Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Experience With Eating Disorders

As I was reading some old journal entries, I came across one from September 21st, 2005. I was 16, and a junior in high school at the time. In the entry, I am talking about pretty standard stuff for a 16-year old girl. The Mexico mission trip I went on with my youth group, water polo practices from 6-9am during the summer that were "ruining my life", boys, boys, and more boys, parties, my boyfriend at the time and how we became a couple, and how "this year has been a year for love & partying." But then as I flipped the page to continue reading, I was completely shocked by what I had written next...

"I decided I'm going to do something very unhealthy, I'm going to stop eating. I want to get hella skinny & w/e (whatever) so I'm going to just not eat. It won't be hard to do. I just will eat on game days cuz that's crucial. This will actually save me money too cuz I won't be spending it on food."

This blew my mind. I couldn't believe I'd come across a written account of my decision to become anorexic.

I didn't become an anorexic the summer after my junior year, but I did my senior year. I'm not sure if I stuck to my choice that summer, I don't remember sticking to it, but I do remember being overtaken by the disease my senior year. It didn't last long, maybe just a semester or so, but it came on strong. I still remember opening the fridge and looking in at the food, telling myself that I knew I needed it to live, but also knowing I didn't want it, and choosing to close the door without taking anything out. I remember loving that all my jeans were saggy in the butt because of the weight I'd lost, in spite of my boyfriend making fun of me for it, and being told by my swim coaches that I was getting ripped, because a six pack was starting to show where there hadn't been one before. And I remember lying to my parents when they asked me if I'd eaten, and making up some meal when they asked what it was I ate.

It's because of the months I spent as an anorexic that I 100% understand when people say it's a disease that takes hold of you. I was an athlete, I knew I needed to eat. Food is survival. But I could not make myself eat more than half a Power Bar at a time. I just didn't want food, I didn't care about food, and the thought of putting it in my mouth made me sick.

Weight is a huge, huge issue for people, and one of the most-talked about topics of the western world. In a world where obesity is becoming a norm, and GMOs have infiltrated most of what we eat, we're becoming even more aware of health risks, and how crucial it is to be healthy. But there is a MASSIVE difference between being aware of your lifestyle, and being obsessed over your size.

When we look in the mirror, we usually see a distorted version of ourselves. It's distorted by the preconceived notions we have about ourselves, the opinions others have flung at us our whole lives, and the images we see in the media of men and women who are supposed to embody the ideal person, and who we forget is photoshopped. So when we see ourselves, we see our flaws. When we look at a picture, we can only find what we don't like, and rarely agree with every other person who could say that we look great. We become scared of food, like it's the enemy, instead of our minds, and start to treat ourselves like rabbits or test subjects, in hopes of turning out like the people in the pages of the magazines and on TV.

I have had body issues for as long as I can remember. I have never thought of myself as thin, in spite of what everyone around me said, and what I have seen in pictures from the past. Because I played water polo for so long, year-round for half of those years, I always felt broad, big, and too strong to be a sweet little female. I figured I wasn't truly a fat person, but that I was a big girl. And that is pure insanity, because I was so skinny growing up, my grandma thought my mom wasn't feeding me when I was a little girl. I was always this tall, thin, leggy little twig of a thing, but the second I was no longer a double zero pant size, I started freaking out, and thought I was getting fat. Accepting that my fully grown and general pant size is a five or seven took forever, and my broad water polo shoulders didn't help me at all when I wanted to be thin, but had to buy large screen print tee's. (Keeping in mind this was at stores like Abercrombie, where they purposefully size their clothes smaller to avoid larger people from being seen in the brand.)

Nearly every photo I see of myself from the time I was in seventh grade to now, I look at and think how thin I was. I see a trim girl, who looks athletic, healthy, and happy. I often long for that body, and think how stinking great I looked. And that's surprising to me, because with each photo I see now and think how great of a lil bod I had, I distinctly remember seeing it during that time period and seeing nothing I liked. I thought I was "fat", and while I still don't think of myself as really fat, I sure as heck don't consider myself as thin as I'm sure I really am. Even when I hit a record low-weight for me my last year in college during water polo, I still didn't see it. I am 5' 7", my healthy weight range is from 133-138, and I was at 128lbs. My dad thought I was anemic or anorexic, all my teammates and friends were commenting on how thin I was, and all I could do is get on the scale and smile, but still not see what they did. Not, of course, until now, when I'm about 15lbs heavier, and see just how thin I was.

This issue arrises as a result of so many different things. It's a combination of our constant chase for more, something better, and what's coming next, our dissatisfaction and removal from the present and grateful state, and the fact that we literally cannot realistically live up to the images we see. Combine that with the fact that we do not see ourselves as we truly are, and you have got one messed up mind to overcome.

I do not know exactly what we can do to try and help kids, but something has to be done. We cannot continue to raise children who think less of themselves than they should, and end up with eating disorders or suffer from self-confidence issues. We need to be raising children with a little tough love, and fill their minds with a lot of self-love.

If I have a son or daughter, and they ever get to a point where they think their best solution is to stop eating, I don't know what I'd think or do. It is not okay to continue this way, people! We have got to work on addressing this issue, and slam some healthy lifestyles down! When I read that, I ached for my 16-year old self. The me that thought she wasn't thin enough, and wanted to be so skinny, she just decided not to eat anymore. And the fact that she said it wouldn't be hard, wow.

We have got to love each other more and harder than we do now. We have got to stop giving ourselves reasons to compare ourselves to others. We have got to address the fact that nearly every human in our society has these issues of self-doubt. ANAD says that up to 24 million people suffer from eating disorders.


We cannot let this continue. We cannot continue to lack love. We cannot continue to disregard ourselves, and allow others to do it too.

Love one another harder, longer, fiercer, and with everything you have got. Compliment people as often as you can, strangers and friends alike. And don't be afraid of being some bubbly weird-o, tell people they're awesome! Be bold, be beautiful, be daring, and dare to care enough about your brothers and sisters to embrace them as they are. We can make a massive difference, and we must. Why should we continue living with these destructive thoughts of "not ______ enough"? Let's choose to accept ourselves, and others, and let's choose to select a healthy, happy lifestyle!

Please reach out to anyone you know that's suffering from an eating disorder. There are people everywhere who are waiting and wanting to help. And if you yourself are, find your favorite picture of your most healthy self, and speak love to it, till you feel full of it. And then sit there in it, and know that it is you, you are it, and love and beauty is all that exists within. It is time we change this trend. It is time we start to focus on feeling good and being healthy, instead of feeling hungry and being skinny. We can do this!

Major blessings of health and healing, love & light

No comments:

Post a Comment