When did your Eating Disorder start? Share it in the Comments Below!
By: Olivia Dolley
Growing up in life I knew with my life I would always want to do something to benefit others whether it was to cure some sort of cancer or another medically related disease or invent something as cool and exquisite as time travel.
Of course, me being the curious kindergartener I was, I wanted to do just about everything and anything cool and exciting. But I have realized that as a person whose life is full of endless possibilities, I guess I will never really know what is in store for in the future of life.
Like I said, I have always enjoyed helping people. But I have experienced some things that yes, I am still going through, but I hope in theory my stories and thoughts will have helped someone. Whether it’s so they can relate to my story and process or recovery, coping mechanisms, or anything really. Or if they can just listen, get just, and hopefully practice prevention ways. So here it is, in writing. Mainly because when I start talking about this I immediately get emotional and I like to pretend I don’t cry and get emotional. I don’t like people to see when I struggle, but I am human and like anyone, I have emotions. So anyway, here it is.
Growing up, I have always wanted to be the best Olivia I could be. Not just doing my best in life, I wanted to be perfect. In school, sports, and on the outside; especially, my physical appearance. Everyone struggles in some sort of way with acceptance of their body. Sometimes, it just doesn’t affect others as strongly as others. All throughout my middle school years, I obsessed with my body and feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. My body type is bigger or stronger than most of my friends. I have broad shoulders and more muscular legs. Plus, I was short so not everything distributed out proportionally. I had this ideal body I wanted to be and to this day I still remember it but I did everything I could to be that. It all started the summer before 8th grade. I had tried Every fad diet out there. The military diet, which was a strict diet for a consecutive 3 days. The diet guaranteed weight loss; you could up to 10 lbs in those 3 day time spam which I knew was unhealthy, but did I care? I thought of these as quick fixes, and even though I knew that almost none of these would work, I didn’t care. I was obsessed with finding a cure. I would spend hours on Youtube finding peoples “stories” and how their success could help mine to soon be true.
After a while, I did other fads too, anything that would result in rapid fat weight loss. Of course, 9/10 times they would work, but I went through, on the whole, restrict and binge cycle for a good amount of time until 8th grade came along. All I ever thought about was food, what I was going to eat next, what it was going to be, how much quantity of which the food was. Also, how I would make up excuses as to why I can’t eat when I was around people. Food was all I ever thought about. I thought of it as my enemy and something that could be abused.
When I was younger, I always told myself that nothing could ever influence me and make decisions for me. That I was my own person and that I was headstrong and in control. I never really thought about it until now, but this thing controlled my life. Every damn aspect and little action I would make. Instead of someone controlling me, it was something. My days usually consisted of not eating breakfast, or lunch, after school working out running after school rapidly, and then going home and eating literally everything I possibly could.
Every time I try and explain this in words, I physically cannot bring myself to put this into words. This whole experience has taken a total deter on how I view things.
So I’m not really sure how I would explain my binging restricting cycle. But all I do know is I didn’t think about anything but that, stuffing my face with as much as possible until it was gone, then feeling completely disgusted afterward. Having to hide myself from family so they wouldn’t notice I wasn’t eating. From depriving myself of the 13-year old I was too feel so gross and lethargic to the point whereas I couldn’t even move some of the times. I remember the intrusive thoughts I would get all throughout this whole cycle. I kept telling myself everything was okay and “I have this all under control.” Knowing that this whole cycle wouldn’t stop unless I did something was something I did not want to conclude.
So as time went on, and my vicious cycle got worse and worse, I kept seeing myself as a worsened version of myself in the mirror. It was almost considered as body dysmorphia, but to this day, I’m not really sure what I would even call it. Seeing every little imperfection and just bringing myself down. I was addicted to the feeling of making myself feel insignificant to my own good. This feeling was like a drug or chemical being released into my brain. The more I told myself these things, the better I would feel and the worse my self-esteem came to be. So to get rid of the food, I would go on runs and do physical activity to the point and intensity where I would purge from the intensity or vigorous movement. To this day, I still can’t comprehend why I would do this.It’s like something in my mind wasn’t working right. I knew mile after mile, right after a meal I was going to feel horrendously uncomfortable. I knew that none of this was worth it but I couldn’t stop myself. If I didn’t work out, I’d usually just get rid of it the old-fashioned way.
At one point I remember throwing up so hard that blood came out. That’s when I knew this had to stop. I didn’t want to but I knew I had to. Also, I’m not really sure if my parents ever knew or had a sense as to what was going on. I know my friends knew because of how I looked in middle school from the beginning to the end and also how I would never eat at lunch. They even found the Myfitnesspal app on my phone so that when I would eat, I would track everything. Every little crumb and macromolecule. That app was like my holy grail, and like my life depended on it. So as time went on and as I got older, people started noticing. I wouldn’t eat in front of people. I felt like everyone was judging me or would be if I did. But if I didn’t eat, people would ask why or why. And my simple answer every single time was
“I’m not hungry”.
When inside, as everyone was eating pizza, it slowly ate away at me. The smell of food soon made me want to throw up. If I did give in, I would punish myself to an extent that I myself cannot physically get myself to describe. I wouldn’t eat for days, I would insult myself in ways I can’t explain. Anything to make me feel like complete and total shit. I tried to stop the thoughts (not very well, but I did eventually try and stop them) It just had gotten to the point that I couldn’t stop. I was addicted to it. To this point it wasn’t even about how I looked anymore, it was just about eating and then disposing of the food I had just eaten.
As this whole process went on as my 12/14-year-old self, I never knew how serious this was.
Nobody knew about this, not even my best friend who I’ve known literally all of my life. I was lying to everyone I loved, thinking I was protecting them so they wouldn’t worry about me.
My responses were always the same ones every time was simply,
That’s one of the biggest lies anyone tells. Not even with situations like this but in everything. I honestly didn’t want help for the longest time. I was addicted to this vicious cycle and I couldn’t come to a conclusion was a serious, nearly death issue. Throwing up as much as I could behind my parents back to the point of blood. It’s not fun. It’s something I hope you nobody ever has to go through.
This lasted a good majority of my 8th-grade year.
Eventually, I decided to reach out to someone. Well actually, a large group of people. I had found this group on Facebook through this Youtube channel I had watched. Her experience was extremely similar to mine. Not feeling good enough for anyone: friends, family, a guy, just about everyone. Unworthy, depressed, useless, f a t (god, I hate that word so much).
So one of these people suggested veganism. You could eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables. As much food as you wanted. I thought about it, and I decided to try it. Previous to this, I was already vegetarian (still am). So anyway, I gave this a shot. This lasted for around a good solid month. Of course, I didn’t just bounce back to my happy, self-loving self, but I definitely was better than I was before. It was hard for me to eat at lunch in front of people because of the judgment I was afraid to receive. Still hesitant about the whole thing, and my parents even noticed I was eating more. Life was good.
A few weeks later, I had relapsed. I can’t really remember what had triggered it but it came back. Not nearly as bad as before at the start, but most definitely wasn’t easy to get with. I was even more obsessed with calorie counting. To this day, looking at a plate of food, I could tell you the most exact and precise macromolecules and caloric density of each piece of food on the plate I had developed an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy foods and working out. Very, very low amounts of healthy food amounts and an overextension of high-intensity exercise. I, fortunately, had caught this early on. I had talked to this person through the Facebook group I was in. They told me they were not a medical specialist by any means, but they came to a conclusion that this was most likely orthorexia nervosa.
The definition of Orthorexia, from the dictionary, is an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy.
A medical condition in which the sufferer systematically avoids specific foods in the belief that they are harmful.
I had never heard of this before. I did research on a lot of this because it would help me with getting back to my normality (or at least what should be my normal lifestyle) I mean, I’m not really sure what to consider my previous disorder. I don’t think it had a particular title seeing as it was a mix of everything. Disordered images of my body, restricting, binging and purging, it was a vicious cycle I finally broke. Of course, I can’t say the detrimental thoughts aren’t there to these days and I most definitely cannot say I have relapsed or are still not struggling.
But, I am finally stepping up to this and getting help. Accepting the fact that it is an option and attempting to go through with the process. Getting better with recovery is a process that most definitely isn’t easy. When I wanted to reach out for help I didn’t know how because sometimes I would look like an “idealistic” eating a disordered person and sometimes I wouldn\’t. My weight and body size would change in a week. Of course, not by a lot but enough to where it was most definitely not healthy. This is because of societal standards which is what had triggered this in the first place. Just knowing that I had to be one specific body size to “fit in” and look like everyone else did. It was hard to accept, and I know that now but it doesn’t mean I still have struggled with accepting it. As a cross country runner, I thought to be fast I had to look like the rest of them when in reality, it’s how hard you work and how much effort you put into practices. I know this now, but it still is something that is hard for me to accept. I am a decent runner because I am hard-working, determined, but I remember I kept telling myself,
“I can run when I lose weight” or, “I’ll be fast when I am skinny”
All I am saying is, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You should never have to satisfy other people or justify yourself to make other people accept you. Being told your self-worth isn’t bounteous. Obsessing over perfectionism, when in reality, perfectionism is inevitable. Remember your self-worth is more than enough and you have so much to offer the world no matter how big or small you are. Eat well and nourish yourself, treat yourself once in a while, and just live your own life with your own control on how you eat and do things.
Stop obsessing over calories and learn to love the body you were born with. It’s easier said than done, but if you learn to love yourself one day at a time, you’ll thank yourself later. Life is to short to count your fruit loops, you are good enough.