I grew up thinking I was fat and ugly. There were many reasons for that. One reason being the social circle I was in at a young age, girls comparing their bodies to mine and making comments. Another reason was society and the comments my mother made. She never knew the impact her words had on me, but they did. There has been research on eating disorders, and maybe I was genetically predisposed to anorexia, and with the environment I grew up in, there was possibly no chance for me not to develop an eating disorder.
I have always been a picky eater, and that was my best cover while being in the darkest part of my disorder. If everyone thinks you’re a picky eater, they won’t question when you don’t eat. All you have to say is, “There’s nothing here I like, you know I’m so picky.” No one ever questioned me on the meals I skipped, or the tiny meals I might have eaten.
No one knew I fed half of my dinner to the dogs at night, except my sister, but even she didn’t realize I had a problem. No one really did. No one knew my obsession with the numbers on the scale. I laugh thinking about how much time I must have wasted back then, getting on the scale every hour, every time I went to the bathroom, hoping the number would be lower. Weight is irrelevant, and no number will make me happy.
I remember a friend in high school once commented on how little I ate, and I blew off the comment saying that I ate plenty (which I didn’t), even though I really believed I had anorexia. When I told my mom, she said, “You’re a picky eater, and you’re not underweight, you don’t have an eating disorder, just stop.” After that I really thought I was fine.
I ignored the stomach growls every morning, the exhaustion from walking around the city to get to class, the fact that I was dizzy, the over exercising to burn off every calorie that entered my body. I didn’t think I had a problem because I wasn’t “skinny enough.” I never was skinny enough, and I never will be. That is why anorexia is so deadly. No matter how much weight you lose, you have to keep losing because it’s never enough.
I only realized I had an eating disorder when I went to college and my first boyfriend asked if I had an eating disorder. He saw how I would get paralyzed entering a cafeteria, he saw how picky I was, he saw me throw away most of my food, and he said something. Thank you to my college boyfriend for speaking up, I never would have realized I had a problem, or maybe it would have been too late.
I call my anorexic voice ED. I remember there was a time where I couldn’t distinguish my own voice from ED’s voice. I thought his thoughts were my thoughts. Everyone had always treated my problems as if I am the problem. Only when I met my husband did he say that I was separate from my problems. That my problems weren’t who I was. That was a big turning point in recovering for me.
I now felt separate from my anorexia. I had gone to plenty of treatments over my college years with relapses. But only when I realized that I was separate from ED did I really begin to love myself and see who I was.
I was in treatment twice while being with my husband, who was at the time my boyfriend. Center For Discovery was the most amazing treatment center. I loved my experience there, and I haven’t relapsed since. I learned a lot in recovery. One of the most important things I learned was that there was no such thing as ‘skinny enough’ to qualify having an eating disorder. Weight is irrelevant when talking about an eating disorder, it’s truly about the mind and the thought distortions.
I also learned that I didn’t have to be deadly ill to be ill. I always thought the only way I’d deserve help was if I was dying, so I never asked because I never felt sick enough. That was the scary part, I didn’t think I was sick enough, when in reality I was quite sick.
Finally, I learned that food is good for you in balance, and there are no “bad” foods. It’s okay to have dessert 2-3 times a week, that’s normal. It’s okay to have a normal amount of food in a day. It’s okay that we all were on different meal plans. We all had our own individual needs, and Center for Discovery saw that.
If anyone reading this is struggling with an eating disorder I want to say, I understand. My experience may be different, but I understand the mental torture that ED does to you. I want you to know that you don’t have to be a certain weight to get help, I want you to know that help is out there, and that there are places to get support. It’s not only brave but courageous to get help for any mental health problem. I was terrified to get help, but getting help is what saved my life, so I could live my life. So, I challenge you to be brave, and live yours.
Today’s post was written by Savannah from Millennial Mrs and Mom.
Savannah is a 23-year-old student of Forensic Psychology who is a proud wife, expecting a baby in November. She writes about psychology, married life, pregnancy and her two adorable cats, Luvas and Emily. Her blog takes her audience on her journey with her and her husband. If your a millennial mom or dad, just trying to figure life out, you are going to love Savannah.