I honestly don’t remember my life before anorexia. I try and think back to when I was in elementary school, eating peanut butter and jellies, sipping on Yoohoo, laughing with friends, etc. I didn’t think about the amount of calories in those two chunky tablespoons of peanut butter, or the refined starch in fluffy white bread. I just opened my mouth, bite after bite, and swallowed. No guilt, no shame, no anxiety.
If only I could rewind back to those precious, carefree moments. I can’t tell you the last time I sat down to eat and didn’t completely fall into a whirlwind of frightening thoughts: Is this really three ounces of chicken? Will drinking more coffee help me burn this up? Should I just spit the rest up into a napkin? Every day and every meal, I go through hell. I’m constantly questioning whether I should eat, what I should eat, when I should eat, etc. It’s a deadly circle that consumes 80-90% of my days.
Throughout this past year, I have surprisingly let myself open up more about my eating disorder. However, it is still my little secret that I want to hold onto forever, as if it’s my child. Whenever I let people in about this, I almost instantly regret it. Cause for every caring, loyal, and trustworthy person out there, there is a heartbreaking and selfish prick who will do anything in their power to break you apart. It can be anything from not being friends with you anymore, or exposing your little cherished secret to the world. So my whole life I have tried to protect myself from letting anyone in, keeping quiet, and trying to blend in as easy as possible.
I find myself doing things that would let people believe I eat like a normal person. I Instagram pictures of fatty, gluttonous meals like burgers and ice cream that my brothers ordered, trying to get people to believe it was something I ate. If someone hands me a piece of cake at a party, I gladly accept instead of drawing the attention toward me by declining. After they walk away, that plate is headed straight to the trash can. I talk about going out to eat and trying new restaurants, like “Hey guys Restaurant Week is coming up!” Meanwhile in my head I stress about this for weeks at a time; the same type of stress that overwhelms me going on first dates. Like I have to order something that doesn’t make me appear like the “salad girl” but I can’t get something that I’m going to mentally torment myself throughout the whole dinner like lasagna. As much as I feel flattered getting asked out on a date, I constantly struggle declining because of my eating disorder.
Besides the amount of stress I go through, I sometimes wonder if the stress that it delivers to my family is worse. They are in a constant state of worry with me. I fainted in front of them while eating breakfast in Florence, practically ruining the adventurous day we had ahead of us. During my soccer trip to London, I think I managed to consume 400 calories a day with at least two hours of exercising. My mom always has to asks me if I’m ‘regular’ or if I let myself to skip a day at the gym. My mom is the strongest person I know, and I’ve only seen her cry four times in my life. One of them was talking to me about my anorexia, and how terribly severe it has gotten. It’s one of those things that you rather stab yourself in the stomach than see a loved one cry in front of your eyes.
It’s actually bizarre because I know I’m skinny. People think that anorexics look in the mirror and see a fat person. I have never once seen someone that looked fat or even appeared overweight. I look at in the mirror and just feel disappointed. I see skinny, but not skinny enough. I look pretty, but not pretty enough. I’ve battled with anorexia for almost 10 years now, and I know every psychological analysis out there: “anorexics aren’t afraid of gaining weight, they are afraid of losing control,” “anorexics don’t hate food, they actually love food,” etc. I know what the disorder is all about, and it has nothing to do with food. Food is just something we have control over when life throws you things you can’t control like sick relatives, shitty friends, or a bad economy. When you know that you can at least have control over your weight, life seems a little more tolerable. Yet in the end, it only makes everything darker.
I hope that one day I can sit down to a meal and not worry about thinking what it will do to my body. I hope that one day I can wake up and not tempt myself to step on a scale and cringing at the number that appears before me. I hope that one day I can go out with friends and binge on pizza and enjoy it instead of throw it up hours later. I hope that one day I will overcome my eating disorder. I hope one day my mind becomes free.
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