To raise awareness of Eating Disorder week I have collected others experiences of this horrific illness to help people get a better understanding and know that recovery is possible. I have so much love and respect for everyone who has contributed as it takes a lot of courage and bravery to speak so openly about something that has consumed your life. This is the reality of eating disorders. What these beautiful beings have been through is awful and may be distressing or triggering to some so please do not read o if this is the case. The aim of this blog post is to let people who are currently suffering or are recovering know that they aren’t alone and that there is a light at the end. I also want people who haven’t experienced eating disorders to try and get some understanding of the mental demons we have to face.
The following are quotes and stories from brave ED Warriors who have come forward to message me.
When I first started being bulimic, I was 12. I was made fun of constantly for being chubby or “fat” as the girls said. Food was thrown at me by people and if I offered to take someone’s lunch tray to the trash, I was made fun of for that. I read about bulimia in a teen magazine when I first heard about it. The girl in the article said she did it to lose weight and it was easy to hide. During a ruff lunch I finally left the cafeteria and went to an empty bathroom and stuck my finger down my throat. Afterwards, I washed up and no one was the wiser. During my teen years, I was caught a few times and I just said I was sick or so crap. My parents knew after awhile and didn’t bother to do much. They tried to keep me from a bathroom but they couldn’t watch me all the time. With What people said to me constantly going through my head. Each and every time I did it. My sister was the worst. Her being skinny and a cheerleader, she constantly made fun of me and made sure to rub it in my face how thin she is.
I am 28 years old and just now getting any decent help. I have to eat 5 small meals a day and take medication for my throat and nausea. It’s not that great. I fight and struggle with it every day. With my mental illness, and having an eating disorder on top of that makes life so hard. I constantly try and avoid bathrooms after meals and see a dr every few weeks for check ups. But I am starting to get better, slowly but surely.
Words hurt. Think before you say something, To that kid who is fat or that skinny girl. You never know what they are going through or have to deal with every day.
Find ways to love your body and self.
❤ be safe.
After eleven years of suffering with bulimia, feeling ‘less than’ and unworthy, I found hope and began recovery. That hope was my son. The very moment I became a mother, I felt a burning desire to be different. To once and for all make the change I’d been sitting on the bathroom floor wishing I could make for as long as I could remember. The frustration, struggle and internal war that would be fought over the next several months was almost unbearable. It was arguably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it is a daily battle that I must confront to keep that demon far, far away.
My message: YOU CAN OVERCOME. When you HATE where you are bad enough and you have a reason to FIGHT – you can overcome.
The next story details events that may be triggering and distressing to some so I urge you not to read on if this is the case.
This goes out to anyone who doesn’t think they have a real eating disorder; the ones who don’t think they are sick enough.
Eating disorders fool you, they lie and manipulate you. Leave you unsure which thought you can trust. Even now, a year a half into recovery, I have a nagging doubt in the back of my mind telling me;
“I am not qualified to talk about this.”
“I was never diagnosed with anything.”
“I never spent time in a hospital.”
“You never even lost any weight”
“You don’t know enough, you’re not smart enough, you will never be enough.”
These thoughts are toxic, and I once let them consume me. I pushed away any help because I thought I wasn’t deserving enough of assistance, I was so sure I was doing this to myself, I was in control, and only doing it for attention. Yet deep down, I knew I couldn’t stop.
I had issues with eating and self-harm from around the age of thirteen, and I struggled in silence for six years. I believe that the reason I carried my eating disorder with me for so long was because I couldn’t accept I had a ‘real’ eating disorder.
My eating disorder was really sneaky and deceptive. I would have a whole month where I was fine and eating fairly normally and the self-hatred wasn’t consuming my every thought. However, it would soon flare up and leave me incapable of doing anything but obsess over food and my body.
I am going talk you through one of my memories I have, where I was in a phase of restricting my calories, binging and purging. This cycle would repeat daily, twice sometimes and it isn’t very pleasant.
This snippet of my life may be emotive and distressing and I urge you to skip it if you feel it may cause you harm.
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It was after school one day, I hadn’t eaten most the day, and my boyfriend, (the only person who I ever told about my struggle with food) suggested I eat something. I was thrilled; I was so hungry and wanted an excuse to eat without feeling guilty. I was also annoyed at myself for wanting to cave into food that easily.
Part of me wanted to eat everything in sight and stop caring about calories and weight for a while. Part of me wanted to stubbornly refuse to eat anything, proving my strength to my eating disorder and sickness to my boyfriend.
At this moment of confusion I wanted to cry, I balled my fists, allowing my nails to dig in. The momentary pain keeping myself hatred at bay. We walked into a coffee shop and I had to decide what to buy. Soup? Sandwiches? Chocolate?
My eating disorder brain won out and I bought a small bag of popcorn, the lowest calorie food item in the shop.
We sat down. My thoughts at this point were agony, the conflict was so strong, and I was so torn, yet I kept a calm composure on the outside.
I remember opening the popcorn with shaking hands from low blood sugar and restraining myself from grabbing handfuls and stuffing my face. I actually clenched my muscles and gritted my teeth, the urge to binge was so strong. My eating disorder was screaming at me for being so weak, for wanting food so bad. It was telling me I was faking being sick in the first place, “I wasn’t ill, I was an attention seeker” “no-one with an eating disorder wants to eat this bad”.
The strongest though of all was; “if I eat this ‘normally’ I will be proving to myself and everyone else I was ‘faking’ my eating disorder”, and my eating disorder wasn’t going to let that happen.
In the end, I ate the popcorn. I put a single piece up towards my mouth, bit it in half and chewed. A sip of water and I ate the other half. I continued at this agonizing pace for the rest of the bag. It was a happy compromise. Although no-one was happy. In fact, I was miserable, the battle in my brain continued throughout. Each bite I had to sit through a mental debate. I was focused on keeping the pace I reached for each piece of popcorn even, not too fast, not too slow. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to pick the next piece up before I’d finished the first, (if I did I felt way too greedy). I had to sip water regularly, and whenever I felt like I was getting too eager for the next piece. These arbitrary rules helped me to feel in control.
Finally, the bag was empty, I felt drained. A small part of me was feeling better after having eaten, however, the self-hatred had increased, the mantra of ‘fat, fat, fat’ had started up again in my head. Worst of all the desired to binge had increased ten fold.
I took out my notebook, wrote down the calories in my journal and added up the total number for the day. It wasn’t very high, yet it was still way too much. However, my eating disorder gave my a pat on the back for doing so well and allowed myself a small amount of pride in my success.
I said goodbye to my boyfriend and headed home.
As the bus drew closer to my house the part of my brain desperate for food increased. I thought about what food I could eat. The eating disorder knocked that thought down, harshly. I planned out my next meal to the calorie, yet it seemed too much food to ruining a ‘good’ day. So I planned again, I was determined: today I would not binge.
As you can guess, that resolve crumbled as soon as I entered my house. No one was home and I’d have the house to myself for the next few hours. My brain went into panic mode. I needed food and I needed it now. Somehow I knew, I needed to eat before the eating disorder could protest too much, there was only so long I could suppress the self-hatred and guilt before I could no longer eat. I grabbed everything in sight. I chucked the pasta on the hob to boil, chips in the oven cook and a slice of bread and butter to eat in the meantime… make that three. I ate a bar of chocolate while staring the pasta and scoffed a packet of crisps before checking on my chips.
The guilt never went away, I just surpassed it enough to allow the primal part of my brain to take over. It needed food and it wasn’t listening to the screams of hatred emanating through my body.
I stuffed my face, “I was gross”. I enjoyed the feeling of food in my mouth, “I was disgusting” I felt full up but couldn’t stop. The guilt was coming back fast and I didn’t know when I’d allow myself to eat again. I forked pasta into my mouth and started to cry. Sobbing, I chewed my food faster. I truly hated every particle of my being.
I needed this food out. I deserved to purge. To throw up. I had ruined a ‘good’ day. The anger at myself boiled. I felt so out of control and frustrated. “How could I have been so stupid?” I needed this feeling to go away. I headed upstairs and leaned over the bath and purged…
Later that night I lay in bed feeling so much disgust at myself and my body I wanted to rip out of my skin. I scrolled through pictures of perfect people, with perfect bodies and perfect lives. I knew deep down that they were not perfect, they had their own demons and were unlikely to be happy. Yet I still craved their life. I grew determined to be better and to become thinner. I vowed to eat less tomorrow…
So the cycle begins again…
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I want you to note that I talk about my eating disorder voice in metaphorical terms. I never actually heard voices. This ‘voice’ was disguised as my own, as a thought. I have just found it helpful to in my recovery separate the thoughts out, to make sense of them.
I say this simply because I assumed because the eating disorder ‘voice’ was in my own voice, it was me who was speaking, and this meant it was myself causing these problems, not a mental illness. I want to stress that this was not the case.
I was mentally ill with an eating disorder.
Even now that is hard to admit, but it is time to break the cycle. There are many types of eating disorders out there, and none look the same. We need to accept that mental illness isn’t straight forward, it is complicated and sometimes even we don’t understand.
If you have any mental health issues it is always bad enough to ask for help. You are ‘sick’ enough, however, you are also brave enough to reach out and recover, because at the end of the day; enough is enough. You deserve better.
Please be sensitive to peoples feelings and only comment if it is positive or supportive ❤
Relapse does not erase your success.
I am still collecting stories throughout the week so please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contribute.
Stay strong my lovelies. I am still in recovery so please do not be frightened to talk to me if you need someone to listen who is going through a similar situation. We will recover because we are stronger than this. Free yourself and get help. Noticing the problem is the first step. Here is a list of helpful sites and please get in contact with your GP if you start to see any signs of an ED. Do not be afraid to talk openly about mental health.
Love you all ❤