My Journey Through an Eating Disorder
For as long as I can remember I have felt as if I don’t belong, like I just don’t fit in this world. I think that these feelings haunting me every day are something that seriously contributed to the development of my depression. I have a hard time even pin pointing when this started but I’m going to say it was around 13 years old. At the time I didn’t realize I had depression, I just knew something was off in my system.
Around this time my parents divorced. My mother worked long hours and my brother and I barely spoke so I was left alone basically all the time, which was way too long to be with only my thoughts. At 14 I began binge eating. I was lonely, depressed and had no one to talk about my feelings with, so food seemed like a good fix for the sadness. I can vividly remember walking in the door after school, dropping my bag and going straight for the food, full of intense anxiety waiting to get that first bite in my mouth. Then of course came the guilt, especially on the days I had dance class and was forced to put on a leotard after eating until I was so stuffed I thought I was going to die. However, dance was my only outlet at the time and I strongly believe it is why I am still alive today. It allowed me to unconsciously express everything in my system that I was unaware was happening. I had numbed myself with food and dance was the only way I was able to connect with my feelings.
The binge eating and depression continued throughout the rest of high school and into college (where I majored in dance of course). There were bouts of restriction but most of the time I was focused on stuffing my feelings down with food. When I was 19 things changed drastically, I began to restrict. I was so proud of myself for not binging that restriction became something I was instantly obsessed with. Counting calories, dancing until exhaustion and weighing myself became my religion. My weight dropped quickly and before I knew it I was severely underweight. I can remember going to the doctor and being told if I continued to dance that I would probably have a heart attack. I didn’t believe him, and frankly I didn’t care. I was thin now so nothing else mattered.
Once summer came and the school year was over, I became a complete slave to my eating disorder. My life consisted of only a few things; sleeping, locking myself in my room, going to my part time hostess job and obsessing about my body. I was constantly crying and couldn’t think straight. Even with all of the things I was in denial that I had any sort of problem. There however was one fateful day when I became so hopeless that I finally called my Mom and declared that I needed help. I couldn’t live this way anymore.
Within days I was going to my first therapy appointment with the therapist who would literally save my life. After beginning therapy, I was set up with a dietitian and began my attempt at weight restoration. As much as I tried doing this, outpatient was not working so I was admitted into a residential treatment facility for what I was told would be a week. Little did I know that was just a lie to get me in there for what ended up being 66 long and memorable days. I had some of the best times in my life when I was there and met some of the most amazing people. I ended up having to take a year off of school but that was okay because I now saw that I needed time to allow myself to get better, this wasn’t something that was going to happen overnight.
Unfortunately, as we all know, recovery is by no means a linear process and may not stick the first time. Through the years, I have gone through multiple relapses and for a while alcohol replaced my eating disorder (which is a whole other story in itself). However, getting through each relapse has made me stronger and each one has started to be for shorter periods of time. That is growth, which is something I am always reminding myself of.
Now at 26, six years after I first began treatment and 12 years after my eating disorder began, I am fighting once again. Today I am working harder on my recovery than I ever have in the past. I feel that this could be the time that things stick. I have an amazing treatment team and a support system that I will forever be grateful for. I have been sober for almost two years and with all of my being want to get to that same place with my eating disorder. Yes, I fear the unknown but I now feel that the future can hold great things. Every day I am choosing to nourish my body, mind and spirit properly. I am allowing my feelings to be expressed, and I am slowly but surely gaining freedom from my illness.
This is where I am at today and that is how I got here (written in the shortest way possible, I could honestly be going on for pages upon pages). If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to comment; I am always willing to talk about my story because I believe awareness and understanding are essential.
Today I am choosing recovery. I hope you all will stand with me and do the same.
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