This is something that I have wanted to share for so long, but have been too scared to post. I guess that fear comes from a feeling that I may be judged, or maybe seen in a different light, but I believe that my story is not so unlike many others, and if it can help one person seek help, or even just not feel so alone in their own battle, then I feel that the fear is worth overcoming.
I was diagnosed with an eating disorder when I was 17 years old. Orthorexia Nervosa to be exact. Orthorexia is not a well known eating disorder, and is kind of a fairly new thing, so if you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry, I didn’t even know it was a thing until my diagnosis. Orthorexia can be described as a severe obsession around health, eating “clean foods”, exercise etc. Basically it is where a person becomes so fixated on being “healthy” that they become incredibly unhealthy. Pretty backwards hey! But that is the predicament that I found myself in. I started eating clean around the middle of 2013, and by the start of 2014 it had just become out of control. I had a certain routine that I needed to stick to, and if I strayed it would cause massive amounts of anxiety and fear. I had lost my ability to feed myself in a natural, healthy, intuitive way, and it was terrifying. I was tired all of the time, I lacked concentration, and I always felt cold. It was horrible, but little did I know that the worst was yet to come…
At the start of 2014 I moved out of home, I started uni, and I began a new job, all within about 4 weeks. This threw my routine completely out of whack and the anxiety was at an all time high. I began binge eating. Ah man… I find that so difficult to say. There seems to be such a stigma around binge eating disorder. But anyway, I began to eat. I ate all the foods that my body had been craving for so long. Thats the thing about restriction – your body becomes desperate for calories, and sooner or later that survival instinct kicks in. The more that I binged, the more that I hated myself, and the more that I felt the need to eat. As the weight started creeping back on, the depression kicked in. This time was the lowest point that I have ever experienced… I cannot even describe that darkness.
My weight would yo-yo for the next few months, until I was so horrified at the way I looked that I started to diet again. The diet would last a few weeks, maybe a month or two if I was lucky, and then those urges to binge would return and I would find myself in a deeper hole, feeling hopeless, worthless, and disgusting…
By the end of 2015 I had had enough, and decided that I needed to lose weight. I didn’t care what it took – I needed to lose the weight. So I started to restrict my food intake. I would skip meals, exercise excessively, and weigh myself continuously. Once again I found myself in this obsessive world where my mood was determined by the number that showed up on the scales. My hair began to fall out, I went into a state of amenorrhoea (the absence of a period), and I struggled once again with concentrating, and basically doing anything. This went on for a few months, and then the binging began again and I felt the whole cycle repeating itself.
I felt defeated. I felt that I would never feel happy with my weight, and that I would always be “overweight”. I felt that I could never be healthy, or learn how to eat properly, like a normal person (whatever that even means). I felt stuck, and alone.
These experiences are what has brought me on the journey that I am on today. I am needing to re-learn what it means to listen to my body, to eat when I am hungry and to stop when I am full. I have learnt the dangers of diets, and the detrimental effects that they have on the body. My main focus right now is to heal my relationship with food, no matter what that may do to my weight, because I have found out the hard way that losing weight will not make you happy. Everywhere we look we are told that if we lose the weight we will be happier, more successful, a better partner, spouse, and parent. We are told that we will be better people, and I am here to tell you that it simply is not true. Weight does not determine who you are. It does not express the kindness of your soul, or the love in your heart.
This journey has brought me more happiness than I ever thought possible! I feel freedom in my body. I feel joyful and at peace. I am able to go out with my friends without stressing about what the restaurant has. Ditching dieting has been the best thing that has ever happened to me.
So I know that this has been a pretty long post, but I really just want to encourage you – if you feel alone in your battle right now, you are not. My desire for everyone reading this is that you will feel love for your body, that you will treat it with respect and loving kindness always, and that you will feel joy when you see yourself in the mirror.
Love and light to you all,