We are about halfway through National Eating Disorder Awareness week. I've been grateful to see online and real life attempts to bring awareness to it.
I wasn't just fat. I had disordered eating. It's so common with those who are obese. Binge eating. Dangerous attempts to lose weight. The list goes on.
I wanted to link to some real information about Disordered Eating and Body Image before I go into my opinions and own experiences. I would urge people struggling with this to get help - I suffered quietly and alone for way too long.
But in honor of this awareness week, I will bring awareness to it by telling my story. To let down the curtain, let people know I struggled, that even with all the success you've seen on this blog - it wasn't a smooth road to get here.
For me, I don't think anyone would diagnose me with an eating disorder. But disordered eating? I didn't have a normal relationship with food. There has been overeating and bingeing for most of my life, interspersed throughout the years. I remember restricting food when I was 11ish, drinking water to try and curb my hunger. I remember being an obese teenager in high school, trying to throw up my lunch because I felt such shame for being so much bigger than all the other girls. It was then that I developed a long, long struggle with bulimic tendencies. Whether I was fat or thin, a teen or an adult, I often turned to bulimic behaviors for a sense of control over my body.
It became a serious problem a few times, I knew it was happening too much, I knew I was putting a lot at risk. I've never sought therapy for it, I don't know if I've ever really healed or fixed it. I do know that the more educated I've gotten about nutrition and exercise, the older I've gotten, the less of a problem I have with it. I don't turn to those behaviors anymore.... even though I went through a long period of feeling OUT of control recently.
It lurks back there, though: knowing I spent almost a decade hurting my body. Overeating, binge eating, restricting, throwing up, taking diet pills. Hating my body. Hating myself. Guilt, shame.
These last few years have been different. I lost weight in a healthy manner. I realized it will only stay off if I keep up that healthy behavior. I HAD to stop hurting myself. What remains, though, is the mental stuff.
I am not now and have never been comfortable in my body.
Chris cannot understand those times when I cringe away from him touching me or seeing me naked. He thinks I am beautiful - I feel ugly and worthless in those times. I see something different in the mirror than people see when they look at me. Under 130 pounds now, I often think I am overweight when I look at myself. My body image is in the toilet from all those years of hurting myself, being wrapped up in a disordered place.
BUT it is not all doom and gloom!!!
I work on it. I force myself to face it. I wear fitted clothes and don't hide my body. I talk to myself positively about my body when the negative thoughts creep in. I try to be realistic.
Yes, I have a VERY poor body image. I struggle daily to accept who I am and what I look like. Some days are better than others. I am proud that I have come as far as I have. It was so much worse ten years ago, five years ago.... heck, even three years ago.
The better I treat my body, the better I treat myself in general, the easier it all gets. When I have the right fuel (whole, clean foods) and am active in this world, it is so much easier for me to stamp out that bad body image and replace it with pride and love.
Also, I have been more vocal about my struggles to people like Chris and some of my friends AND here on this blog. The more honest I am about how I feel, how I see myself, what is going on inside my mind.... the easier it is for me to get back to a good place. I don't keep it all locked away anymore. I expose it so it can't fester.
It's up and down, it's a struggle. But it's important.
Bring it to light. Don't let it get secreted away deep inside, where it can only harm you. Don't be alone with it - it is a sickness and it needs to be treated.
I like this awareness week: because the more aware I was of eating disorders, the more educated I got, the more I realized what was going on with my eating and my body image was NOT normal and I didn't have to live like that.
I don't want anyone to have to live like that.
Namaste, friends. Love yourself. <3