I’d spent the last few months obsessing over eating disorders, I loved everything about them, nothing had ever appealed to me quite as much as this secret club of power and control. Staying up late at night to read anorexia news stories and browse pro ana websites became habitual, I would dabble in the art of fasting and research calorie contents of almost every food I could think of. Often in the morning I’d grab my iPad and there would still be a page up about a pregnant anorexic woman who struggled to eat right for her unborn child and I’d feel a pang of what I can only liken to shame, this was my darkest secret and desire, I was in love with anorexia.
It’s often hard to tell if you truly hate your body or if you’re just like every other teenage girl, I’m still not sure what category I fall under. But I can safely say that when I started my twisted love affair with eating disorders I thought I was the fattest, ugliest, manliest, least sexy girl I knew, and I was prepared to do anything to change that.
Of course I still hadn’t mastered the skill of an eating disorder, but I wanted to with an alarming passion. My closest friend at the time, who weighed 50kg at near on 6ft, knew all the tricks to succeeding at my new “hobby” however I never dared ask her for help and instead I’d observe her eating habits as often as I could, at weekends and school holidays. Plain toast for breakfast, miso soup with spinach leaves for lunch and cuppa soup and tuna for tea. I envied the simplicity of her life, routine, stability, control. She’d make me a bowl of pasta and I’d eat a few mouthfuls before declaring I was full and didn’t feel like eating although she rarely acknowledged it, as she sat with her back against the radiator in her room sipping boiling soup and watching The Simpsons.
I spent a whole year obsessing and dieting and weaning myself off of crisps and onto broccoli, but nothing seemed to work. I’d eat healthy foods, I’d fast for 2 days, I’d whisper fat to myself as I walked down the street but it was nothing compared to the girls online I admired so much. They owned everything that I could only borrow for a few days a week only to cave in and binge on pringles and kinder eggs. I read blogs in which girls described their eating disorder “talking to them” inside their head, telling them not to eat, that they’re worthless and giving them tips to keep going. Other girls claimed they had no desire to eat for the most of the time, that food repulsed them and they wanted nothing to do with it. Countless blogs told stories of school girls watching their friends eat greasy pizza or cheese sandwiches, “I sound like a bitch and I do love her but peperoni?! Why would anyone want to put that in their body, pure fat” All of these stories from other girls confirmed what I was most afraid of, I still didn’t have a successful eating disorder.
By this point I had lost maybe 5lbs at most. My constant binges and fasting done me no good, it’s almost impossible to lose weight without exercise and I couldn’t bring myself to do much more than hour long walks around my town with a friend. That month I started smoking because I heard it supresses appetite and I started to do crunches and squats every night before bed, not many but enough to make me feel like less of a failure.
After all this time I was yet to calculate my BMI, I was terrified to, mainly because in the last BMI check I had done at school when I was 11 years old my teacher told me I was overweight and I cried in front of my favourite teaching assistant. Tragic. I’m not sure what brought on the sudden urge to check my BMI, perhaps I thought the nightly exercise routine was enough to merit some significant weight loss. I remember the night so very clearly, I went to bed early but didn’t sleep and when the time reached 12am it was Christmas Eve. I stayed up ridiculously late, I nearly didn’t type “bmi calculator” into google, I nearly turned my laptop off and went to sleep. “170cm, 77kg” I closed my eyes as I clicked calculate, I knew I was fat but I thought I would have made progress from being an overweight 11 year old. I opened my eyes. “Extremely overweight.”
What happened next is sort of a blur, I know I cried and I know I screamed silently under my breath more times than I care to remember, I know I scratched my fat thighs with my nails repeatedly and I know that I punched myself in the stomach as hard as I could bring myself to. I’m not even sure why I was shocked, it wasn’t as if I looked in the mirror before that night and saw a beautiful, skinny, happy girl, it was just that before that night I looked in the mirror and I’d notice that my hair looked better than usual that day, or that my eyeliner was particularly neat. I saw that fat, but I never really saw the fat.
Downstairs I knew there were chocolates and mince pies and crisps and sweets. I was 20 hours or so into a fast at this point and I was starving. If I was this upset for any other reason I would have raided my kitchen and binged for an hour straight, but this was different. I could already feel a change within me. I whispered “I’m so hungry” to myself between desperate sobs and almost immediately and without thought I’d say in my head “no you’re not you fat piece of shit” I happily resisted the food downstairs, I truly didn’t want it after only ten minutes of thinking about it. As soon as I’d stopped crying I completed A 10 minute “intense cardio workout” and I looked at myself in the mirror, losing track of time as I saw the actual fat under my skin, I could see clearer than anything else in my room, disgusting, yellow, rancid fat.
It was 6am by the time I went to sleep and when I woke at about midday I wasn’t hungry. I had no desire to eat, I walked into the kitchen and the food made me feel sick. It was Christmas in a matter of hours and the thought of a huge roast which would usually make my stomach scream with desire made me want to throw up there and then. A few days passed and I ate very little and it was easy, I exercised more than I ever had and I saw it as a game, I wanted to stop doing star jumps but my body and my brain were trapped in a game of willpower, my brain would eventually lose but it put up a good fight. At night I’d talk to myself in my head telling myself how I shouldn’t be proud, this was nothing yet, I was still extremely overweight.
I had everything those girls had and it felt wonderful for a while. Then it started to scare me, and now it’s just there and I can’t stand it. I am a classic example of the girl you don’t want to be, drawn in my the “glamor” of eating disorders, listening to none of the warnings, striving to have a disease that can at least take away your friends and social life and at most kill you. You’ll kid yourself that you don’t need friends, they get in the way of your goals and set you back with lunches out and junk food at sleepovers. Besides, your eating disorder is your best friend right? You’ll feel alone at times but you are never alone with anorexia, I wish I could be the girl I was when I first developed my crush on this lifestyle because honestly, this abusive relationship will kill me if we don’t break up soon.