Growing Up with an Eating Disorder

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When did it happen? When did I lose it? My innocence… My childhood… Myself? When was the moment everything changed forever? When was the moment I let this disorder in and take away the little girl inside me? When was the exact time; the exact moment. I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you when this all happened. I was only a kid. I had a good childhood but there are good and bad things that I can remember so clearly. There are also good and bad memories that seem to disappear as I get older and become a blur. Was I always destined to be this way? If so, when did it start? Did it start the day my mother first held me in her arms or the day I first went to high school? What was the exact moment this disease would enter into my life and affect me for the past 18 years?

We experience so many things during our time here on earth. Think of all the things you do in one year. Think of all the memories, good or bad, you’ve been through. Think about all the people who you have met along the way. Some are now your friends and some are still strangers. Think about the milestones that consumed your year… falling in love, graduating, getting married, having a baby, getting a house, getting a car, moving, going to college, going to Prom, going on adventures, meeting new people, exploring new places, etc… One year, 365 days seems like a lot of time but goes by quicker than we think. So many things happen in one year but there are certain events that can continue on for a lifetime.

I recently stumbled upon a few pictures from when I was about 16 years old and the smile on my face disappears. Have you ever looked at something that took you back to a bad place? Something that made you remember a hard time in your life? Well, these pictures made me feel this way. Looking at how sick I looked and knowing exactly how I used to feel on the day the picture was taken. Even after several years, I could still feel it. I could still feel that sad gut wrenching feeling inside of me just by looking at a picture. It is like the feeling you get when you hear a song and a million memories come rushing into your head about a specific person or event that happened in your life.

I remember always over thinking about the smallest things. I would over obsess over comments made to me and assume everyone knew about me and were constantly judging me. There are days when I try to remember the past but bits and pieces appear. Some disappearing, coming in and out of my vision. Even when I was having a good day, I would still be obsessing about who was looking at me or picking at my shirt so it didn’t attach itself to my stomach. I would work out all the time with next to nothing inside my stomach. I would push myself for hours every night and go to bed starving and having pains in my stomach from working out too much and eating nothing. In school, I would wear big sweaters even in the middle of May so I didn’t have to show my stomach or arms. I used to have dreams about my issues. I would dream that I was so lost in them with tears streaming down my face. I would ask why I couldn’t stop and why I started. I would wake up covered in sweat and fear. I would check my surroundings to make sure I had awoken from my nightmare.

I know some of these memories all too well. I’ve lived them over and over again for years. I’ve walked this path so many times just repeating my actions every chance I got. I struggled for years and sometimes I wonder why I still hold onto these memories. I am not the person I used to be and I have worked hard to become the person I am today. It has been almost five years since I decided to change my life but these memories still make an appearance in my dreams and everyday thinking. Can we ever truly let go of the past or do the memories always stay with us?

I still don’t love who I am but I am working hard to get there. My memories will always be a part of my life because they were a part of me. I can’t change my past but I can change the way I feel about it. I made a decision a few years ago to use my past issues as a positive aspect of my life. I chose to be honest and open about the things that I have struggled with and let people see a vulnerable side of me. In doing so, I was able to connect and become friends with several other girls who were struggling just as I was. Through all the negative in my life, I am able to still wake up and smile.

My life is far from figured out but I am no longer waking around with an illness weighing me down. Just like my memories, my disorders will forever be a part of me and who I am. I just choose to be happy and see my weaknesses as strengths. We all have the power to make our lives better. Something as simple as turning the negative into a positive and changing your outlook on life. We don’t need to “just get by” or struggle for the rest of our lives. If you are unsatisfied with your life, do something about it. It is never too late to try and make the life you always wanted. 18 years of struggling, turned into 5 years of taking my first step to happiness. It takes time but great things come to those who wait.

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