I’ve been overweight my entire life. I was always the “chunky kid” when I was younger, loitering the benches of my youth sports teams, and being put in the back row of all my cheerleading performances. In pictures with friends, I was always the larger girl.
The funny thing is, I never realized that I was bigger than my peers, until I began to lose weight in high school.
Everyone was stunned my freshman year when the weight began to fall off. I had joined the softball and tennis teams, and the workouts had really shaped me up. Boys talked to me more, people were nicer to me when I went places, and I felt more confident in my clothes. I had given up soda, and started paying attention to what I ate. I was proud of myself for the first time in a long time. Even my family bragged and raved about how great I looked.
By my junior year, the rapid weight loss stopped. In the fitness world, they refer to this as a “plateau”, or rather, a period of time where you maintain weight, instead of losing it. In my world, I threw the 60 pound progress out the window, and I referred to this as failure on my behalf.
By my senior year, watching what I ate became about control. I allowed myself a meal a day. I refused to go to college as the “fat friend”. I told my friends I wasn’t hungry, or that I was “water fasting” (sounds healthy right?).
I’ve never admitted this before, but many days I would take my medicine prescribed for my ADD/ADHD to assist me in destroying my appetite for hours at a time. Please recognize that if you are doing this, you are abusing a prescription. Take it from me, my heart rate was through the roof, my hair was falling out, my nails were falling off, and I was sick 24/7. These substances are addictive, and they are not something to use for workout or fitness motivation.
Through these methods, I lost 20 pounds.
It’s frustrating when you realize that your own language lacks the proper words to describe the way that you feel. In English, there’s no fitting word to describe what an eating disorder does to you. There’s no word that can encompass the pain that you cause not only yourself, but equally so, your friends and family. There’s pain. There’s anguish. There’s a constant sense of being ashamed of yourself.
Though, with these diseases, words don’t really seem to matter. When I battled my eating disorder, I never spoke about it. I would try to reach out to people in small ways, but no one believed that a “fat girl” like me could have an eating disorder. I’m sure it was easily perceived as a cry for attention. Is it not disgusting that our society has led people to believe that mental disorders are used as methods of being noticed? (Another rant, for another day.)
Nevertheless, my mind is eternally warped.
Every day is a battle for me. I want to restrict so badly, but I want to binge at the same time. There are days when I consume nothing but green tea until 6 p.m., but then I break and go on a 3,000 calorie binge. The guilt that consumes me each time I eat is endless. It doesn’t matter if it’s a salad, a vegetable, or fruits and lean meats, I feel like I’ve had too much.
Feeling ‘full’ is not a satisfying feeling to me. It is a guilty feeling. It is a feeling of failure.
Pictures are a fear of mine. Seeing myself in photos is a slap in the face, because no matter what I’m wearing, I always seem to look huge in them.
The mirror is my enemy. I avoid it often. Eating disorders don’t just impact the way you view your diet or your weight, they change the way that you see all aspects of your appearance. Suddenly, things like my eyebrows, the puffiness of my eyes in the morning, or one simple bump on my chin can ruin my entire day.
If you’re considering these avenues as an answer to rapid weightloss, don’t. I’ve gained all 20 pounds back, and more. I’m no longer ashamed to admit that I’ve gained weight, because I’m no longer ashamed to admit that what I did to my body was wrong.
Overweight people can’t have eating disorders? Think again. Not everyone that has an eating disorder is bone thin or emaciated. Eating disorders can be found in the form of restriction, or loss of control. Remember to listen when a friend reaches out to you, and to never blow them off.
More importantly, be positive with every person you meet. In my experience, the smallest of comments, even, “Wow, you’re going to eat that?” can stick with people that have eating disorders. Be mindful of what you say, and be attentive when your friends reach out to you.
Educate yourself on the different kinds of eating disorders, and know the signs to be aware of within yourself, and your friends.
The damage I’ve done to my body is in some ways, irreparable. There are stretch marks from rapid weight loss on my arms, and I have an inexistent metabolism.Know that in this world, you only get one body. Cherish it and cherish yourself.
For more of my story check out my personal blog.
To find out more about eating disorders and get educated, click here.