Saturday, September 12, 2015
I don't know why, but before then, I had never noticed women's bodies. I was never concerned with weight or how I looked, for that matter, but that year something in my mind changed drastically. I remember the day, like it was yesterday, that I looked in the mirror and cried because my eleven year-old mind was concerned with the "chubby tummy" and round face that I had. I began comparing myself to the girls at school and was determined to change the way I looked. That's when it all began.
Everyday, I weighed myself almost hourly when I was home and limited my food intake to handfuls of cheerios, or chocolate chips when I needed some sugar. I became obsessed with exercise, and loved the days when people told me that I wasn't a chubby child anymore. I honestly never thought that there was anything wrong with what I was doing. Back then, I had never even heard the term, eating disorder.
Not long after, we moved back to Iowa, where we had lived a previous time, and I was greeted by people who kept asking me how I had gotten so skinny. Little did they know that they just added fuel to my fire to continue. In my mind, I heard their comments but I didn't understand what they were seeing, because I was no where close to the number on the scale that I wanted to be. The hardest part was that I saw the smiles on everyone's face when they commented on how skinny I was, but no one noticed that I wasn't eating.
It was a weird cycle, where I would go months without eating very much and then I would be normal for a while. Now that I think about it, I never thought I had a problem because it was kind of, off and on, whether it was a year or three months.
When we moved back to California, I didn't struggle as badly as I had in the past, but it all came rushing back the summer after senior year.
I had decided to go to a film school in Los Angeles for the summer when I had the realization that I wasn't as thin as I wanted to be. I was afraid to go to LA and be the chunky girl at school so I slipped back into bad habits. I lost a little bit of weight, but by the time I left I wasn't where I wanted to be. When I arrived in LA I came to the quick realization that not eating was not an option, due to everyone usually eating together. For the first time in my life, I began to struggle with bulimia, but even then I didn't think I had a problem, because it only lasted a couple of months.
Fast forward almost two years. . . I had decided to go on a mission for my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and I was called to the Italy, Milan mission. I was ecstatic, and nervous. There was a lot of preparation that needed to be done, especially with clothing. While my mom and I were gathering things, we talked with a woman who had served in the mission that I would serve in and she said, "Don't be scared to gain 15 or so pounds on your mission." I played it off like it didn't matter in the moment, but I began planning in my head. If the average weight gain was 15 pounds I was going to lose that before I left. I began exercising excessively and eating barely anything as the date for me to leave approached.
About three weeks before I left, I had a complete meltdown in front of my mom in the car. I began, kind of, explaining to her the way I felt about my body and how I was struggling to love myself, and she suggested that I postpone my mission to deal with some of my problems. At the time, that sounded like the worst idea ever, so I hid my emotions until I had to leave. In my mind, I told myself that I would stop restricting calories when my mission started because I would be walking so much that It wouldn't matter.
I entered the Missionary Training Center, October 29, 2015, and received my first companion who would be with me 24/7 for the next six weeks and then I would receive another companion when I arrived in Italy. I never planned for how hard it would be to have someone watch everything you eat, and tell you that you weren't eating enough. I found a quick solution to the problem, and relapsed back into bulimia.
It wasn't until I got my second companion that she seemed to notice that I had been purging, but I always had some kind of response that usually involved around me being sick in some way. I quickly found ways around people noticing and got better at hiding it.
About seven months in, I began having serious chest pain, and my cheeks would constantly be swollen from purging. I couldn't stop the destructive thoughts from entering my head, and I couldn't stop my disordered eating behaviors. It was the first time in my life that I ever really felt like I had a problem. I began to be a little concerned about my health and decided to confide in my companion, and eventually the President of my mission.
It all happened so fast that I felt like I didn't even blink. I received an honorable medical release and was sent home to hopefully start the recovery process. The worst part was that, coming home, my biggest concern was that no one would think I had an eating disorder because I wasn't skinny enough.
So this is where I'm at. I have an eating disorder. This was an EXTREMELY brief account, but
it's been nine years, and I am just now coming to terms with it. The road to recovery is still a work in progress and every day is a struggle, but I know that I can do this. As weird as it is, I am thankful for this struggle, because I've learned a lot about myself. I know that sometimes I will probably slip and fall, or my knees will give out from pressure on my back from the thoughts in my head but everyday I will fight to love myself and to be happy with who I am, because somewhere deep inside I know I deserve it.