They’re not glamorous. They’re not a lifestyle and they are most definitely not a selfish illness.
I want this post to really inform people as to why eating disorders make a person sensitive and even stubborn in some aspects from my own personal experiences. I may look healthy but this mental illness can cause devastating physical results.
I’ve been suffering with eating disorders for nearly seven years of my life due to bullying and body shaming. Within that time, I’ve come to realise that illnesses aren’t always visible.
I have an eating disorder that is formally known as Bulimia Nervosa. This eating disorder consists of three main stages. Starving, binge eating and then purging. Whenever I purge, I never vomit. I never use laxatives. Instead I do excessive exercise to the point where I feel like I am going to pass out. I feel like I am in control yet I never feel good enough. So I carry on.
This can definitely frustrate people around me, like my family, boyfriend and even friends as they can see the damage I am doing to my body.
Yet I can’t. I am blind.
I went from 13st to 6st in a matter of months.
Even then I still felt ‘fat’. I had my first serious relationship when I was 16/17 and my boyfriend at the time could see me changing. He could see that I wasn’t happy with myself and therefore the relationship ended, which caused me to go downhill even more.
My parents would constantly try to reassure me and try to help, but I would push them away and never believe their honest words. To a certain extent, I still don’t. No matter how healthy a person with an eating disorder may look or how happy they may seem, there’s always bulimia or anorexia nagging in their brain.
Some days I don’t eat anything and will not even exercise. I’ll just starve myself. I will sit there in agony as my stomach churns. I’ll also feel weak and dizzy.
Other days, I will eat one meal and burn off the calories excessively. I remember eating something as healthy as celery and feeling deathly afraid of putting on any weight because of it. So the extreme exercise kicked in again. I always see food as the enemy.
All I want is to feel good and comfortable with myself.
And in my mind, purging feels like the right way to approach it. No matter how awful and superficial it may seem.
I can definitely put my food away though, which I’m sure many others can do while suffering. I can go to a restaurant and eat until I feel uncomfortably full. I’ll paint that smile of satisfaction on my face and act like all is good.
Then I will go home and feel disgusted with myself. Disgusted because I lost control. Disgusted because I can see every fold on my body getting bigger and bigger. Disgusted because I can’t see my ribs.
Others may be able to see my excessive weight loss or weight gain. And if someone with an eating disorder ever says that they feel ‘fat’ please don’t even say ‘If you’re fat, then what does that make me?’ because the majority of the time, eating disorders don’t define everyone’s body type or size.
They just define the person suffering.
You could be beautiful to that person. Yet they could be ashamed of themselves. The best thing is to be patient. Patience is key.
Having my son in 2014 was definitely a huge stepping stone towards recovery. I feel like I have a purpose and I feel distracted. I feel important to someone. I just find it hard to believe that I created something so beautiful as I see myself as the complete opposite. Bulimia still knows how to make its appearance though, which definitely sucks.
In the midst of suffering with bulimia, I’ve got a huge support group. I have amazing family and friends and an absolutely wonderful boyfriend who loves me for who I am, which is what everyone suffering with a mental or physical illness should have.
Unfortunately, this mental illness seems to restrict you from seeing what others see in you and often causes irritation to you and those around you as no one truly knows what goes on inside your mind. Not even you.
This seems to be a very common thing with eating disorders in particular. Everyone wants to help you recover, yet a part of you will always need to cling onto your control over food. No matter how unhealthy it is.
If you know someone who is suffering with this mental illness, my advice is to take your time and be patient. Recovery doesn’t happen over night. In fact, recovery is never set in stone once you have sort of reached that stage.
I still haven’t reached it and as much as I want to, it’s so difficult to turn my back on being so strict and in control of myself.
Eating disorders are tough, just like all invisible illnesses and visible ones too. Providing a shoulder to cry on or just listening can do wonders. I truly admire people who feel confident in their skin. I hope to be like that one day. But for now, patience will have to do.
Words by Bekah Wilson