Thank you to BetterHelp.com for sponsoring this post. Two of their links have been included in the article below. I received compensation from BetterHelp as a thank-you for my participation, and believe including links like this may be of help to some.
I remember going into my sophomore year of college thinking about how I “had” to lose some weight to run faster than my freshman year. I had gotten to the point where I thought only weight loss would keep me at the top.
Although I was at my thinnest, I was not just skin and bones. I didn’t starve for days-on-end. I never fainted or ended up in the hospital. In fact, I began gaining weight that sophomore year. Because I was gaining weight while struggling with food, I felt it was not “that bad” of an eating disorder, if an eating disorder at all.
As I look back at my earliest journal entries from almost three years ago (right before college) I can see everything clearer than ever. I’m surprised to see how trapped I really was:
“I’m obsessing over food, and I need a way out. I’m so frustrated and consumed by weight loss! I guess it’s finally the time to admit it…I don’t want to think about it all the time. It’s controlling my life! I want other things to make me excited and happy, not food! I’m not overweight, but I’m scared to gain weight—especially in college. I want to eat healthy and feel okay with the food in college.”
“I want to be myself and really open up in college. I want to be that energetic, happy person again. I’ve been feeling so sluggish and lazy for a while now. . . where’s my motivation? I’m glued to the computer, trying to find the secrets to weight loss. I’m on it constantly.”
“The obsession has got to die down a bit. I want to continue to be healthy, just not obsessed with it, thinking about it all the time. I figured writing this all out would help, right?”
“It’s weird because I couldn’t really share my excitement with losing weight with anyone. For some reason, I just feel like it’s a big secret of mine. I guess I just don’t want anyone freaking out because they already thought I was ‘skinny’ to begin with due to my running.”
It was clear that my obsession and anxiety (link sponsored by BetterHelp) around food was taking over every thought of my day. I couldn’t focus on anything else, and there was a part of me that felt I couldn’t pull myself away no matter how badly the real Rachael wanted to get out.
“You Don’t Really Have This”
There is still a battle in my mind that says it isn’t real, that I’m just making it up, or that I’m over-exaggerating. And then here I am counting calories or scared to eat anything outside my “safe” zone, or uncomfortable eating in front of others and constantly fear gaining weight or getting out of control. Most of these fears have lessened now, so there is an improvement. But I guess that just goes to show how difficult everything was for a while.
Unfortunately, too many of us can relate. It’s sad how many stories I’ve heard from others about how they struggle with their own eating disorders. Now, each time I sit down to eat with friends, family, or strangers, I realize I may not be the only one battling these thoughts.
Phase or Illness?
This past year I admitted to someone that I was writing about struggling with an eating disorder. Her response? “Yeah, I think every girl sort of goes through that.”
I was surprised to feel a rush of frustration with this comment. To me, it felt like she assumed it was like a “stage” everyone just goes through. Like a little hiccup in the road. It made me feel that an eating disorder wasn’t “that bad”–something I’ve been telling myself for so long. And now, I’ve been trying to tell myself that this is important enough to address and talk about.
I know this may say more about my mindset right now, but I guess I want to feel validated–that this isn’t just a “phase” or passing feeling.
This is a common issue–so common now that we seem to blow it off or just don’t want to approach it. But by coming to grips with this eating disorder, I was better able to tackle it once and for all. I was able to give a name for my fear, embarrassment, shame, and confusion.
I was able to get help. (Link sponsored by BetterHelp).
If you are dealing with any type of eating disorder, be it minor or seemingly “insignificant,” know that the sooner you get help or talk or let someone know, the easier it is to pull yourself out. Because even if it seems “minor” or “insignificant” now, it has the chance to get worse. The longer you wait, the longer it will take to recover.
I can’t even begin to explain how scared, vulnerable, and exposed I felt starting this blog–especially because I have been exposing an eating disorder (binge eating) that hadn’t even classified as an eating disorder in the DSM until THIS year. Binge eating was the biggest wake-up call of my life. And it was perhaps that (as a part of the raw food diet and my injury) that opened my eyes and helped me to speak up for the first time.
Writing out “eating disorder” next to my name on the internet made me cringe. But once it was posted, I felt there was no turning back. In a mental illness seemingly all about self-control, it is now clear that something bigger than me was taking control. That is how I began to see that I did indeed have an eating disorder.