My Ongoing Body Story

*ED TRIGGER WARNING*

I had never told anyone this until three months ago.

I started hating my body when I was nine years old. I had not even entered middle school yet. I remember walking past a mirror and thinking that I was too thin, that my body didn’t fit in, that it didn’t look like the rest of the girls in my grade. Although this altered perception of my body is not the most common or publicized regarding body image concerns, this was the thought that initiated my struggle with food and body image.

I had been a gymnast all of life, so as I entered middle school, my body was actually able to gain more muscle and bulk up from all of the workouts I had been doing. The view I had of my body started to shift into one where I became self-conscious of how large I was instead of how small. I hated how my arms were so big compared to my friends. I hated how my waistline looked in the pictures of me in a bikini next to my camp friends. I hated looking at myself in a leotard when standing next to my teammates. However, for years I performed no action in order to “fix” the parts of my body that I hated. That was until I started using the internet. Movies showing the danger of girls obsessed with their bodies were popping up on the internet everywhere. They were easily accessible for a girl who was quite internet savvy, like me. I found that if I worked out extra hard and did a lot of cardio that I would lean out and not be as bulky. I also found that less food consumption could also be an option for losing weight.

I would do workouts in my room at night in my bedroom after my parents went to sleep and I would beg my dad to take me on the six-mile bike loop around Central Park. I would even beg to do another lap if I felt like I was especially “heavy” that week. The constant struggle to lose weight was frustrating as I did not see any physical changes occur when I looked in the mirror. It was also difficult to not eat in front of my parents and friends. And as a long-time foodie, food was just too hard to give up. But then, I found a compromise. I would wait to eat as long as I could possibly hold out, then binge, and then purge. Nobody ever knew I struggled with body image or any kind of eating issues because the actual look of my body never really changed or no variation was ever considerably noticeable.

Entering into high school, I eventually came to a point where I felt somewhat comfortable in my skin and I ceased any action to try to significantly alter my body. I had joined my high school’s track team and finally felt healthy and confident with my body. I had qualified for freshman nationals, and during my sophomore year, I had even broken a school record. This was the healthiest I had ever mean mentally and physically. However, during junior year I fell back into the cyclical depressive state of hating my body. I began to feel the real pressures of school and college admissions. I started to exercise less, gain weight, and my times in track started to plateau and then eventually regress. I was devastated and confused. Because I needed a quick fix, I resorted back to my old ways. I would not eat the whole day until I got home at 6 PM after practice and then scarf down everything I could in my kitchen. However, this time my body would not allow me to purge. I started to gain even more weight and my self-confidence with my body and my athletic performance lowered so much that I ended up giving up on my improvements in track and plainly just stopped trying.

The summer before senior year I decided to go on a no sugar diet for six months. I told everyone that I was doing it because it was mandated by my doctor, but in actuality, I was just desperate to lose weight. I stuck to it and it worked! I was eating healthily and performing much better in my sports. I was much more confident with my body, however, I still had times where I would cry over the way my arms looked or how my big my stomach was. But overall, I was pretty much healthy and confident again. It is never recommended that someone with an eating disorder go on a restrictive diet, however, in my case, I was able to start eating a healthy amount of food again while I kept myself to a certain food schedule. Although there may seem to be a happy ending, I was unfortunately not able to sustain this seemingly-healthy lifestyle.

Now I am in college, doing no sports, and having no supervision over my eating. In the first two months, I gained almost twenty pounds. Again, the cycle started up again. I was devastated over the way my body looked. I had never weighed that much, nor had looked so “large.” I became severely depressed. However, this time I was unable to stop the eating in order to have a quick fix. This time I kept eating every time I felt sad. I couldn’t stop myself. I see food and I eat and eat until I am sick.

After feeling embarrassed and devastated over what my body was turning into, I eventually told my mother that I need to see a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with depression and a binge and compulsive eating disorder. I learned that the way my body searches for a way to make up for the lack of dopamine is through food. This was the first time I had ever asked for help. This was the first time I had told someone.

It has been a couple months since I first started treatment, and although I still engage in many binges and feel depressed about the size of my body, I have picked up some healthy habits to help me try to keep on track. I have found a great group of friends that I am able to open to about my eating issues and they are able to monitor and support me. They have even sent me inspirational messages to read when I feel like I need to binge. I am on medication to help my anxiety and depression and I regularly see a psychiatrist and therapist. Although I don’t know when my daily struggle with eating and body image will end, I no longer feel hopeless when I look at myself in the mirror when I get off track and binge. I know that I have contacted the right resources and that I have a supportive group of people behind me helping me to feel better about myself. I have also learned that college really shows you how you cope when there is no one else around. You have to learn how to take care of yourself quickly when you enter college. You need to find the right resources and make a genuine effort to not isolate yourself and consequently allow your issues and troubles to consume you.     It may be a lifetime struggle, who knows. But to anyone who has or is struggling with an eating disorder, there is always hope.

You just need to tell someone.

 

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