This morning I read a post on Crazy for Crust, that had me in tears. I am not sure how many of you have dealt with eating disorders but for me and my family it has been a nightmare. I wish it were different and that I never put them through that hell, but I am trying to get passed my regrets and to heal.
As a child I was not overweight but I did treat my anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem with food. Food was a reward for good behavior, and part of me wonders if this was a trigger for things to come later. As an adolescent I filled in much faster than my friends. I had breasts and a figure before everyone and the boys noticed. I wasn’t one to be the center of attention and hated it. Girls noticed it and bullied me. I was shy, depressed, and hated myself. I was not overweight and was very active at the time. But girls are mean and I stopped playing sports because I was so self conscious. During that time my parents went through a divorce and I managed my stress and self-esteem issues by eating. I used to hide food under my bed, and anywhere I could think of. I gained a ton of weight. By the time I was 18 I weighed 200 lbs, and was miserable.
For years, I ate when I was happy, ate when I was sad, and just ate. I wouldn’t let anyone get close to me because I was scarred of rejection and couldn’t handle the snide comments of peers about my looks. I frustrated my mother, who with best intentions wanted me to get healthy. Her methods, while I now understand them did nothing to improve my self image, and I ate more.
My senior year of college I met a group of girls who seemed to care nothing about my appearance and who ate healthy and rode bikes for fun. This was a new concept to me. They enjoyed exercise, food and were genuinely unconcerned about looks. They were great coworkers and eventually after a lot of persuasion I agreed to go on a few bike rides. I loved it. I loved being outside and the eating healthy fell in line without the pressure. That summer I started losing weight, and over a course of two years lost 70 lbs. I loved to eat but it was no longer something I did to treat myself. My self-esteem was at an all time high and I loved life.
I graduated, and moved home. I received all sorts of comments about how wonderful I looked, and how did I do it. I also met my husband at this time. Some how in my head I turned the weight loss into this is why people like me and this is how to get approval. I mean without losing weight, no one could possibly love me, right? I started to lose more weight. I remember driving home from my husbands house after a night out and pulling over to throw up the food I just ate. I wanted to please him by eating, but couldn’t stand the thought of eating that much food anymore. At home I ate dinner because it was the only meal my parents would see me eat.
People began to notice, and this time the comments weren’t always good. I weighed 120 lbs when I got married, and on my 5 7 frame I was beginning to look sick. I didn’t care, I marked my success each time the scale went down. Eventually all I ate in a day was a single apple, and a 20 oz diet coke. I would use excuses not to eat dinner, and luckily for me my husband got home late from school and wasn’t there to see me eat. At my worst I weighed 87 lbs. I looked like the walking dead. When people would try to get me to eat, I would only starve myself in punishment later and with hold the next days meal. I was hungry, angry, defensive, and severely depressed. Eventually I started to believe that death was an option and the best one for my friends and family. I know it really isn’t, but when you are in that state is is amazing to see what seems to make sense to your starved and depressed mind.
I received medical attention, and over the course of a year gained a lot back. I ate everything in sight, even things I hated. I ate like there was no tomorrow and I had never seen food. Looking back at this the medical attention was not what it should have been. Yes I needed to gain weight, but now I am addicted to sugar and carbs. They addressed only the weight and not the person. I have since received counseling, but in all honesty there is only so much they can do. The best help I did receive was one day when I went to my Mom’s and just cried, instead of trying to talk to me, she just held me. It was what I really needed, and for the first time in years I ate a healthy meal and spent more time with her. I cannot tell you how destructive good intentions can be to someone going threw this. People constantly tried to force me to eat, my husband wanted me to list all the items I ate in a day. He stopped touching because in his words he was “afraid to hurt me.” Well I can tell you that I know everyone meant well, but really it just made it worse. I am sorry for putting them through that and I hope I can get them to trust me again someday.
Two years later, I am at a healthy weight but I cannot shake the F.A.T. feelings. I feel enormous. I can eat good for a few days but then will binge and starve for another two. It’s a vicious cycle and part of the reason I started this blog. I really want to learn to have a better relationship with food and with myself. However, a few days of good is winning and I will increase until eventually I am not obsessed about it and can trust myself again.
I hope that no one ever has to go through this. While I am not quite where I was in College, I am working on my self image everyday. I am a work-in-progress but I am determined to find a way to be better.
I will stop using the word F.A.T.
I will not binge just because I ate one cookie.
I will not starve myself.
I will exercise because I like too.
I will be here for my family! I choose life!