Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Save Our Daughters part I, How I developed an eating disorder

This post is extremely personal, and is part I of my series about Saving Our Daughters. Please don't judge me for being so open and honest. Feel free to stop reading if you are offended. My hope is to touch someone who may have been, or is still going, through the same thing. I also want to give some background for part III of my series, which will be about trying to help G avoid the misery of poor self-image.

Have you ever done something, but felt that you weren't the one doing it?
Ever do something that you said you never would do?
Ever do it over and over again?

I have. Many, many times.

I ate a lot of food.
Then, I threw it up I made myself throw it up.

I guess you can call it bingeing (yes, correct spelling) and purging. Bulimia. Whatever.

I've always had a poor body image. I primarily blame the media, not necessarily for any influence on me, but for their influence on society and my friends, which did affect me. I didn't want to look a certain way because celebrities did, I wanted to look a certain way because girls around me did.
When I was young, my mom often commented on what or how much I was eating. I know she didn't mean any harm, she just didn't want me to be fat. I don't blame her at all, she's one of my best friends, those comments are simply one rung on the ladder.
Another rung, is the fact that I had several relatives who fed me anything/everything I wanted. I didn't really know the meaning of 'healthy eating.'
I also matured faster than everyone in my grade, and boys made fun of the way I looked in elementary school.
I was on the chubbier side in middle school, when girls become really catty, and I felt ostracized.
I thinned out some by high school, and I was an athlete. On the inside, though, I still felt really bad about how I looked because I was bigger than my jock peers. In my mind, I wore a "big" size and I weighed a lot. I had love handles. I had tree trunks for thighs. Something was always wrong, in my mind.
I also had a bad relationship with food. I would not eat breakfast, if it meant I could eat junk food for a snack. I 'rewarded' myself for running, by eating ice cream or some other unhealthy snack. My mom always told me the key to healthy eating is moderation. I knew in the back of my mind I had a bad relationship with food...but I didn't really do much about it until I left home.
My freshman year of college, nutrition became a passion of mine. So much so that I became kind of obsessive about it. I wouldn't eat anything bad...but then that would lead my body to crave any semblance of fat, so I'd binge eat it. All I was missing was the trigger leading to purging.

Enter a very catastrophic break-up with a serious boyfriend. It was a bad relationship from the get-go. I was set on remaining single my senior year of high school...but I was a sucker for smooth talkers who brought me flowers on our first "non" date. It was all down hill from there. I still planned on breaking up with him when I went to college. Well. He.followed.me.there. That screwed up my college experience on many levels. A few months later, he moved back home, and had the audacity to break up with ME! I was completely devastated. It was one of the lowest points of my life. He was a loser, I was a winner...and here he was breaking up with me! I was the one that wanted to break up! I never did it because I was too afraid of being alone. So when he did it, I felt like I had been punched in the gut, kicked in the head, and spit on.

I had previously thought I was an amazing catch, but if this loser felt like he was better off without me...I began to think I wasn't worth all that much. I moved on, but the relationship and break-up scarred me for life.

I found solace in exercising. I used my body, proved to myself what it could do, and kept my mind off of other things. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and boost moral--the problem arises when it becomes obsessive. Just as I had developed a bad relationship with food, I started one with exercise. If I didn't get to the gym at least once a day, I got really down on myself. I ran so much, ibuprofen was the only way I could walk to class. I was into size 6 clothes, and for my body...that might as well be a size 0. I had about 14% body fat...again, for my genes, that's ridiculous. I ate only enough to be efficient in the gym.

The summer after my freshman year I sublet an apartment so that I could stay at college--working, taking a class, and running. (I still love running, but my affinity for it is much healthier now)

So what took me from compulsive exercising and eating overly healthy, to being bulimic?

Living on my own. That, in and of itself, like many of the things above, is not bad.  Combine them all and the ladder I was climbing toward an eating disorder was complete.

No one was there to hold me accountable. I felt isolated, and I was a wreck. I had friends, but that didn't matter. On the inside, I was alone.

My 'healthy' eating and over-exercising led my body to crave fats. So in my weakest moments, I would find something-anything-junky to eat. I'd then feel completely horrible & make myself throw it up. Those 'weakest moments' became routine. It was a daily, if not more, occurrence.

I really don't think I can go into anymore detail, for fear of scaring family and friends. Suffice it to say, it got bad. I don't want to really rehash all of the details of being bulimic. For the purpose of Saving Our Daughters, you really only need to know how I became bulimic.

For my attempts to recover, see part II.

For resources on recovering from an eating disorder, please see the National Eating Disorder Association.


  1. Thanks for being open and honest. It takes a lot of courage to share this.

  2. It was very brave of you to write that, I know how difficult sharing your personal struggles are! I'm so happy that your relationship with food and exercise is healthier now.

    I have similar experiences, although I wouldn't say it ever developed into a full-blown eating disorder. Living alone (or with roommates that were always in and out) definitely allowed me to do things that would never have happened if I had lived at home (or could never happen now that I'm married). I never realized how much that affected me though!

  3. By the way, if you haven't read it, there is a great new book that approaches body image and eating disorders from a Catholic perspective. It's called Weightless by Kate Wicker. I'm currently reading it and it's great!

  4. Thank you for sharing. I know how hard it can be to open up about issues like this. Every story helps someone.


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