To be honest, it took me a while to think about whether I really want to write this article or not. Because, to be honest, it's hard for all of us to seem vulnerable.
But it is so normal and beneficial to "look vulnerable." It is so normal and beneficial to be human. It is so normal and beneficial to want people who are going through what you have been through to be inspired by you.
My story with eating disorders began around the age of 14. Then I wanted terribly to respect the beauty pattern imposed by society: I wanted to be thin, like the rest of my close friends. I was asking myself all kinds of questions, I didn't understand what was wrong with me, why I couldn't have their flat abdomen, or their thin legs, or their lives. I wanted to have their lives.
I gradually started to limit myself to one meal a day. Then to none. After a certain number of days of eating only half a tomato, my craving for sweets killed me and I nibbled on everything I caught. That's what the first episodes of bulimia looked like.
I didn't share this with anyone, not even my parents. I managed to be quiet enough for no one to realize that something strange was happening to me. I behaved normally around people. I preferred to suffer in silence, because I did not feel that I deserved support.
For a year and a half, I managed to control these episodes. They were rare, they only happened when I was going through a more stressful period and I ate compulsively. Until the age of 17, when everything went crazy again, the episodes came back, more and more often, more and more violent.
I was afraid of food. Salt, oil, sugar, carbohydrates, I saw everything in the form of calories. I didn't realize that these endless calculations in my mind, the thoughts that always revolved around food, about planning meals for the next few weeks, were there to distract me. From loneliness, from the fear of maturing and coming face to face with real life. I was loading my mind with something. I was loading my mind with false images, I had found a purpose to fight for, but which was irrelevant: I wanted to lose weight and that's it. I thought that would bring me happiness.
But after losing weight, I realized that I was more unhappy than ever. I realized that, in fact, I was missing so many things, and the pounds were just the pretext.
I wanted my life to no longer depend on scales, calories and meals eaten at set times.
I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be healthy, physically and mentally.
I chose myself.
Thus, as I suffered in silence, I also began to recover in silence. Every day I offered myself small challenges, such as eating a certain food or stopping to do body checking for more than two hours. I went to the gym. I started taking 10,000 steps a day, just me and the fresh air. I was no longer thinking about food. I had 3 meals a day accompanied by snacks. There were no restrictions, no body checking. I was happy with everything I had and I was, after years of inner struggle. I did it all, I didn't have it and I didn't want to have a choice. I couldn't lose myself in the process.
For you, the one who uses these toxic eating habits to forget about everyday problems: choose yourself. It's not the pounds that make you unhappy. It's not the food makes you unhappy. It's not the exercises that make you unhappy. There was something else inside you. Something else to be solved. Do not give up. You are strong. Or if you feel that you are not, you will become. You are not alone, you have us on your side.
[This blog article was written by Rethink Mental Health Advocate, Bianca Parker]