Disordered eating is something that is still so taboo, that I even feel shame talking about it. It took me months to shed the guilt and shame that came with my depression but eventually I did. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to a point in my recovery from disordered eating that I’ll feel comfortable talking about it. Opening up about stigmatized topics is the very reason I have this blog, so that I can break down those walls. Quite simply, the thought of telling my story of an over 10-year struggle with disordered eating scares the crap out of me. Nonetheless, I’m going to try because it is very much a part of my mental health problems. (deep breaths in and out as I type this and then post!)
Is it anymore stigmatized than mental health? I’m not sure because to me, they’re one in the same. If it weren’t for my mental health issues, I can confidentially say I wouldn’t struggle with food so much. And if it wasn’t for my eating disorder I feel certain I wouldn’t struggle as much as I do with mental health. For me, they go hand in hand. Much like anxiety and depression do. You rarely get one without the other. I think mental health illnesses can turn into such a snowball effect. I started getting panic attacks, then severe anxiety, which in turn lead to debilitating depression. But my eating disorder is something that has never wavered; it’s been a constant battle through everything else.
I have struggled with disordered eating since I was 8. Yes, you read that right. That’s over half of my life and that fact doesn’t fall short on me. In fact, it’s something that clouds my everyday feelings towards food. They go through phases of obsessive and restrictive to careless. I’ve binged, I’ve binged and purged, and I’ve starved myself. Anything that can possibly be done, I’ve done. And for the last few years, it’s usually been an alternate phase of binging and starving. It is exhausting. It is draining. It is heartbreaking. It’s a never-ending cycle of hating yourself in different ways. I get better for a while but then always fall back into old habits. It can often times be addicting (in the worst possible way) and even though it feels horrible, something in my brain makes it seem near impossible to quit.
In many ways, I have never known what it’s like to live a life without an eating disorder. It didn’t start with full on starving etc. at 8 but I had weird behaviours that eventually lead to the habits I have today. However it’s manifesting at the time, it’s still an eating disorder. Even typing those words make my stomach churn. They’re looked down on and eye rolls are the typical response because looking at me, you don't see someone who fits the image of an eating disorder. Yet, flipping those two words the other way round makes me feel better. Disordered eating. It sounds more normal, less clinical and medical. Which ever way I say it to make myself feel better, it is still a problem. Eating disorders consume your life and suck away any shred of confidence and self-love.
There have been many days that I have sat in tears for hours upon hours loathing every part of my body. Hating every inch of fat and every stretch mark. In particularly bad phases, I used to even fake sick and not go to school. I couldn’t bare the thought of anyone looking at me. I couldn’t bare the thought of having to find something to wear and scrutinizing myself. I couldn't eat in front of anyone for months for the fear that I was being judged for eating, when in reality people were judging me more for not eating. I couldn’t ignore how big of a problem it had become when I wouldn’t want to go to school or go out in public. To feel that ashamed of yourself is a pain that is completely indescribable.
You don’t ever realise how much it consumes you until you are sat in front of the mirror, sobbing wishing to some extent you didn’t have to exist. That’s where my depression came into play. My body image issues sent me into a spiral of suicidal thoughts more often than anything else. I have gotten help believe me I have. I have been to several therapists yet nothing clicked. My eating disorder has never rendered me ill to the point of being hospitalised. I am overweight, which is often overlooked when talking about ED’s, we all think of the scarily thin person but that isn’t always the case. But mentally, it has sent me into states of mind that I can’t even put into words. I don’t even like thinking about those times. I’m sure, it has definitely impacted my physical health- no, I know for a fact that it has but mentally it has destroyed me for years. I've spent years destroying my body to silence my mind and I'm just starting to understand that this isn't going to be a sustainable way to live. 12 years fighting my body is a hell of a long time and I'm finally get ready to try recovery again for what may be the 1,000th time.
There isn’t a day where I don’t catch my face in the mirror and my brain automatically starts counting calories and my mind just screams FAT. It’s all I see, 24/7 and if that isn’t tiring, I don’t know what is it. It's gotten better in some ways but it's still there and very much a part of everyday life for me. This post doesn’t have a happy conclusion or some epiphany that I’ve come to realise over the 12 years I’ve battled this. That is the very beginning of my story and my feelings towards life with an ED. However, I think I’ve taken the biggest step today. I’ve opened up about something most people don't know about. And in some ways, maybe that’s the only bit of hope there is within this post.
Hey there, I'm Jasmine, your average 23 year old working in childcare and living in England. Maybe Tomorrow follows my journey living with mental health issues and multiple chronic health conditions, all whilst trying to have some fun along the way.
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