The following excerpt was posted on my social media platforms on February 28, 2015. I want to share this post on my blog because it represents a critical day in my life – the day I decided to expose the truth about my battle with ED.
As National Eating Disorder Awareness Week comes to a close, I am making the brave decision to publicly disclose my own personal battle with anorexia. I have been debating whether or not to post this all week, as my disorder is something I have never openly discussed. Not even my family or closest friends know of my disorder, but if my post can touch just one person, it will be well worth it.
The theme of this year’s #NEDAwarenessWeek is #IHadNoIdea. I had no idea I would develop an eating disorder. I had no idea I would have to fake a smile to keep my misery a secret. I had no idea I would lose my gallbladder from malnutrition. I had no idea I would sink into a deep depression. I had no idea I would lose my (singing) voice. I had no idea I would lose my friends, my passions, my health, my happiness, my sanity. This is my story.
My battle with anorexia began in 2011 and quickly took control of my life. What started out as losing weight somehow turned into losing hope. Teased and tormented for my weight since the third grade, I grew up hating myself. I laughed the comments off and tried my best to play along, but in reality I cried behind closed doors and hated what I saw in the mirror.
Fat, ugly, and unwanted, I began my first diet when I was 10 years old. Every year I tried to lose weight with minimal success. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that my weight loss was successful. Bullied in school and belittled by “loved ones,” the psychological effects of hurtful comments pushed me over the edge. After being told by a boy at school that I looked “exceptionally fat” one day, food became my enemy.
Drastically cutting calories and working out compulsively led me to drop 40 pounds in a mere two months. The compliments were so flattering – suddenly I went from the chubby outcast to the attractive girl the boys actually acknowledged. Except my body still wasn’t good enough in my eyes and never could be, even in a size zero. Plateauing at 99 pounds, I knew my body didn’t want to lose any more weight. This was unacceptable to me; drastic measures had to be taken.
Every week my caloric intake became lower and lower, until I settled on less than 800 calories a day in addition to two hours of running on the treadmill. Terrified of gaining a pound, I developed a severe fear of eating and an obsession with tracking and counting. Every nutrition fact was committed to memory. Every calorie had to be counted. I was a walking calculator. Each meal was followed by an emotional breakdown.
Now severely unweight and malnourished at 89 pounds, my body began to shut down. My skin turned pale and sickly, my face sunken in, my hair falling out, my heart palpitating, and my body bruised and frigid; my family grew worrisome, accusing me of anorexia and forcing me to see a dietitian. I became defensive, mean, and denied my disorder. I isolated myself from friends and relatives and became detached from society, caring more about my workouts than the people I love. I have denied anorexia to this day when in reality, I am plagued with the aftermath and tormented by my thoughts.
Fortunately, I have come a long way in my battle. I am proud to announce that I have gained 25 pounds from my lowest weight. I now consume roughly 1,500 calories more than I did during my battle and I engage in weight lifting and a reasonable cardio routine. Despite issues with body image and food phobia that will stay with me the rest of my life, I am now more confident than ever. I have come such a long way and I am very proud of myself for my journey. My disorder has inspired me to speak out and spread awareness. I am currently pursuing my Masters Degree in Dietetics and am interested in working with eating/exercising disorder patients.
Anorexia is a living nightmare; a misunderstood, secretive illness. Eating disorders are not self-induced, but a serious mental illness. I am facing the consequences of my disorder every day with several chronic illnesses that have plagued my life for years and will stay with me throughout my lifetime. It is only my hope that my story will help someone one day. Eating disorders are nothing to be ashamed of. We must stand up and spread awareness to save lives before it is too late. You can stand up, you can recover, you can make a difference.
You are enough. You are beautiful. ❤