Today is a post not written by me. The author of this post will be anonymous, and I feel so honoured to be sharing it with you today. As part of my mental health awareness month, I asked for people to send in their stories to help share awareness and break the stigma. Today’s post is about the author’s battle with an eating disorder.
My story starts with the normal pressures of being a girl in today’s culture. As the ‘bigger’ friend amongst my classmates, I felt the, not uncommon, feelings of low self-esteem, lack of body confidence and desire to fit in. I tried various dieting methods in mid-teens but nothing really stuck. It wasn’t until later that this became an obsession. In my last year of school things in my life started to go wrong. With illnesses and deaths in my family, obsessing over food became my coping mechanism. I skipped meals and it became addictive.
The more weight I lost, the more I wanted to lose. I began to get more attention from guys and people told me how tiny I was and it felt good. But the feeling never lasted long; I still hated what I saw in the mirror. My world became my body. When my body began rejecting the small amount of food I did eat, I loved the feeling of emptiness it gave me. But even in children’s clothes, my reflection was too fat; I wasn’t small enough. It wasn’t long before I stopped eating altogether. Socialising with friends over food and dinner time with my family became a fear. I began lying to my family about what I ate and pushing any help away. In terms of the physical toll; I lost a significant amount of weight, I got weaker and my periods stopped. But my body was my focus.
For a short time it got better. I admitted this behaviour wasn’t normal and began to eat small amounts again. However, it hit a low when I started university after summer. Within the first month, I was beginning to notice a weight gain and I hated myself for this. The guilt of eating even the smallest meal was overwhelming. When starving myself wasn’t providing quick enough results to lose what I had gained, I made myself sick. I joined every possible fitness class I could and did sit ups every spare minute I had. I hated the way I looked and would do anything to change it. I was miserable. Nothing seemed able to get me out of this cycle of self-loathing except the possibility of an ‘Instagram-worthy body’. There were nights I would cry over my ‘fat’ body in a pit of self-hate. I wanted out.
Flash forward a few months and, with the support of family and friends, my life looks totally different. Now I can enjoy a meal with friends and a good slice of cake! I’ve gained 3 stone and feel so much more at peace. Of course, there are frequently still times when I feel self-conscious and dislike my figure but I have found my identity in knowing that I am so much more than a dress size or a number on the scales. I am no longer bound by my diet but have found freedom. I am not defined by my body shape or outward appearance. I am loved and valued. I am me, and there’s no one else who can say that.
I hope this story allows others to feel like they are not alone. When I read this entry I just felt so emotionally moved that the individual felt they could share their story. Hearing they have gained 3 stone is such a momentous thing, and it is truly a sign that they are on the road to recovery.
Those that battle with any eating disorder, or other mental health issues, it can be so hard to speak out and ask for help. Websites like Mind can offer some support and guidance.