Written by Lori Covey
The complexity of an eating disorder is so much more vast than many believe.
For me, I have gone through many stages on my journey to beat this disease and I still don’t even understand the complexity of it all.
It all started when I was in high school. At first, I didn’t even know I had a problem. I slowly started eating less and less, while working out more obsessively. I was losing weight at a ridiculous speed and didn’t even notice. People made comments to me all the time about how “little” I looked, but I truthfully couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see it because I had a serious body dysmorphia illness.
The way people would spotlight my eating habits and weight loss made me more self-conscious than I was before.
I felt pressured to eat larger portions in order to get friends and family off my case. I felt like I was being punished. I was so concerned with what people thought about the food on my plate (I wanted them to think I didn’t have a problem) that I began binging in public; this is what brought on my bulimia.
Once I started eating again (to please others), I couldn’t starve myself anymore… so I had to make myself throw up the food. My bulimia lasted for an upwards of three years, until I finally realized I had a real problem. I wanted to get better, but I was so ashamed that I couldn’t tell anyone what I had been doing all these years. I tried to help myself, and force myself to eat without throwing up, and it really did work. But not for long. I thought I was “healed” because I wasn’t physically struggling with an ED, but mentally I was far from healed.
Mentally I was still so sick.
I still constantly thought about my body and obsessed over my weight. Whether it was an obsession with weighing myself on my scale, an obsession with eating super healthy or an obsession with working out, I was still struggling with body image.
What people don’t understand is that physical eating disorders are just as serious as mental eating disorders. I thought I was in recovery because I wasn’t forcing myself to throw up anymore and I ate three meals a day, but my mental state wasn’t in recovery at all.
In college, I started to get really sick, but not in the way you may think. I was having severe acid reflux, horrible stomach pain and slow digestion. I knew in the back on my mind that it was probably from the throwing up, but I wasn’t ready to heal yet, so I didn’t tell anyone I was in chronic pain. It finally got so bad that I had to go to the doctor and tell my parents the truth.
I finally started to open up to people I trusted and got help from the professionals. Talking it out and organizing the “whys” really helped me better understand myself and this disease.
If I’m being honest with you all… I’m not completely healed yet.
I’m working on it, I’m getting there, but I’m not there yet. I relapsed pretty badly over the holidays, and that showed me just how broken I still am. Now, I know that doesn’t sound encouraging, but I did learn a lot from it.
I learned that I must forgive myself. I learned that I must be gracious with myself and give myself credit for how far I’ve come. Yes, I relapsed. But that doesn’t define me or my progress. Eating disorders are hard. They take time. It’s an uphill battle that we must face every day.
If you surround yourself with positive people, seek counseling, remind yourself that you’re beautiful and this doesn’t define you, you can get better. You may fall, but you can always get back up again.