Not ED

I’m not all to sure how to begin this or if I really want to or if I’m ready. I feel that since I have been embarking on a self love journey and ditching old habits and really showing improvement, that I am a little bit more open or ready to talk about the eating disorders I’ve been struggling with for the past few years.
I grew up with a healthy mindset of eating. I enjoyed eating. My parents raised me in a healthy environment and with their parenting they never affected me in a negative way that could possibly influence poor habits. I was allowed to eat anything I wanted, really, when I wanted, and how much I wanted. I was a healthy weight and that was that. If I was hungry I ate and didn’t think twice about it. This isn’t to say I ate healthy foods at every meal, though.
Beginning in high school I still maintained this type of mindset with eating. However, I began working out and partaking in physical activities but never changed my diet. I really never saw a difference in how I looked or really understood nutrition or physical activity to actually lose weight.
I started to compare myself to other people around me or people in magazines wearing bathing suits. I realized I wasn’t as thin as I really thought I was. I was in no way overweight but I wasn’t what I saw in other girls. I began comparing myself to friends, whose physical makeup terribly differed from my own. I had a poor self image, always thinking my friends were skinnier or fitter than me or could run further or work out harder. I lacked so much self confidence.
I began cutting back on certain foods or trying to eat healthier. In reality I was not really eating anything healthier at all. I would try and limit certain foods but than I would find myself going back to that bag of Doritos or cheezits or whatever other junk and uncontrollably indulging and feeling a sense of regret afterwards. I remember one summer I ran into a friend and I became aware that she looked thinner than the last I had seen her. I was jealous and wanted to look like that. Nothing came of that or changed of myself. I just continually worsened my own self image comparing myself to others.
My real eating disorder didn’t begin until the summer after I graduated high school. I was living away from home that summer with friends, drinking everyday and eating poorly. Despite that, I would try and make food and not gain the weight that every senior supposedly gained during this time of their lives. I didn’t want to be fat like everyone else would become. I wanted to still maintain my somewhat thin physique. I would go for runs and only eat one meal a day in order to binge out on alcohol every night, which was also due to the lack of food and money I had at the time. I would spend most of it on alcohol.
I don’t forget the first night I came home after a night of drinking and I purposely made myself throw up, loudly gagging in a back bathroom. I had never done this before, but I saw a friend do it. So I stuck my fingers down my throat and let vomit come up just like she had. I was not sick, like she was, nor was I too drunk. I did this to aid my goal of maintaining my weight.  I initiated a terrible and dangerous habit that night. I found myself binging on chips and beer but also found my head hanging over a toilet later that night puking up leaves from the salad of the only meal I ate that day. I’d wipe away my spit and go to bed feeling better or relieved about myself. This continued nearly every night I went out. I didn’t realize what I was doing. I don’t know where it came from within the midst of my mind that was constantly intoxicated. I just thought it helped and not many people noticed or were aware so it was okay in my mind. I would stay skinny.
A friend later found out and wanted to help me. She did. I soon moved into college and the habit stuck around only for a short amount of time.
As I moved into college I was so excited to be able to use the gym. I ditched one bad habit for another. I began compulsively going to the gym and spending an hour on the elipltical. I got thinner and it was addictive. I soon realized I could cut certain foods out of my diet all together and eat healthier and I could lose more weight so I did just that. It soon became an obsession. I would get anxiety if I did not make it to the gym that day. I would really only eat salad and get nervous when I had to eat something else or guilty if I did afterwards. The guilt consumed me and bothered me so much. It was something always in my ear eating away at me and whatever confidence I had. I couldn’t get away from it. I started punishing myself with excessive or difficult workouts. This went on for at least two years. People told me I lost weight and that I looked thinner and I loved it. I was a low weight and my doctor even noticed I lost weight from a previous visit and it made me so happy.
This way of life and eating and working out became an obsession. I would workout constantly. I starved myself at certain points of my days. I refused myself to eat certain things. I would barely eat lunch or if I did it couldn’t even be considered a snack. I would be near passing out and have to rush to shove food down my throat in order not to. I struggled with eating things other than salad or fruit or something I thought was safe. I would go as so far to put skim milk and Splenda in my coffees to avoid the hazardous cream and sugar. All things encompassed this way of life and eating for me. If I thought something was healthier I ditched the alternative regardless of any circumstance.
I eventually weened myself away from that and became healthier. I ate a little bit more normal but always healthy. I still struggled with planning my day of food and workouts. I would get major anxiety if I wasn’t sure I was able to make it to the gym that day. I would plan out what food I would eat or spend countless minutes debating what to eat. I still struggled with guilt after eating certain foods. I switched my alcohol to liquor and low cal drinks in order to avoid beer. Despite eating more and different foods other than green leaves, I was also forcing myself to go to the gym for two hours at this point everyday. I’d be the first person at the gym every morning and I would soon return later in my day after class or work to spend another pointless hour there doing cardio in hopes of getting skinnier. I thought my habits improved and I felt more confident with myself despite not being as skinny as I once was. But I still wasted so much of my time consumed with these thoughts.
I soon realized if I cut out meat I was cutting out so many more calories so I did that. And then I eventually went full blown vegan in hopes of achieving a stick skin body. I did not fully understand a healthy vegan diet at the time so I didn’t get the body I was looking for and I didn’t understand why. ( I’m getting the hang of it now)
I went out with two friends one night night. Typically, I started comparing myself and I wanted to be as skinny as them. I started throwing up again that night. It led me down to an awful, dark, and gross path of having my head over a toilet after a night of drinking once again. I hid it from everyone. I did it on multiple occasions in any given night, multiple times a week. Friends tried to help but they thought the issue became resolved and my poor habits went unnoticed despite countless times I managed to slip away to the bathroom wherever we were. I hid it so well. It became out of control and I found myself sobbing one night months later because of how deep I had dug myself into this hole. I didn’t know how to stop. I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want to get better. It was an abusive relationship. The voice comforted me when I threw up and I felt better but it was so mean and nasty to put negative thoughts about myself into my mind. During this time I was struggling coming to terms with what my reflection looked like. I wanted a thigh gap, a flat stomach, and skinny arms and I had non of that despite my habit. The only way I thought I would be what I wanted to see was if I kept throwing up. If I didn’t throw up I would hate myself. I would lay in bed and cry because I was terribly uncomfortable in my body. I hated how I looked. I knew I had an unhealthy habit but I didn’t know how else I would get skinny. I felt like I tried everything. The voice told me it felt better to throw up. I always was comforted and relieved when I did and I didn’t want to get out of that comfort zone. I was so scared to change.
Eventually I forced myself to see a counselor, with the encouragement of friends, and had sessions once a week for a period of time. I got better because of her help and it’s changed my life. I have more freedom and control. I still find myself struggling with self love and acceptance, food guilt, over exercising, limiting calories, overthinking, punishing myself, and everything else in between what I have experienced. It’s hard. But nobody’s alone. I’m not 100% and I never will be. And that’s okay because I’ve learned steps to help manage my thoughts and I have more control over them now. I’m in charge of my life, my thoughts, and my actions. Not ED.

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