You never realize how far you’ve let yourself go until you step back and reevaluate your life. You let a single thought enter your brain. Before you know it, it starts to dictate your life. You listen to this thought before you listen to the people you trust.
Throughout high school, I gained weight. I gained forty pounds by my junior year. I hated how I looked. My friends wore bikinis and short shorts while I wore jeans and T-shirts to cover my stretch marks and stomach.
When I looked in the mirror, I saw an awkward sixteen year old with a baby face and rolls to match.
This is about the time Pinterest made its debut. I became obsessed with exercising. I pinned hundreds of workouts, and I only ate when my mom got suspicious.
“No one will like you if you are fat.”
I saw it written on every plate of food. I chanted it in my head as I ran, ignoring the black specks forming in my vision. I etched it into my brain.
When I looked into the mirror, I didn’t feel skinny enough. I still saw an awkward sixteen year old. I lost pound after pound but nothing changed. The vision I had for myself was unattainable.
More often than not, I couldn’t go to sleep because of the ache in my stomach. The kitchen was a hundred steps away but every time I walked by a mirror, my appetite went away.
My immune system was in shock. One day when I was home sick, I passed out and hit my head against a wall. I woke up a few minutes later and blamed it on my sickness. I was so oblivious to the fact that I was doing this to myself. I blocked out the thought that maybe this wasn’t healthy.
At a crippling weight of one hundred and ten pounds, I finally felt beautiful. I wore clothes that showed more skin because I thought I deserved it. I felt like every guy looked at me when I walked into the room.
I never thought I’d look at a photo of myself and realize that my skin was hanging from my bones. I looked like a skeleton. I had gone down four sizes in less than six months.
I will never forget the moment I realized what I had done. The revelation was a hundred times worse than what I had been feeling all those months.
I lost all of my fat, but kept all of the skin. Even though I had worked out, I had no nutrients to help build muscle. I still have physical reminders of it today.
I’d like to say that I don’t suffer from these demeaning thoughts anymore, but the temptation is always there. It comes from little things, like a friend telling me he has never considered me as skinny or walking past a human Barbie on campus.
The important thing I’ve come to realize is that I’m not alone in this. There are so many people in my life who care and will make me eat, even when I don’t want to. They think I’m beautiful and worthy of a healthy, happy life. And I am.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, I urge you to seek help. Call the National Eating Disorder Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or talk to a loved one. You are not alone.