Spoon was created to be a food network for college students to intelligently discuss and share tips about eating in college. We’ve covered fun topics ranging from from Chipotle hacks to next-level microwave mug recipes. But this week, we’re taking on a more serious note in an attempt to spark conversations about that people aren’t as willing to discuss.
This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. It’s a movement dedicated to raising the level of public understanding of and access to resources about an often stigmatized mental health disease. It’s all about giving a voice to a silent monster—a monster that comes in all sizes and shapes. So we asked you, our readers, to share your raw, honest experiences with eating disorders to show those currently struggling that they aren’t alone.
The responses poured in. We decided to release them, unedited, in three parts to preserve their integrity and sincerity. On Monday, we posted part one. On Tuesday, we posted part two. This is the third and final installment.
Here are your stories.
I have been dealing with a combination of binge-eating and bulimia for a few years, and it’s just getting worse.
I really want to stop binge-eating, and I have done so much research and tried almost every tactic (distractions, exercise, drinking water or tea, eating portion-sized snacks etc.), but nothing has worked yet. All of my willpower breaks down whenever I get the strong urge to binge.
I can’t see a therapist and there’s no way to get outside help or support. My parents think eating disorders are stupid and don’t believe in them. They tell me it’s not possible to be unable to control your eating. They also don’t believe me when I tell them that I make myself vomit. It doesn’t help that my mom always tries to make me eat more food and says I’m dumb or stupid when I don’t want to eat something that she offers.
The only thing that I think may have some sort of effect on my parents is if I end up in the hospital from taking too many drugs. At this point, I’m actually hoping this will happen.
I really don’t know what to do anymore and I’m desperate to end this cycle. Hopefully someone out there has a good strategy.
It sucks to be a feminist with an eating disorder.
I know that the societal ideal of “beauty” is a Western patriarchal construction. I fervently support adipositivity and Health at Every Size; I’m conscious of thin privilege; I’m nauseated by the daily indoctrination of our young girls into the beauty-industrial complex. I truly believe that every body is beautiful.
My fall came later than most—up until the beginning of junior year, I had eaten as I pleased, worked out when I felt like it and taken my speedy metabolism for granted. It wasn’t until I was sitting at the breakfast table one day, eating my Kashi GoLean, that my dad turned to me and said, “You’ve gained weight,” in a tone that should have been reserved for something more like, “Your baby puppy was just eaten by a pack of wolves, your mom has cancer and also the house is on fire.”
I blinked fearfully at him and he continued.
“I’m sure you’ve noticed, anyways, but you can really see it, especially in your face now. I’ve been watching what you eat, and I think we need to make some changes.”
Then he pulled out a notebook—a notebook!—that exhaustively tracked my daily diet and caloric intake. Circled at the bottom were some figures and phrases like “too much” or “no Oreos.” He started to explain what he thought to be the problem: too much peanut butter on my sandwiches, three cookies a day, spaghetti for dinner.
I was swimming three hours a day, I choked out, but he had already accounted for that. I cut him off midsentence, ran up the stairs in my sweater and jeans, and weighed myself for the first time in years. The astronomical number I saw made me dizzy. I ran out the door, cried in the BioLife parking lot for half an hour, then went to school.
That week, in protest, I threw away my sandwiches and picked at the berries on top of my cereal. I would only eat three bites of dinner (steamed fish) before pointedly excusing myself, only to collapse into tears once I reached my room. Eventually my dad caught on (with some help from my indignant mother) and wrote me an apology note, which I spat on before throwing it away.
But time and the stresses of junior year eventually pushed weight almost completely out of my mind. I began lifting weights, and discovered muscles where I didn’t know I had any. I was proud of my strength, and I ate to support it.
The turn into Eating Disorder Land wasn’t an impulsive decision, but a slide so gradual that I barely noticed what was happening. I can’t pinpoint a beginning, but only moments—the green smoothie that I choked down when my mom told me it would make me skinny; the protein bars that she brought from work that replaced my lunches; the miles on the treadmill that inched up and up.
It was the summer before senior year, and I was consumed by the college admissions process (its own type of hell). I had to be perfect. My transcript, extra-curriculars, ACT score—those were all under my control. Now I just had to control my body, and maybe then, I would be worthy of the Ivy League.
My body was an exquisite equation to solve: x calories in, y calories out, square the carbohydrates and multiply to find the miles I had to run; integrate to decide whether or not I could have that rice cake; simplify to fewer meals a day, maybe subtract one if I’m feeling tough. My body’s poetry was gone, replaced by unyielding calculations, all driven by the pure rush of seeing that number on the scale creep lower and lower.
I began cutting out the variables. No meat, of course, and no white flour either. No added sugar or chemicals. Eventually, no cheese, then no eggs, and what the heck, no dairy at all. Nothing pre-packaged or shelf-stable, or god forbid, from a fast food restaurant. Nutrition labels were my literature.
I also got a perverse pleasure from watching others eat. Food Network, SeriousEats, any food blog or TV show, it didn’t matter. I felt virtuous, pure, floating in my health bubble above the fry-eating plebes. I would take secret joy in people telling me “geez, eat a burger.” Probably most satisfyingly, my dad told me I was looking “a little too thin.” “Showed you,” I thought.
Eating was no longer a source of enjoyment for me. It was a never-ending trial. I couldn’t go out to eat because nothing on the menu fit my diet; I couldn’t eat the food my friends’ families made because it didn’t come with a nutrition label. I would crumble into tears when my parents would suggest an Italian restaurant—the thought of putting so many carbs into my body made me physically ill.
I would exhaustively plan the day’s intake (in the parlance of Tumblr ED bloggers, another vice) and break down emotionally when I strayed. After checking the saturated fat content of a seemingly innocuous bowl of tomato soup from Perkins, I cried for an hour.
I would binge, of course—my willpower wasn’t infallible. The jars of peanut butter and bags of cereal didn’t count when they were consumed at midnight, standing up, with no one watching. I would eat myself into a pit of self-loathing frequently, waking up the next morning with a hangover of hatred.
My life also became a series of treadmill runs only briefly separated by homework and sleep. Exercise was my first priority, and I had to meet my mile quota every day or I had failed. I skipped out on time with friends, neglected my schoolwork, stayed up late trying to get those thousands of steps in.
Unfortunately, it was working. I was thrilled with my progress and the way that the scale always seemed to dip downward. My old favorite jeans bagged and my belt didn’t have a tight enough hole, so I gleefully bought new clothes in ever-smaller sizes.
But as I look back at the pictures from my lowest weight, I see what others saw. The dark rings under my eyes that didn’t go away with sleep. The fistfuls of my once-thick hair that would fall out in the shower. The hip bones and ribs that made it painful to sleep on my side. The thigh gap, my pride and joy, that mirrored the schism in my mind. I was cold all the time, and not because of the polar vortex.
Just like there was no sudden turn into orthorexia, there is no airlift out of it. My body rebelled first, finally cracking under the stress of the starve-binge-run cycle. My weight began to climb back upward, to my great horror. But it was okay, I reasoned, maybe I did need to gain some weight.
I read bloggers like Isabel Foxen Duke, who promised that my relationship with food could be fixed, and the Militant Baker, who taught me the mantra “my body is beautiful, my mind is brilliant” that I use daily to silence negative body-thought. I began to eat more—binges, probably, but I tried to silence the voice of loathing as best I could. I thought about the isolation that came from my eating disorder, of the stress and pain that I needed to leave behind, of the time and energy that I had wasted trying to perfect my equation.
I don’t want to make this sound like a gift-wrapped hell-and-back fable, because truthfully, I’m still halfway in hell. Veganism is a crutch, something that waiters and relatives will understand when I can’t explain my deep-seated fear of cheese. It has come to be something that I believe in morally, but it is also my security blanket. I eat much more than I did before, but I still restrict anything I deem “unhealthy.” I can’t remember the last time I had dessert.
After an overuse injury crippled my leg, I’ve been working to integrate exercise back into my life as enjoyment, not punishment. I no longer break down when I fail to finish a run. Sometimes I manage to forgive myself.
I’m now back to the midway point of my high and low weights—or at least I think so, since I haven’t weighed myself in a week. I shudder to think about the time when I would let the morning number on the scale dictate how I carried myself that day. But I know that if I don’t keep my guard up, I’ll quickly be swept away by restrictive behaviors. An eating disorder is a war, not a battle. It’s not a chapter in a book; it’s ink spilled on every page that I will have to try and ignore for the rest of my life.
As much as I hate the constant bloating, the feeling of fullness and the tightening jeans, I’m happy that I chose recovery. My ED will not be my legacy as a woman, as a friend, as a student, as a daughter, as a human being.
As Bon Iver sings:
“This is not the sound of a new man or crispy realization
It’s the sound of the unlocking and the lift away
Your love will be
Safe with me”
I wrote this last May. As I re-read this evening, it felt like re-visiting places in my mind that I hadn’t been in a while—now cobwebbed, murky, but still so there. It’s triggering, but in a strangely good way. I remember the darkness, the hopelessness, the never-ending self-loathing, and I know now that I can never—will never—go back there.
Of course I still have bad moments: times when the old voices manage to creep up high enough to whisper their hateful monologues, when an unflattering photo will send me into a tailspin, when I still close my eyes when I see mirrors. But now that I’m in my second semester of college, I feel a lightness that has nothing to do with a number on a scale (which, by the way, I haven’t stepped on in almost a year!). Recovery saved my life. If you’re reading this and relate to anything I’ve written, today is the day to start getting better.
Two days ago, as I was blissfully devouring some chai spiced ice cream with my friends, I thought: what would my old ED self think? And then I finished that damn ice cream, and it was cold and creamy and sweet and spicy and delicious, and my friends laughed.
And I thought: this is living.
By nature I like to be in control—I’m well aware that most people do.
And, like most people, my sense of self-control used to become just a little bit unbalanced when it had to do with proving my strength. I had unbounded pride for my reputation as the girl who never quit, who never gave up, who carried things out until the end. Disturbingly, I was even proud of myself for refusing to give up my anorexia and compulsive exercising, even when it landed me in the hospital for two months, with extensive treatment for another three months.
That was quite a wake-up call.
Twenty-four hours a day, I was suffocated: by the confining walls and doors of the treatment centers, by my family’s pleading and by my own conscious already straining from the suffering I had caused my loved ones, as they all pressured me to give up everything I had worked on for an entire year. I would not relent; I was beyond the point of simply turning around and walking out. Nevertheless, by the end of those five months, I had quit my deadly habits, and had shushed that cruel voice incessantly dictating that I keep torturing myself.
With those obsessions and thoughts expelled from my brain, I adjusted my vocabulary accordingly in order to keep them from coming back. Before this ordeal, I thought of the term “quitting” negatively, so afterwards I deleted it from my mental dictionary and assigned a new one to replace it: “balancing benefits.”
That is, to realize when pursuing a goal becomes blind obsession, and then gathering the strength to let it go. Having accomplished this incredibly difficult and contradictory task of disciplining myself to not discipline myself, I truly feel in control.
What is control? Control is asking your soccer coach to sit out when you feel faint from exhaustion. Control is asking your teacher for help when you don’t understand a math problem, not staring at it for a full hour until tears of frustration swirl the numbers into a giant web. Control is setting down your bag after you come home from school or work on Friday and going out with your friends, enjoying yourself after a monstrously overloaded week. People with eating disorders can’t give themselves this kind of freedom, and their inability to do this comes from forgetting the incredibly important duty all of us have to love and cherish ourselves.
By nature I like to be in control—I’m well aware that most people do. But I have proved my self-control not by demanding unreasonable, insane expectations of myself, but by deciding to pursue those expectations that will heighten my own self-worth. This newfound power has given me the ability to apply that powerful word, “quitting,” to just one last aspect of my life.
I will never quit being myself for the sake of proving others, or even myself, of my strength as a good, hard-working person. I already know I am, and if other people do not, then it is their problem to change how they see the world.
Control is knowing to prioritize the truly important things in life—family, friends, health—above those that endow a temporary sense of foolish pride.
I developed anorexia toward the end of my junior year.
I did not realize I had an eating disorder and repeatedly insisted I was just being “very healthy.” Unfortunately, our culture encourages and often applauds behaviors, such as restricting and body policing, which are disordered. My peers complimented me freely on my weight loss and avoidance of food. I felt constantly scrutinized and became paranoid that everyone would notice if I gained weight.
Several months later, when I was visibly underweight, my friends and family began voicing their concerns. I was depressed, losing hair, constantly nauseated and deeply in denial. I felt anxious every day, cried on the way to class and was incapable of remaining a student leader. Fearful of giving up what I had worked so hard for, I tried to recover alone. I forced myself to eat foods that paralyzed me with fear. I tried to be vulnerable, but I had lost the ability to recognize and voice what I was feeling.
When I confided in friends, I felt no attachment to the words that left my mouth. Finally, the last semester of my senior year, I said, “I think I have an eating disorder.” I dropped out to enter treatment at a hospital.
After more than a year of therapy, questioning and doubt, I am recovered and whole. I had used my eating disorder to suppress the trauma of being sexually assaulted and to silence my inner emotional turmoil. I had believed that be accepted, I needed to look a certain way and downplay my emotions. In treatment, I let go of the ideas I had about who I should be.
I now recognize the importance of sharing what I feel, and I am no longer feel ashamed about who I am or what I’ve been through. I graduated and work with children. I feel present instead of eternally preoccupied. And I can sit down to dinner and eat an entire flavorful and delicious meal, thinking only of how good it tastes.
–University of California, Berkeley
I thought there was something wrong with me.
I wasn’t thin enough, I wasn’t pretty enough. I was 14.
I would go days, barely eating anything at all. I would workout once a day, sometimes twice. I was miserable, yet I felt like I needed to act perfect and most importantly, to LOOK perfect. I didn’t see myself the way others saw me.
We live in a very judgmental world, and at 14 years old, you are most vulnerable to feeling like you are being judged by everyone around you. Although it is hard to do, I hope that one day society realizes that it is completely okay to not look like the models on TV or in magazines. It is okay to look the way you do.
You need to embrace yourself and who you are.
You need to live each day happy and enjoy everything that you have. Your body is perfect just the way it is, and don’t pay any attention to those who think otherwise.
I had a slight binge disorder for about a year.
It really took a toll on me mentally, because I was dealing with a lot of other things in my life at that point. I chose to deal with by myself because I didn’t know how to confide in others.
So, at the worst point, I was starving myself, then binging and cutting myself, and when the binging was really bad, I would make myself throw up. I was feeling like I wasn’t satisfied with anything about myself or my life.
And it’s kind of an odd problem to have, because during a binge, I wanted to stop, but at the same time I couldn’t make myself want to stop. That perpetuated alot of unnecessary negativity towards myself.
But at the end of the year, I had enough. I cut off toxic relationships and was able to focus on trying to stop binging and restricting, and I did it! I’m even losing the weight I gained during that time.
In the end, I learned to not compromise myself for people who come to me solely for their own gain.
I think something people don’t realize is that eating disorders don’t just fall under one category.
Eating disorders develop for a variety of reasons and they affect every single aspect of your life from that point on.
My eating disorder rose from a need for control, a hatred for my body, a desire to fit in. It affects me when I’m spending time with family, when I’m asked out on dates, when I’m sitting alone studying and all I can concentrate on is food. I no longer “look” sick, but recovery is a life-long process that you fight for everyday.
But I’ve finally gotten to a point where I can thank my disorder for forcing me to strive for balance and self-acceptance daily, and for reminding me to be kind and caring to everyone no matter their situation. Because we all struggle in one way or another.
It started freshman year of college.
Well, actually, probably senior year of high school. Everyone was getting rejection or acceptance letters from all the colleges they applied to. With all the talk about college, the “Freshman 15” came up a lot.
As you probably know, it’s common for college students to gain weight their first year of school. Being away from home and having the freedom to eat pizza/midnight cookies/ice cream whenever you want—that freaked me out. I was a normal weight. I didn’t want to gain fifteen pounds!!
When I got to college, I had an unlimited meal plan. The dining hall had tons of stuff to choose from, including cookies and ice cream at all hours of the day. The first couple of months I ate pretty normally, but one day I started worrying about getting fat.
I worried my clothes didn’t fit right.
This is when I started calorie counting. It quickly became an obsession.
I did my own research online about how many calories someone needs everyday. There are so many crap websites telling people that if they want to lose weight they need to eat a certain amount of calories. Little did I know then, that was completely false.
I counted every little thing that I ate. I started getting super anxious about food in any form. I lost a lot of weight and didn’t notice at all. My clothes were baggy, but I never thought much of it. I saw some kids that went to my high school, and they all told me, “Keep up the good work, you look awesome!”
Clearly, I thought to myself, I am doing something right.
When I went home for spring break that year, my family picked me up from the bus stop. I was cold (I was always cold now) so I was wearing big sweatshirt and jeans which may have been my way to subconsciously hide my weight loss.
My mom made chicken pot pie for dinner the first night I came home (it was my favorite).
I ate so much I thought I was going to bust open. I started crying because I thought I was going to get fat from just that one meal. It was like all my hard work was being poured down the drain.
My family was in shock. They didn’t understand what was going on. I pulled myself together and apologized, said I was just really tired from a stressful semester.
Later that night, I changed into my pajamas (gym shorts and a t-shirt) and I went to go say goodnight to my mom.
She looked at me, her eyes widened and she told me to go weigh myself RIGHT NOW.
My face was so hot. I started to get really nervous. I didn’t know what to do so I ran to the bathroom before she could follow, weighed myself and stared at the scale in shock. It couldn’t be right, so I weighed myself again and continued to stare, unmoving.
I had lost so much weight in the three months since I had last weighed myself. How could this be???
My mom came in and I quickly stepped off the scale so she couldn’t see. She asked me how much I weighed. I lied. I didn’t want her to freak out even more.
She got tears in her eyes and calmly said she was making a doctor’s appointment. I adamantly told her I was totally fine! She didn’t not agree.
Skipping through the next events: I went to the doctor’s office. She told me I was way underweight and that I needed to gain weight immediately. I told her I would.
I went back to school and continued calorie counting. I tried to eat more. It wasn’t enough, because I was too afraid I was eating too much.
I would walk up the stairs, my heart would be pounding and I’d have to sit down for a few minutes. My hair was falling out more than it ever had. My clothes didn’t fit. I had no energy for anything. I would sit in my room and do homework. I had maybe four friends I would talk to weekly.
I still thought I was fine.
I went home for summer and my mom was determined to make me gain weight.
I look back at it now, and she must have been so scared for me. I look at the few pictures I have from my freshman year and I look scary sick. No color in my face, tired, literally skin and bones.
I was having anxiety attacks whenever I thought I ate too much.
My mom insisted I go to therapy, so I started going.
After a few sessions, the therapist told me point blank that I had anorexia nervosa. I didn’t believe her at all. I knew I was fine.
My birthday is August 2nd. I didn’t want to do much except just have a fun, relaxing day, so I went shopping with my family. While we were out and about, we stopped at Steak n’ Shake because it was one of my favorite places.
I was inwardly freaking out. SO MANY CALORIES. But I kept it to myself, I knew it would upset everyone else. However, when they brought out an ice cream sandwich at the end, singing happy birthday, I kinda lost it. I didn’t want to eat it. It was too much.
I went in for my yearly physical in August, right before school. My doctor looked at my chart and said I was still way too underweight.
HOW COULD THAT BE??? I felt like I was eating so much.
She said that I had to keep going to therapy when I’m up there and that if I don’t gain weight by the beginning of November (my next appointment) I wasn’t allowed back to college. She said she would send me to an in-patient clinic until I got better.
That shocked the crap out of me. I was now completely determined to beat this.
It was now my mission to gain weight. I was still calorie counting. I couldn’t break the habit.
I was going to therapy and seeing a nutritionist every week. I didn’t tell any of my friends.
I told myself everyday that I was beautiful and tried to integrate myself into the college student body more. I started talking to more people, got more involved and struggled along. I literally worked everyday, fighting my mind in calorie counting and thinking I would get fat by eating foods that people normally ate.
It was not easy. Without the unfailing support of my family, my friends, my therapist, and my nutritionist I could have died. It took me two years to get over the calorie counting obsession, and I still find myself doing it unconsciously.
This past summer, my mom and I started “clean eating,” which meant very little pre-packaged food. She had me looking at ingredients in things, rather than calories. We made everything we made for the family. This gave me a sense of control over what I was eating. I knew that I putting good things into my body. This helped me worry less about calories and more about the GMOs, chemicals and unnatural ingredients put in so many foods sold in America.
I am now an avid healthy clean-eating foodie and I love making and eating my own food.
I still struggle with my eating disorder and my lack of self-esteem, but now I know that I will not get fat from one meal. I allow myself to eat out with friends and I make my own food—and it’s darn good. I eat way more. I am normal weight. I am happy. I go out and I am a total social butterfly. I now try to help as many people as I can to understand that food is not the enemy and that calorie counting is not the answer.
Eating disorders are one of the hardest things to “get over,” if one ever truly does. It takes immense support on all sides to get over the mountain of disordered thinking/eating and back into “normal-ville.”
Many times, these disorders stem from having the feeling of not living up society’s standards of beauty. I want to ensure that every person knows they are beautiful and worthy of love. Forget society’s views of beauty, they’re screwed up.
Beauty is everyone and everywhere.
I know this was super long and I’m sorry. I could have totally written another million words, but I tried to condense it as much as I could. I want to do as much as I can to help those who are struggling like I did.
–University of Florida
I’m gonna make this short.
Even though I have never experienced anything like anorexia, bulimia, obesity, etc., I understand what it feels like to hate your body.
I have a really odd relationship with food: I love it but I hate it. A lot of the time my mood depends on what I have consumed. I weigh myself multiple times each day, and if I’m over my average, I isolate myself and become depressed; if I am under my average, I cheer for joy and go eat a pint of ice cream.
I don’t like eating out because whenever I go to a restaurant I feel as if my body is enlarging with every bite I take. I don’t know if this is because people would make fun of my weight back before I reached puberty or if this is a general part of growing up as a girl in a society where certain body images are praised.
But what I do know is that it sucks.
An Open Letter To My Eating Disorder:
When I began my recovery, I was so angry at myself for letting you in and allowing you to take root in my mind. I was disappointed in myself for not seeking help earlier, and I was ashamed of the thought that I had let you hold the reins of my life. You took so much from me: confidence, happiness, freedom. And I thought I could never get those things back.
But I did.
What I have learned in recovery is it was not my fault that I fell prey to this illness. But I have to remember that you were just that: an illness. Not a choice. And that’s what I want people to understand about you.
You are a disease that strikes even the brightest. You do not define the person. You are something that can be killed. And in dying, your victims rise again, stronger, maybe a bit scarred, but stronger nonetheless.
Even though you almost sent me to an early grave at seventeen, you were my best teacher. You taught me that I am worth fighting for and that I am so much stronger that I could ever know. And you taught me, perhaps most importantly, the electric power of compassion.
Eating disorders and other mental illnesses are often invisible, but that does not mean that someone is not suffering. Compassion has allowed me to reach out to others who have struggled with similar diseases, such as bulimia.
Judgment does nothing but drive someone deeper into the throes of their illness, but compassion can coax even the weariest souls into the light of freedom.
So thank you, Anorexia, for showing me all that I have to live for by nearly killing me.
A healthy, happy human
P.S. A note to current suffers and to those who have lost loved ones to eating disorders: those who are still ill or if someone has lost their life are still strong and brave. Even if someone relapses or dies, it does not reflect upon the person, but the poisonous, malignant, lying nature of the disease. But do not give up the fight!
Recovery is possible and worth every scream of frustration and every tear of anguish. Why? Because freedom to live as we were intended to is so much sweeter than the honeyed lies of an eating disorder.
I have struggled with my body image and eating habits since I was 10.
Growing up, my role model was a woman who ran miles a day, calculated every morsel she ate and exercised even on days she was sick or sore for that extra piece of bread at dinner. I was never a skinny kid either. I was described as “cherubic” as a little kid, never “waif-” or “pixie-like.”
My weight has yo-yoed about fifty pounds over the last few years. In between, I went to weight loss camps, restricted my eating and ran hundreds of miles, all the while miserable. I was also miserable downing unhealthy snack foods.
Now, at 20, I have happily come to terms with the fact that I am not built like those taller, naturally thin models on television. I have embraced the curves that my Italian heritage blessed me with. I have repaired my destructive relationship with food and turned off my “all or nothing” switch.
I could be happy to stay at my current weight or be a little lighter. But any changes I make will be over time, gradually and healthfully. To anyone struggling, there is a light. You will get there, and you will fall in love with yourself just as I have.
See everyday beauty in both your body and soul, and that is a great start.
For about the past four and a half years, I have dealt with an eating disorder.
It started my sophomore year of high school. While I have always had body image issues, it hadn’t culminated into disordered eating until I was sick for a couple weeks and wasn’t able to eat. I had lost some weight and I decided to continue by eating as little as possible. I had already been skipping lunch because I didn’t want to sit alone and hear what my bullies had to say, so it wasn’t difficult to slip under the radar.
Soon enough, the binge and purge cycle started and that continued up until my sophomore year of college. That year, I restricted my eating and ran every single day, along with two hours in the gym. Somehow, I kept it up every day of that year until I fell into the binge and purge cycle again.
I’ve had a variety of the eating disorders out there, binge disorder, bulimia, anorexia and orthorexia (obsession with calories and working out). Not one of them was a willing choice. If I could have a normal life and a normal way of thinking, I would. My disorder has caused me to miss class, birthday parties, family events and exams to go work out or sulk because I felt too big to move.
An eating disorder can be as severe as mine or it can be as “minor” as skipping a meal once in a while to lose weight. It can happen at any weight. There is never any discrimination.
I live with it every day. A binge makes me cry and skipping a day of working out makes me have an anxiety attack. Eating disorders are NOT glamorous.
–Stony Brook University
I’ve been battling eating disorder thoughts ever since I was in fifth grade, but I never knew what to call it.
Until now, my freshman year of college. Looking back at my whole life, I just now realized how depressed I have been while by myself, allowing the negative thoughts to accumulate until my head feels like it’s going to explode.
I would alternate between eating my feelings away and not eating at all in order to cope with my feelings, something a 10-year-old should never have to deal with. One memory that stands out is being in ninth grade and staring at myself in the mirror and wanting to throw a rock at it.
I literally wanted to kill myself for feeling so miserable, so depressed and so alone. Towards the end of senior year I started to use food as a coping mechanism and that’s when I hit rock bottom. I could barely concentrate in school and my heart beat was irregular. It’s a miracle I wasn’t admitted to the hospital, but I am so grateful for it now.
I’m now a sophomore in college, and taking part in real life again. I am going to group therapy and re-establishing connections with my friends. I am just one example of many that prove that there is a beautiful life waiting past the eating disorder.
–Irvine Valley College
I’ve never had a diagnosed eating disorder.
But I can openly admit that I am way too conscious about what I eat and don’t eat. I’ll go on super extreme diets. I’ll cut out entire food groups. I’ll refuse to eat substantial meals if I feel that I did not get a work out in.
I wish I could say that the reason that I’m hyperaware of my eating is because “it feels good to eat healthy.” While, yes, there is some truth to this, I am more into eating consciously because I am self-conscious about my body. It’s frustrating that no matter what I eat or how much I work out, I will never be what is socially understood as “skinny.”
I can lose weight, but I’ll never be skinny. I just have to accept this, because I don’t have much of a choice. I promise myself that I will never let my concerns with my body and my eating escalate to the level of an actual eating disorder. I hope that I’m right.
The thing about eating disorders is that you’re never truly free of them.
No matter how many therapy sessions you attend, or how many times you actually like what you see in the mirror, there’s always a little voice inside you that tries you to convince you to skip dinner or purge that cupcake. The voice isn’t loud—but it’s there. It’s there, and it’s cunning and cruel and shows up when you least expect it only to make you feel like all the progress you made was for naught.
But it’s in these trying moments that you prove just how far you’ve come from that weak, sick girl that couldn’t see how beautiful she was. In these moments you raise your voice louder than the whisper, and finally, finally set yourself free.