There is no recovery without self respect
Hi everyone, My name is Lauren and I have experienced 2 diagnosed eating disorders in the space of 18 months.
As a young child I grew up with many challenges, including the fear of failure, and the fear of rejection. Both seemed to come true as I always had constant pressure to do well from my close surroundings and in some cases myself. And on top of that, I lacked any true friendships and was bullied severely all through primary school based on who I was and my appearance.
From a young age I had always been highly intelligent and a high achiever. At school I was the smart one, the “Nerd”. Class work was never a problem. But social interaction was. I went to a public primary school, and I was teased for the lowest of things. All because the other students couldn’t quite process who I was or what I was capable of. On top of this, my physical appearance was very different from a lot of kids my age. During the younger years of primary school (Kindy – yr 5) this wasn’t so much a problem, but towards the end of yr 5 and coming into senior years I was a fast developer, so I wore bras and had a much more mature figure than most of the girls at school. It’s all the same in human culture, when something is different, we handle it in specific ways: a selection of us will embrace it without second thought, another selection will find ways to understand it and form opinions, but unfortunately most will find it hard to deal with, especially if it quite abruptly defies the norm, and so they become rather intimidated and defend themselves by attacking the individual to place themselves above them so they feel some form of security.
This behaviour lead to severe problems in my teen years. I wasn’t confident entering my new school, I spoke to no one at first, and I lacked any respect for myself. I even followed the same pattern of keeping my grades at an average to avoid attention. By the end of the first semester, this became a shock, as everyone around me was high achieving in their academics, and now I felt like a total idiot. I tried hard to get back on top of my performance at school, but the drive to remain unseen collided so badly with the fear of being looked down upon that I struggled and late in the year I became highly anxious and was forced to seek psychological help. The therapy continued for the rest of the year and my grades remained stagnant until the next year. I ceased all therapy and decided to attempt taking control of my life my own way. Feelings and emotions were blocked, I began starving myself during the day, but totally binge eating in the afternoon and gained considerable amounts of weight all whilst dealing with tricky relationships, teenage drama and tons of self deprication and total fear of attention.
At the end of that year, I, again, wanted to take control of my life, so I began writing dieting plans and controlling my consumption whilst setting regular exercise routines. By holidays I had lost significant weight and I was obsessed with exercise, weight and looking at myself in the mirror. This behaviour grew as my anxiety soared due to the pressure of relationships and social life got to me. I loathed myself with every perceived ‘failure’ both in numbers and life actions.
Until finally, at the beginning of last year I brought my weight to a dangerously low number and was so obsessed with every detail of my life, I was a walking robot with nothing but a demon controlling my brain. I was fanatical about cleanliness and tidiness. My school work was perfect, my organisation was perfect and my reputation was immaculate. At the end of the fourth week of Term 1 I was admitted into hospital, fed through an NGT and started a long road of mental torture, distress but most of all, self learning and growing. Even before my official diagnosis, it didn’t take me long to latch on to what the issue was and I found myself in a constant battle of wanting to recover, and not giving a damn at all. I believed that if no one gave a damn, then there was no point. I didn’t have the comfort of shoulders to cry on, nor a stable family to go home to. I didn’t have anyone to constantly remind me of how good I was or how beautiful I was. So initially I gave in. But inside, my own voice, although ignored, was still strong enough to break through the barrier of my demons and remind me of who the real enemy was. This lead to major frustration but as time went by, my voice and I both became sick and tired of the constant torture of being malnourished and re-fed, that I began restoring myself after 7 hospital admissions and 9 painful months of malnourished hell.
It wasn’t a hard process personally. I was so driven to gain weight I didn’t give a damn about what my eating disorder told me, and by the time I reached my healthy weight, I felt a sudden jolt of freedom. This ended with a crash by Christmas when Bulimia decided to take a punch at me. Psychologically, if I wasn’t able to use Anorexia to cope with my anxiety and depression, plus my lack of self love, I would use binge eating instead. But the guilt of eating too much remained, so I had to rid of it somehow. This process continued for another 3 months until finally I decided that life was no longer worth living and I attempted suicide. The admission to recover was short and sweet, but the damage was done.
To this day I struggle with medication. The thought leaves total discomfort, but that is another story. By now I had decided that vomiting was inexcusably painful and I gave up entirely.
But the binge eating I still suffer from today. Even though I don’t do it often, it still happens but it isn’t a quick fix.
Coming to understand who I am and forcing myself to love myself when I found no one else would was my biggest upgrade in life. I tell myself every day who I am, and I now look at myself and see a new individual of whom I deeply respect. I no longer doubt my capabilities but I am always reasonable. When a challenge arises, I take it and when I see something I really want, I claim it.
Recovery is NOT relapsing, recovery is NOT being surrounded by endless support. Recovery is when you finally decided that you want to take back who you are and discover your true meaning. Recovery is not giving a damn about those who don’t love you and loving yourself regardless. It doesn’t happen over night, I know that for sure, but determination is key and we all have it somewhere. I live a healthy life now and I have so much more growing to do but I am so proud of who I am and what I was born with. And on top of that, I am proud of the strength I wielded to learn to love myself and I know that one I day I will share that with my own loved ones xx