I can’t remember exactly when my eating disorder first emerged, but it happened some time during the fall of 2011. My eating disorder, which I only recently had diagnosed as atypical anorexia nervosa (See description here), was characterized by calorie restriction and purging through the form of exercise. I would meticulously count every single calorie that went into my body, and my goal was to never exceed consuming between 800-1,000 calories per day. And on top of that, I would frequently exercise on our treadmill so that I could track the amount of calories that I burned, and once I burned more calories than I had consumed for the day, I felt accomplished and would stop. I continued this routine throughout the greater part of my junior year in high school.
During this period, I was obsessed with my weight and never felt satisfied by the number I saw beaming from the scale. My weight loss was not severe, but gradually the change in my size was surely noticeable. Some friends and family members had expressed their concern over my eating disorder habits, but I didn’t listen to them. I was so engrossed in my eating disorder that I had convinced myself that my behavior was healthy, and that everyone else around me should be more like me. In my mind, everyone else was far too gluttonous and would benefit from more self-control. But I was blind to the harm I was inflicting upon my body and soul every day. It was part of my every day routine, so I never stopped to really question it.
One of the worst problems with eating disorders, whether or not you are aware of them, is that you never feel satisfied about the way that you look and feel in your own body. No matter how much weight I lost, no matter how much my bones protruded from my waning body, no matter what size pants I could fit into, I wasn’t happy with my self-image. I was infatuated with the lie that if I finally got my weight down to 110 pounds, I would be satisfied and no longer feel the desire to be thinner. I thought I was so logical about my weight aspirations that I couldn’t possibly have a problem, but eating disorders aren’t logical, they distort your self-perception.
When people around me told me that I was too thin, I thought they were preposterous. What they viewed as skinny, I viewed as skinny-fat. This is a term popularized by the queer male community to refer to someone who appears to be thin at first glance, but who under closer inspection carries an average (seemingly absurd) amount of fat on their body that is considered to be shameful and unappealing (another important note is, though I presently identify as transgender non-binary & bisexual, at the time of my eating disorder I was identifying as a cisgender, gay man). It’s totally ridiculous, I know, but fatphobia is a serious issue within the queer community, especially perpetuated by queer men, and it only exacerbated my already negative body image and made me more self-conscious.
“I’ve been practicing self-care by actively changing my thought processes and directing my own self-image.” Tweet This Quote!
My eating disorder continued until the end of my junior year of high school, and then it just fizzled out. Maybe it dissipated due to a reduction in stress levels over the summer, or the fact that I spent more time with friends who were pretty body positive and didn’t stress too much about what they were eating or what they looked like. That summer, I was pretty carefree and shifted my focus onto having fun and letting loose a bit more. But, the psychological scars from my eating disorder still haunt me to this day, in the form of my improved, yet still sensitive body image, and eating disordered thoughts that intermittently cross my mind. But now, they have less power over me than they did during my adolescence, and I’m great at avoiding my eating disorder triggers, I do this by not looking at the caloric content of the food I eat or weighing myself. And, I’ve been practicing self-care by actively changing my thought processes and directing body positivity toward my own self-image, which has worked wonders for me, though my body image is far from perfect. And I’m not afraid to call people out when I hear someone body shaming, explaining to them why their judgmental behavior is so damaging and must be changed to achieve a more body positive and healthy community. My healing process continues to inspire me to move forward, but as with recovery from any major issue, some days are far better than others. But, I pull myself up by my bootstraps, reminding myself of how proud I should be of the great progress I’ve already made, and trot along, recovering one step at a time.
Andy is a third year undergraduate student at St. Cloud state, studying Women’s Studies and Human Relations. Andy is a transgender non-binary femme person from a working class background with a passion for social justice, fashion, and their dearest cat.
If you know or suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing an eating disorder, seek help. Counseling and Psychological Services (http://www.stcloudstate.edu/counseling) and Health Services(http://www.stcloudstate.edu/healthservices) are both confidential support services free to St. Cloud State University Students.
For more information, please visit the following websites:
Photo Courtesy of: http://thestir.cafemom.com/