So today I’m going to share a more ‘serious’ topic: I’m going to share the story about my eating disorder. This all started about 3 years ago, and it was without doubt the darkest time of my life.. So now sharing and writing about it is actually very scary, but also freeing at the same time.
This is merely a wish to share my experience, what I went through and maybe someone out there can relate and find what I have to say helpful. I just feel like I’ve kept things to myself for too long, so if anyone out there should have any interest in reading my story – this is it.
Let’s start with how I was before my eating disorder. I’ve always been a happy and active girl. I’ve always had a slim body at a healthy weight, but at the same time I‘ve always loved to eat! But something along the way changed, mainly because aspects of my social life got really bad – I won’t get into too many details about that, but overall there were some people in my life that made me very miserable and I started to feel very lonely. I think the best way to describe it is that it felt like a dark blanket was pulled over my life. I felt like I was empty and completely on my own, and generally not worthy – and boy have I wasted many tears through that period of time! I felt like I wasn’t in control of anything in my life, so subconsciously I started to project my feelings towards food. (But actually the problem is not the food – the problem is usually other parts of our lives that are consuming us and making us feel powerless).
At this point I was hurting inside, and slowly I started to develope a very hateful relationship to my body. I started to feel disgusted by what I saw in the mirror, and I felt fat (I wasn’t). I felt like I wasn’t good enough, and like I didn’t deserve food. So I started to deprive my body from eating, whilst keeping up with a lot of exercise – thinking that this was the only way I could possibly feel good about myself.
At the beginning, I would only eat carrots throughout the day – and I clearly remember the deep, hollow sound of my stomach growling (screaming “FEED ME NOW!”)… but I didn’t listen. I couldn’t, because my mind was just too much in the way. Exercise (running) was a huge pain for me, because my legs felt like heavy rocks (due to undereating). But I still continued to torture myself and drag them along.
One thing is very clear to me: once the thoughts of restriction, obsessive exercise and punishment were brought into my life (happened in a relatively short amount of time), they were nearly impossible to shake off – and that is where the fight truly began, because all of those thoughts just manifested inside me and got out of control.
Obviously my weight started to drop pretty drastically, and soon my mom started to notice my strange behavior and overall unhappiness. I don’t remember much from the time after this, but all I know is that it was filled with so much confusion, pain and frustration for me but also everyone in my family. I suddenly couldn’t eat around my family because… Well because I just couldn’t stand it. My mind and body was in complete chaos. After I ate something that my eating disorder couldn’t handle, I would collapse and cry.
My weight got lower and lower. I was put on a scale once a week by my doctor, and every time more weight had come off me. I felt terrible. It felt like I was fading away. However, there was always a healthy part of me that couldn’t believe what was going on, and just wanted to breathe, live and feel good again. But that part wasn’t strong enough to overpower my demons at that point. I wanted to change, but I couldn’t because I was hurting so much inside. And I could feel my bones against my skin. Especially my hipbones. A very sick part of me, felt like that gave me comfort.. Ugh I’m not even going to get into that! I remember how I liked being small. I liked the fact that I didn’t take up much space in the world. I just wanted to be held in some ones arms and have someone tell me I was worth it.
My mind was a mess. And from the way I see it now, my brain was so deprived from nutrients/food that it was impossible not to have panic attacks all the time, freak out and only getting worse. Once you’re at such a miserable stage, you do not see what happens clearly – you don’t realize that what you fear the most (food) is what will actually save you. It’s really hard to explain but it’s also like you’re physically unable to do what’s necessary to get better. I was very obsessive about and around food, and everything had to be perfect. I prepared all of my food by myself mainly because I was stubborn and needed the control, which also led to so much stress in my recovery.
My eating disorder got to a point where I was very close to getting hospitalized (IE force feeding, complete bed rest etc.). Somehow I ended up at only 42 kilograms (I’m 173 cm). Now that’s scary stuff! And I was scared at that time – a lot!. I remember it was winter and freezing cold, and everyone didn’t want to let me go outside, because they were afraid I was going to get a heart attack. This was the point where my mom did a brave thing by taking me out of the system and finding me an alternative ‘healer’. She was a lady with her own little ‘business’, and she had previously cured hundreds of others in my situation. She had a loving warm heart which was everything I really needed.
For a long time I wasn’t gaining any weight (it even dropped a little). But this woman kept telling me that it would happen and that she believed in me! I was put on a meal plan (which I slowly adapted to) and slowly the weight gain started to happen. Now I didn’t exactly feel good about it. I was still battling anorexia in my mind. I still had the healthy part of me, who desperately wanted to heal and get better, but I also had the sick part of me that didn’t want recovery. As I said, those thoughts were damn hard to kick out! But at some point along the way you make a choice. You make a choice of who you want to be – In the end I chose not to let my illness define me anymore. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight, it takes TIME and you just have to fight, while accepting that both your body and mind needs time to heal.
But slowly and surely things started to get better. I still keep a lot of notes that I wrote and photographs of my body from the time where I was at my worst (trust me, it wasn’t pretty). But some of the stuff I wrote down is actually very nice to reread. For example:
“Just look at yourself, and realise that this is not a place for you or anyone to live – because it’s not really living at all”
“I never thought I was going to truly feel good about gaining weight. It always scared me to be able to see physical changes in my body. But last night I looked myself in the mirror (something I’ve generally tried to avoid for the past 6 months) I saw something that was –not entirely healthy and normal- but was getting there. I actually looked like I was alive for a chance. Now that I feel a change, I know that what I’ve done has been right all along. I know that I want to feel good again. And most importantly, I know that once and for all I’ll be able to love myself for who I am, and who I’m supposed to be. I’m not giving up”
As you can tell, one of the things I wanted the most was to feel ‘alive’ again. Because for a long time, I didn’t. All an eating disorder does is consume you, while sucking the life out of you. Sorry for the harsh words, but this is how I see it. I also wrote down a few comments other people gave me during my recovery:
“Sophie, you’ve gotten more light in your eyes”
“You are glowing now”
Those comments just made me want to keep going and grow. Those kinds of comments that are not about physical appearance (that might trigger you and bring you down when you’re at a very fragile state) but instead a reminder that the essence of you -your being- is shining through.
Lastly a few more words of wisdom that I wrote a while back:
“It won’t do to try to live a perfect life. The obsession it brings is only going to holding you back. There’s no such thing as perfect, and by trying to find it, you simply cannot live life to the fullest”
So yes, this is how my story ended up in words. Surely there’s more to be said but I feel like I’ve captured what I wanted to share for now. This is not a closed topic though, and I might come back to it in the future (like what happened after this, etc.).
I truly believe that we were placed on this earth so that we can embrace life in every aspect – to live abundantly and be healthy, glowing and at peace with ourselves. But life is not just the good parts, and most people will face struggles along the way. It may cause you pain, tears and heartbreak but just know that you’re not alone, you’re worth it and I believe in you.
Much love ♥