “you are ugly” on rotation in my mind. “”YOU ARE UGLY, YOU ARE UGLY, YOU ARE UGLY!” – a core belief so ingrained that I was never strong enough to block it out or change it. Ultimately, the thoughts ended up leading me into an eating disorder that consists of starving myself and exercising excessively.
For me, my eating disorder is not about the desire to look young or eat healthy. It is the emotional turmoil underneath, it’s about the feelings attached to the distorted body image I have carried all my life; never thinking I was beautiful, thin, or good enough.
Even though, logically, I know that I am harming my body, I cannot bring myself to make changes. The disease quickly took over and I became numb – just physically acting out the behaviours. Some days, I eat. I feel full and remember the reasons why I used to love food. And on the other days, I cannot eat without becoming extremely angry with myself.
I recognize and am fully aware that my body needs nutrients to keep up with the physical exercise I endure or else it will break down. Yet, it is becoming more clear every day that the emotional turmoil is still there, and the obsessive behaviours of working out will always come back. These behaviours have hijacked my life, they have become my way of living.
I’m not that self-confident, prideful girl anymore.
Today, when I look in the mirror I see someone who is obese, not someone who is thin to the bone as others insist. My eyes have sunken to a dark grey. My hair has started to fall out. And my strength has evaporated to trembling weakness. I’m not that self-confident, prideful girl anymore.
Despite all those symptoms, I do not feel small enough to have a ‘serious’ problem and society generally agrees. Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders are quite often kicked under the rug and talked about as “teenage problems.” The reality is, eating disorders have one of the highest mortality rates of all mental illnesses – people just don’t see it, because they chose not to pay attention.
It is so easy to become bones, skinless and all when no one is watching
The question is: Are you watching?
Tomorrow I open my eyes and start my journey of recovery as an out-patient. Tomorrow I take back the show. Tomorrow will be the start of a different ending to my story – or so I hope.