Why I Can Now Thank My Battle With an Eating Disorder
“The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius
I still remember the day I forced myself to throw up for the first time.
I was sitting at home on the couch watching my favourite TV show at the time ‘Home and Away’. I was 13 and there was a young girl on the screen not much older than me who was anxious about her weight. It had just been someone’s birthday on the show and there was a giant chocolate cake in the fridge which she took to her room and engulfed. Ashamed, she quickly ran to the bathroom, stuck her fingers down her throat and forced every last bit back up again.
As ridiculous as it seems now, it’s like a light bulb went off in my mind that day. I thought to myself, ‘If she can eat delicious sweets and still stay thin by forcing herself to throw up then, that’s what I will do too.’ And so I did.
That day lead to me to an extremely lonely 10 year battle with bulimia. I spent my days pretending I was happy, healthy and confident yet, at night and on the weekends, I would waste hours binging on any junk food I could get my hands on – chips, packets of biscuits, cake and giant bowls of granola smothered in all of my favorite toppings.
I thought I was so clever and I got away with it, so it happened over and over and over.
Post binge, I’d wake up feeling disgusted with myself. ‘How could I have possibly let it happen again.’ I’d start each day by vowing to myself that I was going to consume no more than 1200 calories that day (because to me, 1200 was the magic number). Yet, by 3 O’clock in the afternoon, I was already planning my next binge. Dreaming of all of the delicious foods I was going to pig out on as soon as I go home from work.
It was like there were 2 different people living inside of me. The rational, smart, I have my life together character and then this monster who would snatch away any last scrap of self control I had, leaving me a broken down, helpless little girl.
There were times when I thought the relentless cycle would never end. It’s hard to imagine a life any different when you’re gripped by a disease so tight that it consumes your every waking thought.
Overtime, I began to realize how damaging my behavior was. The years of pounding headaches, dizziness, mood swings and stomach cramps were a constant reminder.
And, what about when I wanted to have kids, what kind of an example was I setting for them?
I knew that peace with myself had to come from within. No one else could help me if I didn’t want to help myself first. So, with that in mind, I slowly began to take the steps I needed to heal.
How I changed my life
Due to the complex nature of eating disorders, there is no one size fits all cure so, I had to figure out what worked for me.
I started by working on the relationship I had with myself and the relationship I had with food. Finally, I began to see that food was not the enemy. It was there to nourish and support me, not to act as the source of endless misery.
I read books, I journaled and I went to see a hypnotherapist who worked to re-train my subconscious mind. I started doing things from a place of love instead of fear. I stopped forcing myself to exercise for hours to make up for all of the bad food choices I’d made. I adopted a diet full of real, whole foods and I started exercising because I enjoyed it and it made me feel good.
Through the healing process I became more mindful and grew to be more compassionate toward myself and toward others. Louise Hay’s affirmation ‘I love and accept myself’ became my mantra and I would repeat it in my mind whenever negative thoughts tried to take over.
Today, I can see that my struggles of the past were a gift. Through my recovery I learned more about myself than I ever knew possible and if I didn’t experience what I did, I wouldn’t have grown into the happy, healthy person that I am today.
How you can change
1. Stop letting your negative thoughts and beliefs hold you back.
Your inner critic will try to convince you not to change. It will try to convince you that it’s easier to stay where you are and you will stay miserable. Only you have the power to shut that voice out.
2. Think about the life you truly want.
Where do you want to be 5 or 10 years from now? Picture yourself there – are your current behaviours guiding you in that direction?
3. Choose one small thing you can take action on today
What is one thing you can do that will bring you one step closer to where you actually want to be? Start now. Small actionable steps are what it will take. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it, it will SO be worth it.
Have you or someone you know had an eating disorder? Please share your experiences in the comments below.
Photo by daniellehelm