There's a misconception that those who suffer from eating disorders just 'decide' that they 'don't want to eat'. Often, others make the generalization that an eating disorder is a cry for attention. This is wrong, and I speak from experience. What do eating disorders feel like? Some eating disorders begin with tiny realizations or goals. "I can't fit into my jeans. I should lose a little weight." I started to run at first, then cut out sweets from my diet. When I started to see results and received compliments from my friends and family members, I felt a rush. The rush became an addiction.
Eventually, I started to eliminate more types of food from my diet and exercised more. Little by little, it spiralled out of control. I felt like I couldn't control the way my thought process was working. I became consumed by food, sizes, and numbers. The inner voice inside my head told me that I was never good enough.
I’ve suffered from anorexia for nearly 10 years. I’m not really sick anymore, but I know that it will take a lot of time for my body and mind to rebuild. One year ago, my weight was down to 82.6 lbs. I couldn’t really do anything because my body was so weak. I still forced myself to exercise constantly. I hardly ate anything: 10-15 bites of whatever my boyfriend had cooked for dinner. Most poignantly, I remember the feeling of guilt: not only because I ate, but because my boyfriend spent time cooking for me, and then I wouldn’t, couldn't eat it.
This past year has been the toughest, but I decided to find a way out of the eating disorder. I had to. It destroyed my life, my boyfriend broke up with me, I got kicked out of school, I lost my friends, and my mother was miserable. Finally, I contacted my doctor, and he wrote a reference to a treatment center that took me in for three months.
At the treatment center, I was placed in a group with five other girls, a dietitian and two therapists. Though the therapists were sympathetic and knowledgable, one thing that helped me the most was talking to others who were in the same situation as myself. We did self-esteem exercises, made timelines about our lives, and talked about how we were thinking and feeling. I never imagined how great talking to others about the problem would be or feel.
My weight is now 110 lbs, and I feel much better. Now, I'm striving to find a balance. I exercise three times a week for 1 hour, and I eat six times a day. It’s a struggle not to add some extra hours on the workout schedule, and I don’t eat all six meals everyday – but I’m trying! Old habits are hard to get rid off, but I know I can do it.
Getting out of (what I call) “Anorexia-Hell”, is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’m finishing school this summer, my boyfriend and I are back together and happier than ever, and my mother, my dear mother, is no longer looking at me with a broken, worried and scared look on her face.
If you’re suffering from an eating disorder, I highly recommend treatment and that you find a supportive community like PumpUp to help you. I know it seems like an impossible thing to do, but try to talk to someone about it and talk to your doctor. You will thank yourself later in life, I can assure you that. And remember that you’re not alone.
'What eating disorders feel like' was written by PumpUp member @jessicanielsen. Have more tips to share about ways to boost your self-esteem? Let us know in the comments below!