My hope in this is so that people can relate, get educated, and even get help or help others. I don't think I ever truly LOOKED like I was suffering from an eating disorder, so hopefully this will help people out there recognize themselves or someone they love.
Secondly, I want to clarify that an eating disorder is where a person is obsessing over their body coupled with what they consume (or do not consume), and modify their behaviors to extremes in order to reach a envisioned outcome, or as a coping mechanism to combat extreme stress, depression, and/or anxiety.
Most women I know can tell me about a time (or times) where they were obsessed with a diet or exercise, hated the way they looked, and how hard that was for them. My heart goes out to these ladies, because I know what that feels like! It is awful and so unfair. (Men are just as likely to deal with this--they just don't usually talk to me about it. ;) ) Eating disorders definitely start that way. However, that is not an eating disorder.
An eating disorder is all that, but to a much greater extreme with long-standing effects on your life. It is a pattern of thought and compulsive behavior so engrained in your psyche that it will likely never fully leave you, even when your behavior is healthy. It whittles out your soul as you try to whittle down your body. It chews you up, spits you out, makes you numb, makes you feel too much, and makes you think death is better than life. It is, by all definition, a mental illness with no easy cure and a whole lot of shame.
That is what an eating disorder is.
Finally, My eating disorder started with years of off-and-on deprivation (a deprivation that was easily deemed as "healthy" and that I had "good self-control"), then it turned into years of binges coupled with extreme deprivation and exercise purges. Throughout all of it, I carried an extreme hatred for my body. From the outside, I looked like I was simply a "healthy" girl, so I want to really emphasize that someone can be eating, look pretty normal, and still have a major, life-altering eating disorder.
My struggles included years in the making, years in the trenches, and years in the recovery (of which I am still in, even 10 years later from first seeking help). I'll be telling this story in phases, because it is LONG and it's also still hard to write about.
If you are struggling yourself, I want to warn you that you might not want to read. I am very sensitive to "triggers," as we call them, and don't want to bombard someone who is in the trenches. So, please make sure you are in a good place before you do!
Alllll that being said, I am going to start with a list of WHAT I GAVE TO MY EATING DISORDER. This will seem sad and angry. Because it is! Many of these items are truly past-tense though, so take heart!
There is SO much I have taken BACK, and I am working on the rest.
I gave my eating disorder my thoughts.
I gave it my time.
I gave it my confidence.
I gave it my fear.
I gave it my attention.
I gave it my anger.
I gave it my strength.
I gave it my self-control.
I gave it my peace.
I gave it my love of dancing.
I gave it my choice to not serve a mission
I gave it my study abroad.
I gave it my graduate studies.
I gave it my talents.
I gave it my dreams.
I gave it friendships.
I gave it dates.
I gave it parties I would not attend.
I gave it parties I did attend.
I gave it awareness of others.
I gave it visits home.
I gave it foods untried.
I gave it jobs.
I gave it runs.
I gave it clothes.
I gave it money.
I gave it late nights.
I gave it early mornings.
I gave it sweat.
I gave it tears.
I gave it space in my home.
I gave it space in my marriage.
I gave it space in my bed.
I gave it my prayers.
I gave it my fastings.
I gave it my faith in God.
I gave it my happiness.I gave it my desire to live.
I gave it "me."
If any of this rings true to you or remind you of someone, please refer to this screening: http://nedawareness.org/get-screened The first step is recognizing there is a problem.