I lived my life wearing a mask.
Faking smiles, pretending to take notes while really just planning what I was allowed to eat throughout the day.
I was a zombie around campus, thinking about how I could get out of already-made plans so I wouldn’t have to eat. When I couldn’t, I agonized over the best place to purge where I couldn’t be heard.
My life was in shambles. My grades suffered, relationships ruined, and any hope I had went down the toilet, along with my desire to live.
Every day was a constant struggle. I got on the scale; I got off the scale and back on, six times in the row. The number dictated my mood for the day.
I wasted years of my life wrestling with my eating disorder and the voice in my head. I hated who I had became and I wanted out so bad, but once I had been locked away inside of my ED’s clutches, it was hard for me to escape.
Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that control you.
It’s like one moment I thought, “It’s okay. I can do this. I can take the step toward recovery.” And the next, my head would be stuck down someone’s toilet.
I was fifteen when I was officially diagnosed with an eating disorder, but my problems started when I was eight years old. I remember the first day I skipped a meal, the empty and pure feeling after days without food. I remember wanting to be invisible. The first time I purged I was in my teens. I wanted out, knew I was destroying myself but didn’t care. It was like a drug.
When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t like the person staring back at me. I’d always had self-esteem issues and knew getting better would mean ruining any progress I had made. After all, to me being thin was like this magical place where everyone was happy.
I’d even had a goal chart thinking, “At this weight, I’ll make more friends,” and, “At this weight, I’ll get a boyfriend,” when really I was just a walking shell of a person, emotionless, isolated and alone.
Eating disorders are very secretive illnesses, invisible until you start to show symptoms.
No one knew I was sick until I passed out and was diagnosed with anemia. Then my doctor caught on. I was young, in high school, so they suggested therapy.
Sometimes an eating disorder can affect your mood and alter your brain chemistry. With me, it caused anxiety and some mood flux.
Without a strong support system, it was a long road. I took my lack of support to mean that I really wasn’t sick, didn’t have to listen to the doctors.
That line of thinking ran all the way into my college years — until I met my fifth, and final, therapist. She specialized in eating disorders, had had one once, and could read me like a book. She connected me with everything I needed, even a psychiatrist for medications and a nutritionist.
But even after everything, I still wasn’t sure I wanted to get better. By then, my eating disorder had become who I was.
It destroyed me so much so that I was given an ultimatum, forced into an inpatient treatment facility out of state by my doctor and therapist. I was terrified to go, but it was truly a rewarding experience and I’m glad that I did. Coming out, I did relapse, but was able to bounce back and recognize the negative thoughts and help myself.
I know now that holding on to my eating disorder would’ve meant never having a chance to live.
Now, in recovery, I find that I have more self-confidence. I try new things. I’m able to eat with friends or my sister in public and not suffer a panic attack. I’m able to get through my day without the aid of anxiety pills, can find out who I really am and enjoy life as is.
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