Fat. That is my word. That’s the word I wake up next to every single morning and go to sleep with every single night. Still. I’m twenty years old and I don’t remember a single day when I haven’t been wholly and irrevocably obsessed with food. If I’m giving a presentation in class, I’m thinking about food; if I’m calling my credit card company to replace my card, I’m thinking about food; if I’m in a job interview, I’m thinking about food; if I’m eating, I’m thinking about food. Most of my day consists of obsessing over eating food, not eating food, when to eat it, how much to eat, where to buy it from, what I already ate today, what I will eat today, what I will eat a month from now. You get the idea.
This diseased mindset has been present from the days of first grade when I became “the fat kid.” Sure my parents worried about, and agonized over how to help me get healthy without ruining my self esteem. Meanwhile, I was growing a more metaphorical thick skin to learn to deal with the disappointments of never getting to share clothes with my friends, never being able to finish running a mile in gym, and never getting to ride in my neighbor’s Barbie jeep because I was over the weight limit.
By high school I was done. That was the word I would use to describe my compulsive overeating. Done. I longed to be like my size zero friends and I was going to do it through sheer will. I started counting calories and eating lunches that consisted solely of fruit. I grew to like being hungry, because that was what success felt like.
I remember the day that I finally recognized my reflection in the mirror. I was thin, I could see my clavicle like never before. My spine was visible if I hunched my shoulders a bit. This was it. In my sixteenth year, I had arrived. I could not wait to relish turning down those who had previously spurned me. I was feeling confident–the kind of confidence that only comes when you feel that others envy you–and hungry. Hungry a lot. My mood depended solely on what the scale told me I could feel.
My mother returned to the drawing board for worries, concerned that I was “going too far in the other direction.” I pretended to care about my health. I was sixteen and the closest to invincible that a girl like me will ever feel– I was thin, why should I care about my hair being a bit thinner? No, I didn’t think my mom should worry about the “red flags” that the nutritionist said I exhibited. I had this under control.
That invincibility was shattered when my elder cousin, Kelly died suddenly and unexpectedly in her sleep the summer before my junior year of high school. Suddenly the risks of skipping meals and shedding weight at any costs were very real. My mother naturally went into protective overdrive, forcing me to go to doctors and therapists to ensure my safety– the closest she could come to bubble wrapping me and force feeding me the pizzas I now eschewed.
I don’t know that I ever thanked her properly for that– for pulling me back in when I needed it. Nor can I thank Kelly now, which often makes me feel guiltily– why did I need that big of a sign to know that I wasn’t being healthy?
Either way, it’s been about four years now and I’m getting better and I’m also not getting any better. By that I mean that I still think about food all day, every day and wish, for once I could use my mental capacity for something other than planning out the next day’s meals. I still find that my personal inclination is to believe that my value as a human is tied to the size of jeans I fit into. The difference now is that I know that this is incorrect logically, even if not always emotionally. I know I’m going to struggle with this day in and day out for the rest of my life and somedays I just want to be “done.” But you don’t get to quit having disordered eating. You aren’t cured, you’re helped.
So, in starting this blog I hope to help. Let me give a disclaimer: I’m going to try my best to be excruciatingly honest on here. I am NOT giving advice. I’m sharing my experiences. I’m going to let you know that when I mess up or when I think unhealthy things or when I want to give up on this because that’s my reality.
Thank you for reading,