Hello, my lovely friends!
Trigger Warning: Eating Disorders.
This week in the United States is #NEDAWeek (National Eating Disorder Awareness Week).
I want to talk about this today is less of a factual, “citing my sources” type of manner. I want to tell you my story in the most honest way possible.
This post is all over the place, but it’s genuine from the heart.
I have talked about my experiences with disordered eating and body image issues on IIB in the past (See: Transparency and Vulnerability On The Bad Days, You Can Accept Your Body Without Being In Love With How You Look & Your Beauty Is The Least Interesting Thing About You).
I have so much to say that when I write about this topic I get overwhelmed. It’s emotional, and I feel like I could write a book’s worth of content talking about my experiences and what I have learned along the way.
This post is a prose/poem/personal narrative/monologue kind of thing (I honestly don’t know what to call it) that I wrote several months ago on a day that was a bit difficult for me. It was cathartic for me to write, and I hope that it can help people feel heard.
Recovery doesn’t look just one way. I’m doing it and you can too.
I’ve learned that I’m really not alone in struggling with this; so many people do in many different ways. There is no one definition of healthy.
I’ve learned that recovery for me is about balance, kindness, and accountability. Unlike a lot of my friends or people that I follow on social media, I have to see a nutritionist, log my food/exercise/sleep, and wear a FitBit. These are things that help me be okay. It doesn’t make me weird to do these things. These are some of the ways that I take care of my health.
This morning I went to my nutritionist and she told me she’s proud of how I’m doing right now. I’m in a place of my life where I can eat a donut if I want one; I’ve reached a point where I don’t feel guilty for consuming those calories, but I also am able to stop at one. That’s all progress for me. I have days when I do really well and cook healthy foods for myself, and other days I don’t cook at all. Every day and week is different. I’m in college, and I’m trying my best.
I could go on forever, and I definitely plan to talk about more specific topics under this big umbrella in the future on IIB. Please let me know if you’d like me to talk more about this topic area, or if you have any specific requests.
With that, here is what I wrote. It’s extremely vulnerable and personal, and it was written on a day that I didn’t feel super great. I encourage you to share your stories vulnerably. That’s something I’m working on doing more. Here it goes.
What does “the fat girl” have to say about eating disorders?
Actually, a lot.
The story begins in a cluttered tile kitchen in the outskirts of Madrid.
I was six years old, sassy, and told to be quiet every time I call the wall tiles ugly.
I was never told to be quiet when I called myself ugly.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
One night we were sitting at the dinner table at my grandmother’s house and my cousin began to choke on a fish bone.
My grandfather removed the bone from my cousin’s throat with his finger.
We continued eating dinner like nothing had just happened.
My grandmother continued making fish every night that summer, despite my sassy six-year-old self declaring an anti-fish protest.
You can guess how that went.
The hunger I learned that summer was one I’d never felt before, but would later become all too familiar with.
When I went home after that summer with my grandparents, I ate pretty much everything in sight.
I usually don’t tell people this part of the story because this is when they start deciding that it’s all my fault.
My body grew, and it seemed to be all that anybody could talk about.
I became used to people using the word “fat” to describe me more often than they used my name.
At age 11 I did the cabbage soup diet for the first time.
The tastes of celery and cabbage made me gag, and the diet was intended for heart patients, but I ate the soup anyway.
Instead of the cafeteria, I’d go to the library at lunch.
I ripped up my sandwich on the walk from the bus stop to my house and thought I was being a good citizen of the world by feeding the squirrels instead of myself.
I lost a lot of weight, definitely more than I needed to, but people started congratulating me.
They congratulated on my “discipline and success,” which made me want to do this even more.
But the type of discipline it takes as an 11 year old to follow a diet meant for heart patients is one that never ends well.
From here the story goes as most of the similar sort do.
I went through spells of starvation, then binge eating, then more starvation, then more binge eating.
Throw in some clinical depression, a “me too” story, and being an adolescent, and you have yourself a situation.
I hit rock bottom at age 16, and began recovery the year later.
I don’t talk about rock bottom because, honestly, I’m still not over it.
When I look in the mirror and dislike what I see, sometimes I wish I looked like I used to then.
I have to remind myself that rock bottom was all destruction, even if it was in small clothes with boys telling me I was pretty.
Recovery led to a double digit amount of pounds being added back onto my body, and people not exactly being nice about it.
It’s pretty messed up how my illness was praised, and my recovery treated like a downfall.
But that’s the world that we live in.
I’ll never accept it.
But I’ve come to accept that I need to figure out how to survive in it.
Sometimes, even still, I eat raw spinach leaves straight out of the bag and call it dinner.
Other times the bag is full of potato chips until it isn’t.
It depends on the type of insecure that I’m feeling that day.
I try not to talk to the girl who I used to be.
She scares me, but sometimes she just needs to be fed.
Recovery looks like soup with less cabbage and more noodles in it.
Recovery looks like feeling a hungry growl in my stomach and feeding the wolf instead of starving it to piss it off even more.
Recovery looks like knowing how to tell myself that’s enough.
Recovery looks like asking the nurse at the doctor’s office not to tell me the number on the scale.
I’m almost 4 years into recovery.
I’m making healthier, kinder, and more intuitive choices most of the time.
I look up at the old blue tiles on my grandmother’s kitchen wall all these years later and see the beauty in how long they’ve hung on.
I think they are beautiful.
I look down at the bowl of soup in front of me and smile as I slurp the rest of the noodle into my mouth.
Everything will be okay.
This is a photo from when my blog turned 4 years old (February 11th, 2019).
My first reaction when I saw this image was disgust at my “double chin.” My friend encouraged me to post this photo because self love and confidence regardless of what I look like is what this blog is all about.
This is me. I am worthy and strong.
You are worthy and strong.
Happy #NEDAWeek 2019.
With so much love,
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