In today’s post I’m going to open up about how my eating disorder developed and how I slowly recovered. I know that this is a very sensitive topic, so if you’re uncomfortable reading about my eating disorder and the recovery process, please skip this post. This post may be triggering, so please use your discretion when deciding whether or not to read this.
This is MY personal story, so please keep that in mind when you’re reading this.
While I was in elementary school and high school, I didn’t have bad body image. I didn’t think twice about what or how much food I was consuming, I didn’t care that my legs looked “overly musular”, and I never had negative thoughts when I looked at myself in the mirror. I didn’t wear makeup until the end of 12th grade and my main priorities included: sports, the cooking club, my grades, and having fun with my friends and family. I wasn’t full of myself and I didn’t think that I was or looked better than anyone else, I just accepted what I looked like and that was that.
I was pretty active growing up and in high school I ran long distance on a cross country team, ran relay races on a track and field team, played defence on 2 field hockey teams, and was in a rigorous conditioning program. In college I stayed active by running, playing recreational field hockey and dodgeball, dancing, and continuing with the conditioning program. While my friends went to the gym, I stayed home because in my mind I was already very active and going to the gym would have been redundant.
Halfway through my freshman year of college, I joined a sorority and got really into makeup. I started talking to some of my sisters about makeup and hair products and they opened my eyes to the wonderful world of beauty blogging. (PS, this was when phase 1 of pandamoniumpink.com was born.) I was happily blogging about beauty and skincare every single day and I eventually started a YouTube channel.
At this time, unfortunately, my grades started to suffer because I hated going to classes and I was no longer interested in my area of study. I didn’t know what I wanted to do career wise, I quit the majority of the sporting activities that I was a part of, I was put on probation in my sorority for poor grades, and my relationship with my boyfriend was struggling. It was a lot to deal with at 18 and back then, when things didn’t turn out the way that they should have, I shut down mentally.
The following December I withdrew my admission at college and I isolated myself from my friends and family. I gained weight, I had a lot of acne, and I spent most of my time cooped up in my room doing absolutely nothing. I still put on a happy face when I was blogging and YouTubing, but I wasn’t really the same person.
Half a year later, I went back to college and decided to give it another shot. I met a friend who was a gym enthusiast and I decided to join the community centre gym close to where I lived. I went purely to use the cardio machines in hopes to lose the extra weight that I had gained, and didn’t think twice about the free weights or any of the weight training machines. As I started to lose the weight, people started to notice. They complemented my efforts and I took that as a badge of approval.
I was happy that I had lost a significant amount of weight, but I knew that I that I could lose more. I did an excessive amount of cardio (2 hours a day) every single day, sometimes 2-3 times a day, and I eventually withered away to nothing. At the same time, I harshly restricted my eating by counting calories and skipping breakfast and lunch most days, I threw up anything that I had eaten that I thought was fatty, and I developed an unhealthy relationship with my body and food. I looked at the mirror whenever I had the chance and had negative thoughts racing through my head 24/7. In my mind, I wasn’t working hard enough. I still wasn’t skinny and I was failing all of my weight loss goals.
I was in therapy at the time being treated for anxiety and depression and whenever the topic of body image came up, I would lie and say that I was perfectly fine. I wore baggy sweatshirts to hide my extreme weight loss (plus, I was cold 24/7) and I used makeup and self tanning tricks to make my skin glow and appear healthy. I avoided any social gathering that revolved around food and I put myself on 2 liquid diets. I was down to weighing 85 pounds while being at the height of 5’5.
Oh, I also ran a half marathon on an empty stomach while weighing 90 pounds. I do not recommend doing that AT ALL and it has to be one of the dumbest things that I have EVER done.
One day, I had dinner with a concerned friend and he said, “I’m not leaving until you finish my meal that I ordered.” I had ordered just a drink and he had ordered a bowl of chicken wings, a baked pasta, and a bread basket. Hearing him say that was my breaking point and I started crying right there at the table. I was crying because I knew that what I was doing to my body was wrong, I thought that I had let my family and friends down, and I was scared. I was really, really scared.
After that dinner, I got help. My therapy included eating disorder recovery and I went to my sessions 5-6 times a week, plus a group therapy session 1 time a week. My parents and friends monitored my eating habits and I stopped going to the gym. I started eating whole foods, and was slowly gaining the weight back.
After about 8 months of treatment, I stumbled upon my friend Amanda’s Instagram account. She was lifting heavy, eating properly to fuel her body, and was building muscle. She defied the stereotype that girls shouldn’t lift at the gym, and I was proud of her accomplishments and amazed that someone could transform their body in that way. She proved that going to the gym didn’t have to be a harmful activity and I literally said out loud to my therapist, “Amanda has inspired me to become healthy. I need to eat to get those kinds of results.”
Long story short, I created an Instagram account and began my fitness journey to recovery. I ate 5 meals a day, I hired a personal trainer to work with me on strength training (I actually recommend working with a trainer or someone who knows what they’re doing if you’re someone who is just starting out at the gym. Not only will it benefit you in the long run, but you will also be less prone to injury.), and I didn’t really do any cardio. I met the most motivating and inspiring people on Instagram who I’m very fortunate to call my friends, family and life preservers.
As of December 2015, I have officially restored my weight. I’m currently sitting at 122 pounds and I’m feeling great about my body. I know that I’m mentally and physically in a healthy and good place and my body image is fantastic. I still get comments from people telling me that I’ve gained weight or that I look heavier than I used to, and honestly I take that as a complement because I NEEDED to gain weight.
Anyway, that’s my recovery story. I’m still on a mission to gain more weight, I’m still working hard at the gym, and I’m still going to therapy (2x a week). I have big, healthy goals for myself and I’m proud of my fitness journey thus far.
If you want to follow my fitness journey via picture form, check out my Instagram account because I post on there quite often!
I hope you enjoyed hearing my eating disorder recovery story and if you’re struggling with an eating disorder, know of someone who is, or want to talk to someone, please call 310-6789, which is the BC, Canada Crisis line that is open 24 hours a day. To learn more, check out: http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/factsheet/eatingdisorders#sthash.9vuSPNFV.dpuf