I would like to share my story and how I became the person I am today. I was in my late twenties when I realized that I had spent so many years of my life mentally and physically abusing myself. It was a daunting realization – almost surreal. I was an educated, intelligent, sensitive and accomplished young woman, bewildered that I had ended up in such a predicament.
This is the story of how eating disorders tore my life apart, and how I found the courage to put the pieces slowly back together and change my life for the better.
I rationalized that if I could just be thin and perfect, I would be accepted and happy again. Unconsciously, I sought to regain some semblance of order in my life. I tried to control my body and, at the same time, suppress all of my emotions and feelings. So began a decade of restrictive eating, bingeing and purging in search of my ultimate goal: perfection.
As I started dropping weight, I used the excuse I was doing my mother's "Sweating to The Oldies" video tape. I would never eat in front of anyone because I knew I needed to get rid of the food right after. I also feared people would think I was fat and shouldn't be eating what I was eating.
I soon was in the full grip of bulimia nervosa. I hid my bingeing, purging and obsessive exercising behaviours from everyone and returned to what appeared to be a healthy weight. I hated myself even more.
At the age of 17 my dad found the bags of my purges by the trash can and confronted me with it. This is when my parents took me to counseling. Of course, I told the counselor and my parents what they wanted to hear. This only paused my eating disorder. I then became pregnant at a very young age. I completely stopped my binging and purging and I made sure I ate for my baby. But right after birth, I was back at it to lose this baby weight. I was purging so much I started bleeding. This scared me to death but did not completely stop me from this dark cloud.
For so long, I had heard a little voice inside me telling me that I was ugly, fat, stupid and incompetent. I thought that I could stop restricting, bingeing and purging if I really tried. I just had to try harder. I would tell myself that this year, this month, this week, today – I would not binge or eat anything unhealthy. Of course, what I was really saying each time was today I will be perfect. And I would continue to set myself up to fail.
I had been out of touch with my true feelings and emotions for so long that I didn't know how to express them without hurting myself. I believed that showing my emotions, especially crying, was a sign of weakness or that I was not in control. I was my dad's daughter. He was hard on me and I couldn't show weakness growing up.
At first, I thought that taking responsibility for my eating disorder meant that it was my fault. I felt like a failure for having let it continue for so long. Over time, I began to understand that responsibility meant something different and I could choose to recover. I realized that recovery was within my reach and that there was no one who could stop me from getting there.
I had lived with the irrational belief that nothing I ever did was good enough, which I translated into the belief I was never good enough. I always wanted to be the perfect child, the perfect student, the perfect athlete, and have the perfect body. I had thought if I could be perfect, I would feel adequate. Ironically, the more I tried to be perfect, the more inadequate I felt.
Well, into my late twenties, I started researching nutrition and what it did for the body. I researched weight training and how I could benefit from it. I taught myself how to eat again and that food was fuel, not my enemy. I started seeing muscle developing and I felt excited and almost proud. I thought to myself this is going to save my life. I knew if I did not find something soon to stop me I was going to end up dead. Now today, I am incredibly proud of how far I have come and I still have to work on my struggles. Every day, I have my positive mantras. There are even times when I see certain foods and the thought still pops up in my head. Every day is a struggle but each day I grow stronger.
I cannot tell you the exact day that I recovered, because it was a process of change that happened over a very long time. It took many years, a variety of methods and a myriad of environments.
I am here to say I am with you if you are suffering from an eating disorder. I understand what this can do to a person. I've learned to accept that my life has ups and downs and that even the most difficult situations can provide me with opportunities to grow spiritually and mentally.