I’d go out into the world, put on a smile, and pretend like nothing was wrong.
My eating disorder started when I was 13.
For a combination of reasons, I felt like my life was spinning out of control and I needed something to hold on to. I thought that if I was perfect, bad things couldn’t happen to me, so I became obsessed with being perfect.
My bulimia became my way of coping with everything – if I was stressed or upset or angry, that was how I would deal with it. Then, I’d go out into the world, put on a smile, and pretend like nothing was wrong.
The things that I loved started to slip away; I became too weak to dance or play soccer, I was destroying my singing voice, my grades were dropping, and I was constantly arguing with my sister. I was pale and tired and getting intensely upset about the smallest things. I didn’t like what my eating disorder was doing to me, but I couldn’t stop. I fainted in the shower and I nearly drowned.
My parents set me up to see a psychologist, but I said that I was wasting her time because I didn’t have a problem. She just told me to call her when I was ready to get better.
When I started my final year of high school, I felt even more pressure to be perfect. I felt exhausted and fragile, like I could collapse into tears at any moment, and I started to experience panic attacks. One day, I was out shopping with a friend, and I collapsed. When the ambulance came, I was severely dehydrated, my kidneys and my heart were failing, and I ended up in intensive care. My initial plan was to get out of the hospital as soon as possible, but then I saw myself lying in a hospital bed, with an IV drip in my arm. I looked awful. I looked as empty and depleted as I felt, and for the first time, I saw just how badly I was hurting myself.
I’ll never forget that moment I saw how much of a mess I was, and how clear it was that I couldn’t pretend that I didn’t have a problem. That was when I decided to get better. I was put on a strict diet plan at the hospital, and I was heavily monitored after meals. I felt like I was losing my only way of coping, but then I noticed something; I felt stronger, happier, calmer, and more energetic. I had broken the vicious cycle, and for the first time in 5 years I wasn’t afraid of giving my body what it needed. I called back my psychologist and I told her I was ready to see her again.
I have been recovering for 3 years. I would be lying if I said that I have been completely healthy, but whenever I see myself slipping, I remember that I want to be strong and healthy and genuinely happy, and I don’t want to pretend anymore.