For as long as I can remember, I always had problems with eating and with the way I viewed my body. It all started with my mother, who was suffering from addiction. She was 40 years old and less than 100 pounds. I grew up admiring her for her beauty because as my mother, she was somebody who I idolized. She left when I was 12 years old and at that time, my eating disorder took the form of my mother in my life. It manifested itself in my head, causing me to think if I were skinnier she would come back to me. Ever since that day, my eating disorder took a permanent place in my life, filling the void my mother left.
Eating disorders are complex. They aren’t one thing — they take different shapes and forms for everybody. For me, I suffered from anorexia and bulimia nervosa. My eating disorder built a home in my brain, constantly reminding me it was there and had control over me. It started off small, skipping one meal or working out an extra 30 minutes. I thought I was in control over what I was doing to my body, but the more I restricted my eating, the easier it became to limit myself to less and less food.
The more weight I was losing, the more I was losing who I was until I didn’t know the girl looking back at me in the mirror, but I couldn’t stop. Skipping one meal turned into skipping all 3 and a 30 minute workout turned into constantly finding times to squeeze in workouts. Every calorie was carefully calculated to make sure my body didn’t intake more than 200 calories a day. While I kept losing weight, it was never enough in my head — the numbers could get lower and lower but it was never enough. I was able to keep it undercover until one day I wasn’t. I was getting ready for my soccer game and everything started getting fuzzy, suddenly everything went black and I woke up in the hospital.
I had no idea what was happening, but once I saw an IV in my arm, I knew what they were doing to me. They were filling my body with nutrients and calories and it felt like I was going to explode. I kept telling everybody I was fine, that I just didn’t eat that day because I was busy and nervous for the game. I put on such a show that even I tricked myself into thinking that I was fine, when I knew there was so much more happening to me.
I forced my dad and my step mom to take me home, but things changed forever. I was forced into therapy, to see a nutritionist, and we were to sit down and eat meals together so they could make sure I was eating. I couldn’t take it. My eating disorder was destroying me from the inside out. Every calorie I ate seemed like it was going to destroy me and the progress I made. I knew I needed a way to get rid of all the calories my family was forcing down my throat. I felt like a freak, being watched at dinner, my parents making my plate. It was like I was trapped in a bad dream.
That’s when it happened — I started purging. My eating disorder took over my life. It infested itself into my brain and into my life. It stopped me from doing so many things I loved to do. I thought I had control over how many calories my body consumed, but I realized it made the control over me and I couldn’t stop it because I didn’t know how.
I knew if I wanted to live, I had to be honest with myself. An eating disorder isn’t something that ever goes away but it is something that you can gain control over. There are still days when I purge and still days when I have trouble eating — that feeling may never go away, but the feeling will decrease the more you believe in yourself. Having an eating disorder may always be apart of you, but it doesn’t have to define you. You are more than your eating disorder.
Written by Kayleigh Hurley