Since the early days of 2009 I have been struggling with every eating disorder under the sun. Anorexia, Bulimia, binge eating—you name it, it ails me. When I was first told I had anorexia nervosa I was shocked. Me? How could I possibly have an eating disorder? I’m—dare I say it—fat!
When I was in 9th grade I weighed, at my lowest, 87 pounds, but I was still shocked when the doctor told me I was anorexic. Why? Because I saw flaws. I saw fat on my body and thought I needed to lose more and more weight.
I had a problem. I counted every calorie I put into my mouth. I counted every calorie burned on the treadmill. It was exhausting, to say the least. People commented on how skinny I looked, saying my skeleton-like figure would “blow away in the wind.” My parents were sad and mad at themselves for letting me get like this; they hadn’t realized I was slowly killing myself. When the process of gaining weight started, they made me eat spoonfuls of peanut butter for snacks and tried to take me out to get ice cream for dessert. It was so hard because I wanted to please them, but I wanted to be skinny more. I tried to stay the same weight. I tried to throw away the leftover ice cream while my parents weren’t looking, but they wouldn’t have any of that.
Nutritionists tracked my weight while a therapist tracked my thoughts and emotions. I was seeing an adolescence medicine doctor at a children’s hospital every month. I had to be good or else she would admit me into a ward where they would feed me calories through a tube, so I figured eating some peanut butter and ice cream once in a while wouldn’t kill me, right? It did, however, kill me on the inside. I remember my dad saying I wasn’t allowed to get my driver’s permit until I had gained enough weight back, which was really tough trying to come up with a different excuse to tell my friends. Once I broke 100 pounds again my parents and doctors were very proud of me.
I was told “Yay, Megan! Don’t you feel good now?” and asked “Isn’t gaining weight awesome?” No, it was not. No matter how much I weighed, no matter what I was eating, gaining weight took a serious toll on my emotional health.
I finally got to get back to exercising once I was eating normally and maintaining a healthy weight. I looked better and I was healthier, but I didn’t feel better. I constantly compared my body to my sisters’ bodies, my friends’, anyone at school. I wore large and x-large shirts and sweaters so that it would hide the “rolls” my stomach had developed after gaining some weight back. I hated my body and nothing changed except the number on the scale and that I couldn’t fit into size 00 jeans anymore.
I was getting more and more into fitness each day. I felt good. When my family and friends went on a beach vacation before I had to go off to school, I looked hot. But at the time I didn’t know it. I saw a body that was nice but needed improving still, one that needed more kale and running in my daily regime.
I was 117 pounds (still not too healthy) but I was eating and exercising correctly and was ready to go off to college.
But college was where it got worse. I started focusing my attention and energy on other things and had lost my love of fitness and healthy eating in the process. My mom took me on spring break to Florida to help relax me, but it did the opposite. Everyone’s like “Gotta get those abs for spring break!” but my version was “Gotta lose weight quick, even if it’s unhealthy for me!” And I did.
I started binging and purging daily. My personal low was when I was kneeling in my dorm room over my trash can throwing up the food I had just shoved into my mouth, before my roommate got back. I never thought I could even be bulimic. I hated throwing up and I didn’t think I could hate myself enough to commit to this self-harm. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t care to live either. An endless cycle.
Bulimia was harder to overcome than anorexia, because I was addicted to it. The feeling of getting the ugly food out of my body felt good. I felt powerful, but in reality it didn’t do much other than rid my teeth of enamel and turn my digestive system into an angry, painful part of my body. I didn’t lose much weight, but I couldn’t shake the addiction. I would buy food specifically to eat and throw up later. I was in total control and I liked it. I got home for the summer and came clean about it to my mom. I went back to therapy and back to my adolescent medicine doctor.
I am currently taking anti-anxiety medicine; depression medicine and I still talk to my therapist when I can. Occasionally I have bulimic episodes when my stress level is high and things are out of my control. It’s depressing to say the least. Every day I try to just focus on eating right and remembering I am surrounded by people who care about me.
I’m a junior in college and I think about how I should’ve let this go a long time ago, but, for now, all I can do is move forward. While I was kneeling in my dorm room with my fingers halfway down my throat, I thought “This is it; I’m never going to let go of my eating disorder.” I’m not proud of it, but I’m not ashamed either.
This struggle of mine is something that has given me the will to get stronger and focus on being better every day. I will one day be able to say, “Yeah I’ll have a regular soda,” and, “Yeah I’ll put regular sugar in my coffee.” But now, I’m taking it one step at a time, doing what I need to do to accomplish my goals and once and for all say goodbye to my eating disorder.
Disclaimer: I have included pictures for references of my body through all of these stages. If you recognize me, I wish to remain anonymous.