I finally don’t have the obsessive thoughts of food, weight and hatred constantly plaguing me.
The gloss wears off
I was a happy but anxious child. I hid my anxiety and was always trying to please those around me. I was a competitive swimmer from the age of 8 and quit swimming to focus on senior high school, which combined with puberty, caused some weight gain and I was not impressed. I changed high schools three times to get into a better school close to home and used to get frustrated with myself for not achieving at the very top of my grade.
Perfectionism took hold and when a smaller friend started expressing concerns that she felt ‘fat’. I took a long hard look at myself and thought, if she is fat what must I be?! So the spiral of restricting and binging began. While this disordered eating, dieting and over exercising went on for the entirety of my time at uni, it didn’t develop into a full blown eating disorder until after uni when I broke up with my first boyfriend.
The guilt and shame I felt after this not so constructive relationship was insurmountable. I justified my disordered eating behaviours by rationalising the hurt I felt and falling into a destructive action. I thought that if someone I loved could hurt me then what was there to live for? So began the intention of toning up. I promised myself that if I had nothing else, I would have thinness, it would be my “thing” that no one could take away. I promised myself that I could stop at anytime.
After restricting led to binging, I thought purging was really the only thing I could do. I mastered this destructive art and got completely carried away in a whirlwind of violent obsession. All I thought about was weight, food, exercise. The numbers dictated everything. There were moments of euphoria, amongst constant self loathing, guilt and shame. The longer it went the less able I was to see my destructive capabilities.
Eventually, the gloss of bulimia wore off, together with the enamel of my teeth, together with my self worth. I was stripped bare of nutrients, finances, health and happiness all at once. It took me years to control and stop the cycle. I was high functioning, so luckily kept my job and managed two other relationships in that time. My relationship with the eating disorder, with bathroom cubicles and gyms impinged on the relationships I so desperately wanted to forge with others.
When recovery started I was voiceless, I couldn’t speak of what I was doing, I didn’t dare betray the disorder. It took one psychologist and a lot of art therapy to help me realise just how far along the disordered path I had taken myself. It took another psychologist, dietitian, dentist and GP to help me start to put myself together again. While I thought the pain was over once I started seeing someone for help, I never fathomed just how painful recovery would be. The eating disorder had such a grasp on me that it wasn’t just a simple matter of shaking it off, it had infiltrated nearly every aspect of my life.
I still go to therapy because I would consider myself sub-clinical now. Having recovered my body more or less, I am still working on my thinking. I can never diet again. I missed a lot of opportunities because of this disorder.
Recovery is not so glossy and rosy either, but the battle is worth it. It took years of no change, but I just kept going to therapy. I finally don’t have the obsessive thoughts of food, weight and hatred constantly plaguing me. I don’t care anymore what society says about the ideal. I no longer self harm and I am working on eliminating self sabotage. So much sadness had to come out before I could gleam wellness. But during the depths of my eating disorder, when the gloss well and truly wore off, I never imaged that I would come out the other side. But having finally clawed my way out and started to reconstruct a personal semblance of reality, I am so grateful I made it and that I am here to tell the story.