Let's Talk Eating Disorders!
Did you know almost 8% of the USA's population suffers from an eating disorder? Whether it be anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, over 24 million people in America alone suffer day in an day out. Of that 24 million people, 10-15% are male. And only one out of ten people who suffer receive treatment.
All of these statistics were shocking, but that last one is what concerns me most. People are not being treated for their eating disorders and much of that is because no one ever talks about them. We don't talk about it because it is uncomfortable and the ones suffering are in the most vulnerable states of their lives. I didn't feel comfortable opening up completely about my struggles until I started talking to strangers while traveling. I knew my family and best friends were always there for me, but it was easier talking about it with a person I'd only known a couple days. I can't explain why, but I can tell you talking about it the first step. Whether it be to a friend, partner, family member or a helpline, talking about it will help you come to terms with it. I went through all the emotions of intense guilt, disappointment, anger, sadness, understanding, disbelief, and embarrassment.
I was never the skinniest girl, but I have always had a bigger athletic build... These photos were all taken in 2009 when I first started university and joined a sorority. These photos were taken before my struggle with an eating disorder began.
I remember while having the eating disorder I read Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi. If you ever want to read a book that scares you, tears at your heart strings and educates you on what it's like to have an eating disorder, this one is it! This book, although I was still having and acting upon my urges helped me understand that there are others out there going through the same thing. This is when I fell in love with journaling. I chose to journal everyday as my first step towards recovery, and now you basically get to read parts of it. Writing allowed me to say everything I needed to without letting anyone know what I was going through. Whether you write it and tear it up or type it up and delete it, at least you are writing and feeling in the present moment. I was too embarrassed to talk about it at first and journaling helped to bridge that gap.
I lived in a rehabilitation home for three months and not that it wasn't enough to scare the bajeeezus out of me, I went back to my same routine just less often because I was in the same environment and under the same stresses I was before. It wasn't until I left on that plane to London that I realized, I can't continue like this. At the end of the day I have myself and I have to learn to love myself again. I needed to stop being so paranoid about how people look at me... if they see me fat, skinny, voluptuous, successful, unsuccessful, smart, funny, unintelligent... who cares? I needed to drop the idea of perfectionism and let go of the self criticism that ran through my head on a daily basis.
These photos were taken in 2010-2011. This was when my anorexia was at it's peak. I was being IV fed and only eating certain vegetables. I was severely depressed, in pain everyday and thought I was fat...
Day by day I said... baby steps. Do what makes you feel good. Meet new people. Go see a new site that day. Don't worry about working out or how you're clothes fit. Make everyday an adventure. And smile, smile because you're alive and you've gotten this far which makes you strong enough. You are enough. Day by day, it got better. My clothes got tighter and I was definitely gaining weight, but I wasn't worried about that... I was worried about not acting upon my urges and being sure I was holding true to my end goal, an eating disorder free life. My mind was focused on getting myself from place to place. I only had myself to depend on. At that moment I realized, I need to start talking about it because if I don't it will be the same cycle over and over again in my head.
These photos were taken in 2012. I was full on bulimic and acting upon my urges on a daily/nightly basis.
If you have an eating disorder or any other type of addiction, I know it's scary and the guilt we feel for putting our loved ones through it compares to nothing else in this world. I was petrified I was never going to get better and I am sure you are too... Start writing about it. Start talking about it. Choose someone you've known for ages or someone you've known for a day and open up. Break out of your routine and do something different. Help yourself. Love yourself. There's so much in this world to see and do, it's crazy to think how consumed I was by my eating disorder. It consumed all of me for five years and now I have so much more free time to enjoy life. Life is so beautiful once you're free. My parents and friends will never understand the level of appreciation I have for their support through all of this but I know by showing them I'm healthy is enough. Being happy is enough. The small things are what I appreciate most. All the things I didn't notice for five years...
I was good at covering up my depression and struggle with a big smile. I continued to act upon my urges on a weekly basis even after my rehabilitation in 2012 and my weight fluctuated daily. I do not have many photos from this time, but I remember it like it was yesterday.
If you know anyone living with an eating disorder encourage them to talk to someone, anyone or write it down. It is time to start talking about eating disorders!