As we wrap up National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I think its only appropriate that I share my own story.
@ddlovato: Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses, not lifestyle choices. #NEDAwareness
For many people struggling with any form of mental illness.. it means struggling alone..in darkness, and in shame. Though the tides are turning and things are starting to change in terms of awareness and stigma… still the labels are out there. Even though the topics themselves are spoken about publicly… sharing your own story and your own pain…can still be one of the scariest things. At the beginning of this year I chose a word to describe how i was going to tackle this year…and for me that word was transparency. And so in an effort to be transparent I am going to share a bit of my story that not many people know.
Ever since I was a little girl…only 11 or 12 years old, I felt like i was always competing against the prettier, more popular girls. And i always felt i came up short. In 7th grade I was jealous that I WAS one of the skinnier girls in the class and hadn’t developed a “grown up” image. I WANTED to gain weight because I felt that would help me fit in. I was proud of how i could no longer fit into kids clothes and was wearing a women’s size 1 jeans. But then the weight gain wouldn’t stop. I always felt self conscious around my classmates. They were thin yet curvy, and I was just heavy. In 8th grade, I started starving myself. I wouldn’t eat breakfast or lunch, and try to shy away from as much dinner as possible. I was obsessed with my weight with sizes of clothes and my overall body image. This was all around the same time that my depression and self injury began as well.
When I got into high school, I hit a new stage of eating disorder. I was so depressed, I didn’t care how i looked anymore, and I turned to food for comfort when i felt alone or depressed or for any reason at all. I was binge eating. All i ever ate was junk food. candy and soda for breakfast, cookies and soda and snacks throughout the school day, and whatever cheap junk food i could find after school and at home. I would get home and sit on the couch and i could eat an entire half gallon of ice cream on my own. In my freshman year of high school alone i gained 40 lbs.
And i didn’t even notice… but my family did…and thats when the guilt kicked in. Everyone began making comments about how beautiful i used to be before i gained the weight, they pointed out how i let myself go. Everyone made jokes like it was alright to do. And I just stood quiet and took it, but inside i felt ashamed, i felt inadequate, i felt like I was worthless just because I wasn’t skinny anymore.
I became obsessed with my weight again… i wanted to diet, i was trying to control myself with all kinds of diet pills, and i was just starving myself. I was only 16 years old… and no one had any idea of how i was struggling. As much as I starved myself, I never lost the weight. I was taking more diet pills than anyone ever should…and nothing worked. By looking at me you wouldn’t think i had an eating disorder… but its not what you see that matters its the thoughts that go through your head. It is a mental illness.
I still feel like I will never be good enough unless I lose the weight. My mother has no idea of everything I have really gone through. She has no idea how her words hurt me, when she tells me I need to lose weight. She makes me feel self conscious every time she mentions some new weight loss regimen.
I hate going shopping because I feel like the numbers mock me. I feel like i wont ever really feel beautiful until I can wear a size 6 or smaller again. I judge how happy i was at a time in my life by how much i weighed and what i could fit into. I judge my self worth by how many numbers are on the scale.
I don’t control my eating, i don’t use diet pills anymore, i don’t starve. I know that means that I have come some way in my journey. But if i am being transparent and honest….
I am uncomfortable in my own skin.. and that’s the truth.