I HAD AN EATING DISORDER AND IT STILL “WEIGHS” ME DOWN EVERYDAY
Very few people may know this about me but when I was in my late teens to early 20’s I had an eating disorder and I still carry it with me everyday. Like so many other unanswered questions in my life I can honestly say I don’t remember how it began or as to the why but I certainly have a much deeper understanding now. While I was growing up I never had any reason to be concerned about my weight, I never seemed to question my self-esteem or self-worth and I never had an unhealthy perception of my body image either. I also thankfully never suffered any childhood trauma or felt the urge to give into peer pressure from my friends whether it was about drugs & alcohol or starving myself which can all become contributing factors in developing an eating disorder like anorexia and bulimia. Heck, even when my best friend developed an acute eating disorder a few years earlier and was hospitalized because of it, I just did what any good friend would do, I visited her as often as I could and encouraged her through her recovery.
When I reflect back now on my adolescence and teenage years (which has become a big undertaking recently) I can probably see some psychological and environmental causes forming, I mean is it just a coincidence that my eating disorder started around the same time my parents separated? Maybe, maybe not? I’ve said before that their initial separation had very little effect on me since I truly waited probably 8 years for it to finally happen so why would their pending divorce have caused my eating disorder to rear its ugly head? Could it have begun out of fear given the fact that both my parents were in a constant battle with their own weight most, if not all of my life? Maybe, maybe not? (my mother even went forward with having her stomach stapled which left irreparable internal damage and I do not recommend it to anyone). Or was it from the humiliation I felt whenever my friends came over and saw the unlimited supply of cookies, cakes and candy sprawled about our countertops or inside our overstuffed pantry which my mother had compulsively purchased each week that could have led me to become afraid of food or develop the need to binge? Maybe, maybe not? On a side note though many of my friends were actually quite envious of the endless supply of junk food they had access to in my home as their moms only kept healthy, “boring” snacks in their own homes, so I guess on a positive note, my house was always filled with lots of friends!
I may never truly understand the depths of my eating disorder (or my other mental health issues for that matter) and what actually led to my chronic dieting, my fixation with counting calories and fat content in food, my obsession with spending hours on end at the gym or my need to induce vomiting and take laxatives on a daily basis but with the help of medical intervention and weekly weigh-ins with a specialist I was able to somehow work through it. But here’s the truth, it still weighs me down each and every day and throughout the twenty-something years since then it has reappeared in my life many times and in many different ways for eating disorders are not just about starving oneself.
My weight has fluctuated up and down and then up and down some more so many times over the last twenty-something years that I have lost count as to how many fad diets I’ve tried, how many diet pills I’ve taken, how many exercise programs I’ve failed at and how many times I’ve induced vomiting or swallowed 50 to 100 laxatives at one time. Since my illness began four years ago my weight issues have only added to my struggles with anxiety and depression as I had been prescribed over twenty different antidepressants in a two year span causing me to gain close to 100 pounds. When I made the decision to stop taking medication because it was doing more harm to my body than good, I effortlessly dropped more than half the weight in a short period of time but I still have a long way to go and every morning when I look in the mirror my eating disorder is staring right back at me begging me to take another bottle of laxatives or starve myself just one more time. And lets not forget how my negative self-image caused me to throw out more than half my wardrobe this past spring (see blog May 27, 2018) and now with an upcoming Simcha added into the mix I am left with the exhausting task of finding something to wear.
The question is can I find something to wear to cover up my low self-esteem, my lack of self-confidence, my poor body image or my absence of self-worth and if so can I get one in every colour?