Most of my life, I was on the chunkier side. I was much bigger than my friends and sister and I hated standing out in that way. I also really LOVED food and didn’t ever pay attention to my hunger cues.
I believed that if I were skinny, maybe I would be comfortable with myself and I would be accepted.
I started really engaging in disordered eating behaviors in 2012 after I finished graduate school. I started doing Weight Watchers™ and it worked!
I wanted to lose weight and I did; I was finally at “my goal weight.”
The weight was very difficult to maintain, as I had to be on a diet every single day. I didn’t eat enough, and when I overate, I was overcome with guilt and shame.
On my “cheat days,” I always ate more than I wanted to, for fear of not knowing when my next good meal would be. My disordered dieting behaviors (eliminating carbs, eating smoothies for dinner, sometimes not eating dinner) lasted for three years.
I got to a point where I couldn’t go to the bathroom. I had eliminated so many nutrients from my diet that I began taking laxatives.
After my wedding last Fall, I realized how out of my control my eating disorder behaviors had become. Trying to get down to a small weight before my wedding left me depressed, hungry and stressed. I also didn’t look any different.
I decided that if my disordered behaviors didn’t naturally go away after my wedding, I would get help.
They didn’t go away and I was just as scared as I always was. I started going to an eating disorder group and loved it. I also started seeing a nutritionist regularly, which was amazing but totally terrifying. I did all of this in conjunction with therapy. It has been the HARDEST thing I’ve ever done. And the best. Definitely the best.
I have amazing parents who always supported anything I’ve needed. I wish that people in general would stop talking about bodies, weight, food, diets and exercise so much. I think that’s really hard to be around. People don’t mean to do it, or know that it’s harmful, but it really is.
I grew up with a mom who didn’t talk about her weight or my weight or bodies or anything related, which was really lucky. But I went to an all-girls school and it was something I really struggled with on my own.
I encourage other parents to not pay attention to dieting fads and allow their children to be children for as long as they can. I would also let any parents know that eating disorders are sneaky – it may not look like someone is SICK at all.
If someone tells you they’re sick, they are. Believe them. These disorders are not enjoyable.
Having an ED that is “otherwise specified” is tough. It made me question myself and made me wonder if I was “sick enough” for treatment. (The idea that I wanted to be “sicker” as an indication of how sick I really was.) It can be hard when people are shocked when you are struggling with an eating disorder because you are not rail thin. It’s important for people to know that most eating disorders are in the “not otherwise specified” category.
I want people to know that recovery is hard but fighting for freedom is worth it. This will be one of the hardest things you do in your life. We are fighting against an insane diet culture that makes us believe that we are doing everything wrong. It has made us feel that paying attention to our hunger cues or listening to what our body wants/needs is wrong.
Please remember that your children need for you to be supportive and understanding and that they are hurting. They are not doing this for vanity reasons. Eating disorders are deadly, the most deadly mental condition. Look past the stereotypes of eating disorders and recognize that there is no “one size fits all” eating disorder.