Many teens, both girls and boys, can develop eating disorders at pretty young ages. I unfortunately developed mine at the age of 15 when I convinced myself that my worth was based on my weight. Obviously that sounds ridiculous, but to a 15 year old who felt that who she was wasn’t good enough for others, it made perfect sense.
Every one has a different experience in high school, and to be quite frank, mine sucked. For most of the time, I tried to fit in with a group of people who made me feel left out and bad about myself. I was left feeling rejected and unaccepted, but nonetheless, I put a lot of effort into trying to be their friends. Everyday I felt like I had to prove that I was good enough somehow and then they would like me, but no matter how nice and genuine I was, it didn’t make a difference. That’s when I thought that I had to change the way I looked to become accepted.
Now I am not blaming anyone for being the reason I developed an eating disorder; I developed an eating disorder due to many factors that were going on in my life. But the hostility and rejection I experienced day after day in high school was a huge factor in some of my decision making. Not only was I feeling like I wasn’t good enough for the people at my school, but I also had the feeling of not being good enough in my own family at home. I felt this way in sports, such as tennis. Tennis was a big deal in my family, but I knew that I would never be the best which made me feel like I was a disappointment in my parents eyes. Everywhere I turned, I felt invisible or not good enough in the eyes of others. I could never control situations I was in; I never stood up for myself, never took the lead or control in anything. I was the girl who stood back and let my life be run by others.
In our society today, women who are thin, have big breasts, big butt, nice hair, etc, are considered beautiful. I realized that these were the kind of women that were liked by others and had friends. On TV, or in movies, the pretty girl who was skinny, was always liked and popular. Of course, that got me thinking; if these certain people aren’t accepting me for who I am, there must be something about me that has to change. That is when I started focusing on the external me and obsessing over my weight. The summer after freshman year I lost 20 pounds due to intense exercising and going on strict diet. My strict diet led to me restricting way more food than what was healthy for myself; I was starving myself. At the time it was okay because I was losing weight and for the first time I was finally able to control something in my life…I felt powerful. Of course, that didn’t change my friend situation at school. I still wasn’t satisfied. “I must not be thin enough,” I thought. I was so obsessed with becoming thin that I took drastic measures into my own hands. My sophomore year of high school I became bulimic. I was losing more weight; losing more of myself everyday. High school was a big blur to me. I don’t have very good memories even now from it because all I was focused on was my weight; nothing else really mattered.
At first, developing an eating disorder was the best thing that could ever happen to me. I finally found a way to become really thin. I was happy about losing a lot of weight, but I was never satisfied. The sad part was that the people that I wanted to be friends with never became my close friends. Even when I was thin, they didn’t care. I was empty. Lonely. Tired. For years,all I was searching for was love and acceptance. But in the process, I lost myself.
The beauty of an eating disorder is that it never works. That is what my therapist told me, and I believe her. I had 2 years of being in control of my eating disorder, and after that my eating disorder took over my life and that is when things got bad. Senior year of high school I was in a vicious cycle of restricting, binging, purging, and over exercising. I was so deep into my eating disorder that I couldn’t take a break to come up for air; it was like I was stuck in a current in the ocean, wave after wave pounding on me and no time to take a single breath. I was so depressed because all I wanted was love and acceptance from people…and all I did was push people away. “How the hell did my life get to this point!?” I would think to myself every single day. I was caught up in a world that was run by my eating disorder. It had turned on me; at first it was working for me, and then suddenly turned against me, making my life a living hell. Life was almost unbearable. I hated my life . I had thoughts of ending my life because I didn’t see a real purpose to why I was living anymore. I forgot what it was like to be happy.
One day after having some really horrible thoughts of ending my life, I realized that I wasn’t trying hard enough for myself. Yes, I made some very harmful and wrong decisions that had bad consequences…but for a second I thought “Don’t I owe it to myself to fight a little harder for my life back?” At that point I had already been through therapy and antidepressants which did not do much for me. But at this point in my life I realized that I really wanted my life back and that I was going to fight my hardest to gain control over my life. I wanted to experience happiness in my life again. I wanted to remember how it felt to actually live because for the past few years I was not living…at least not for myself. I was constantly thinking about how to impress others by my looks and body image. That was not living.
About two months ago, I made the decision to stop what I was doing in life which was going to college, and get myself serious help by going into a treatment center. And that is exactly what I did. I have been in recovery for 5 weeks now and these 5 weeks have been the best weeks of the past 4 years of my life. I convinced myself that my worth was based on my weight, that my external looks mattered more than my true self, that I only deserved love if I was thin. I am realizing that those are all lies and no ones weight or external self defines who they are. My therapist constantly reminds me that our bodies are just our earth suits, meaning that our true selves are temporarily living in our bodies. Placing so much emphasis on looks and weight is seriously the worst thing people can do because then people fail to focus on what is more important; what is on the inside.
I know that this is a really hard concept to grasp and accept. I am learning each day how to accept myself for who I am and not what I look like. It isn’t easy, but it is possible. I know I still have ways to go, but at least I am now headed in the right direction and with the right guidance. I am no longer living my life trying to please others. I am no longer trying to look a certain way, hoping to be accepted and loved for my looks. I know that my life is much more valuable, and that I don’t have to change a single bit for anyone’s love. We all deserve love, respect and acceptance no matter how we look.
Now here I am making this blog and sharing my story for the first time publicly. The reason that I am doing this is to not only raise more awareness towards eating disorders and how harmful they are, but to also bring hope to anyone who is suffering from an eating disorder. I am in the midst of recovery, but I am telling you, recovery is very real and it is possible for any one who is going through an eating disorder.