There is an hour left to National Eating Disorders Association Awareness Week, and I've got to say, I've easily spent the other 168 hours debating on if I wanted to write this post. I've read some amazing posts this week, including those by Gena at Choosing Raw, Rachel at Working Out Wellness and Kelli at Two Lives, One Lifestyle.
As beautiful and thought-proving as they were, none was more heart-wrenching than Love2Eat at Confessions of a Compulsive Eater's letter to her daughter. In it, she shares the letter she wrote to her ten-year old, in which she explains in a very age-appropriate way her struggles with compulsive eating.
I have never had something on the internet affect me nearly as much as this did, she did, today.
It made my decision to write this for me.
After all, she's right: you are only as sick as your secrets.
This is my story.
From what I've been told, I was a pretty happy kid - funny, bubbly, always running around and trying to be the star of the show.
I don't remember at what point that changed - when I knew I was bigger than everyone else. I do remember sneaking food in the middle of the night when everyone else was asleep, stuffing the wrappers and remnants in my drawer or under my pillow. I went on my first diet around the age of 8, by 10 I was bringing my own 'special' snacks to sleep-away camp, and by 12 I was shopping in the Misses section, fitting into a large. After dealing with the tormenting from other kids at school, my typical night ended with a bubble bath; I would read a book, cry, and devour half to a whole box of chocolates. When I was stressed, it was more.
By 13, I went to, for lack of a better term, Fat Camp.
Diets came and went, but I never got any smaller, and nothing seemed to take.
Probably because, when I was alone, I was eating anywhere from 400 to 2,000 excess calories a day. My sister and I both were being treated at an eating disorder clinic - her for being anorexic, and me for binging, or compulsive eating. Neither of us went for very long, and both of us gained weight. Good for her, bad for me. The running joke in the family was that my mom kept taking food off of my plate and piling it on my sister's.
By my Sweet 16, my dress had to be special ordered in a size 18 - no store in our area had a dress that was big enough. By 17, my aunt offered to buy me a whole new wardrobe if I lost the weight.
Looking back, I thought I was huge. Dinosaurs would look tiny in comparison. Cities would rock as I walked by, and swimming would create tidal waves. Once I turned 18 and was legally of age, my friends and I would go out 4-5 times a week, drinking 3 or 4 drinks, finishing the night with a full meal at McDonald's or the Greek restaurant. Between being tired, drunk and hours of watching my friends being approached and not me, I just kept eating, and getting bigger.
Fast-forward 4 more years - more diets, another bout at Fat Camp, and more calories than I can count. A typical night would include coming home from work, ordering enough food for 3 or 4 people, eating until I felt sick, waiting for the feeling to pass, eating more, rinse and repeat.
By May of 2008, I weighed 283 lbs, and looked every bit of it.
By October, I was almost 300 lbs.
I ate when I was happy, when I was sad, when I was angry. 24 hours a day, my thoughts were consumed with food. The way a junkie craves a fix, so did I. Nothing was ever enough for me, including myself, and I think that I was hoping or trying to fill the voids within myself with food. Food was my best friend, the one who kept me company when E and I were apart. Food would never leave me, could be trusted, was never hard to find. No matter how much I ate, how many smiles I wore, I was never filled.
I couldn't take it anymore - the pain, the sadness, the overwhelming sense of failure. I applied to be part of a local weight loss show, and thankfully was picked. Through diet and exercise, I've lost almost 70 lbs. to date, going from a size 26 to a size 18. Do you want to know something?
To me, this beautiful, happy, amazing woman who has accomplished so much in one year, is still not good enough. I am constantly beating myself down for not cutting my calories enough, not working out enough, not being skinny enough, not being GOOD ENOUGH.
Where on earth does it end? Where does it stop?!?!?!
Instead of filling the voids in my soul with food, I'm filling them with fat talk. I must be one hell of a masochist - I finally start treating my body with respect and I attack my mind and my spirit? How SICK is that?
No matter how hard I try to deny it, I have an eating disorder. Disordered eating - binging, restricting - has been a pattern that stands out loud and clear throughout my life, all of my life. It needs to stop, I need to stop, once and for all. How can I, 4 years from now, council others as an RD to make better choices and have a healthy relationship with food when I can't?
I need to treat ALL of me with respect, body and soul.
I want to be healthy, and this is the first step.
I thought I had gained 7 lbs. this week, and spent 36 miserable hours analyzing every bite that went in my mouth, every minute I didn't sweat, paralyzed that 7 lbs. were back to stay. After weighing myself again 2 days later and seeing the excess gone, I was beyond relieved, safe another day. Running into people from my past is just as painful - with every compliment, I want to reach out, screaming "can't you see how FAT I am????"
I haven't won the war, but I'm willing to fight.
I'm only as sick as my secrets - I won't hide in the fridge any more.
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