A couple of interesting questions in the past week have really got me thinking and reflecting. I always get a nervous feeling in my tummy when someone asks me about my eating disorder. At the time I didn’t think I had a problem and even today I give myself grace because I know at the time it was a way of coping with other things I had going on.
I’ll be honest at the time it all happened I was talking to a guy. At the time I liked him and was so excited because it was the first time I had ever really been seeing someone semi seriously. Towards the end of it I was starting to feel a bit pushed to the side. I was so confused about it. Then it just abruptly ended. Someone I had been speaking to everyday just stopped replying. I didn’t push it. I just accepted that it just fizzled out and ended and presumed I was the issue. From there I just questioned myself and my worth. I felt so out of control so I started making rules around my eating habits. I didn’t think those rules would have ramifications for anyone but myself. That was so wrong.
Now I have shared my story so I won’t do that again. What I do want to talk about is what is seen from the outside. I need to stress that at the time what I was doing to myself was perfectly rational. I was just being ‘healthy’ I didn’t have a problem. Even though I have left that part of my life behind me, what it did leave was an ability to see the trigger points. I wish now looking back I could have seen what my lifestyle and thinking did to my family. I can’t imagine it would have been easy to watch a sister or a child just start to fade away.
A friend of mine asked for my advice about how to voice concern to a friend they are worried about. To be honest, I don’t think there is a ‘right’ way to do it. It is just one of those things that have to be done. I thank God every day for my family for making me see it. I was literally skin and bones. If I had no muscle on me I would have been a skeleton.
I am so grateful now that my family did say something to me. I may not have ever realised I had a problem until someone actually pointed it out. It isn’t easy to say something. What if the person doesn’t take it well? Could the situation get worse than it is?
Obviously being told that you may have a problem is not something nice to hear. It makes you look at yourself and question “what on earth have I done?” I think it was a sad misconception of mine that I could just make a snap decision and get out of it. Sure I could commit to doing something about it but like any mental disorder these things take time. I think for a good six months I was in “recovery” but I actually wasn’t. I would eat a tiny bit more so on the outside I looked happy but the anguish on the inside didn’t start to leave me until nearly 18 months after I started “recovery.” I needed to restore my self-worth. Unless I thought I was worthy of recovery and I was ready to not let my body define me I was never going to see results.
I think that the recovery was harder than the disorder itself sometimes. When something stressful would arise I would just make another rule “no fruit after 12pm” “only one egg with lunch because two will make you put on weight.” When I was actually making an effort to recover I didn’t just have to face the food I was afraid of, I had to face my problems. This was something I knew I needed to do for myself. I didn’t want the help of others and I apologise to anyone I hurt during that time. The truth is, I was so thankful for their support I just didn’t have it in me to express it at the time.
To me without love and support from others I would not have got through. Seeing how happy my family was when they saw me happy again was priceless. I wanted to recover for them more so than me. It took time to see that but I did. If you are concerned about someone I do think you should say something. You just have to be prepared that they won’t want to hear it.
The sometimes rude and cruel reactions are hard to hear especially when you’re just trying to help. Remember, you are not the problem. There is something bigger than you that is the issue. Unconditional love and support is an incredible gift so provide that. It won’t go unnoticed. It may be ignored for a bit but friends and family come around in the end. No one wants to see their friends and family unwell. We have incredible gifts of intuition so we need to have faith in that. The person may not appreciate it straight away but when the time is right they will.
I wish I could take back the anger and resentment I felt towards my family for being concerned about me. I didn’t want to believe them. I didn’t want to be told there was something wrong. What would I do if I couldn’t follow the rules I set for myself? My life would be chaos! I wasn’t ready to deal with my problems yet I needed time.
I think that to recover you have to want to. You have to get out of the victim mentality. Everyone has been a victim to something. I knew that in order to improve my life and live the life I always wanted to I had to let it go. That was hard at the time because it meant I had to step away from my identity and actually embrace my true self. That to me was terrifying. I thought that if I had been rejected in the past who is to say that wouldn’t happen again. Well you know what, it could happen again in a job or relationship but there is also a chance that it WON’T be the same story. With that in mind I clung to that and strongly believed I was worth something. I started doing what I liked unashamed. It was a beautiful feeling.
I know I was lucky. But I also worked hard to get where I am. I read so many self-help books, I started yoga, I left friendships, I stopped training like crazy, I left a job I hated, I learnt to love myself. I recited positivity mantras every day. This is an ongoing journey of mine. My new coping mechanism isn’t food anymore. It is more balanced and holistic but it is not perfect. I don’t think it’s meant to be perfect. Like my nonna said to me yesterday, “life is hard but it is beautiful”. I can’t hate on my story because it made me who I am, I am just grateful for my friends and family for believing me and being honest with me so I could share this part of it with you.