Mental Health

Ana and Mia

This is probably the hardest post to write. Not only because it’s super personal and kinda heavy, but also because it’s much easier to write about stuff that’s in the past and that doesn’t still affect me. And yet, I wanted to write about this for such a long time, now. Partly because I think that it’ll create a new incentive for me to get better, partly because I think there’s still a stigma around eating disorders and mental health which prevents people to talk about it. In case you didn’t guess it from the title, this post is about my struggle with anorexia and bulimia.

I don’t really know where to begin and this will probably be the most unstructured post you’ve ever seen. I also don’t have any special advice, since I’m still trying to figure things out for myself. (And also, have you ever met someone who actually follows their own advice?)

So why am I posting this now?
To be completely honest, I’m writing this today because I just had an episode. And after 14 years of having eating disorders, it’s just annoying to be some tragic figure who doesn’t find a way out of her dilemma. It’s pathetic. And I feel weak and disgustung.

(If you’re reading this because you’re affected, please don’t take this or anything I’m going to say as a judgement on your condition. I’m just talking about my personal feelings, I’m not judging anyone.)

A psychologist once told me I should consider my eating disorder a disease. Well, I have difficulties doing that, since I feel like it’s in my control to give in or not and that I should be better than that. Except that I’m not. So I have no idea what to do with that information. Besides, it’s been such a long time that I’m dealing with that issue, it’s been more than 14 years.

I remember that when I was 7yo, I already wasn’t happy the way I looked. When I compared myself to my classmates, I found them much prettier. They weren’t as freakishly tall as I was. They also seemed to be more athletic and have nicer features in general. (Btw, this all was way before social media.) I never was the athletic type and since I scrutinized my body in the mirror every night, I noticed that I had ceelulite at a very early age. Sounds unreal, right? However, the dimples I discovered in my butt cheeks back then are still there. After that, my New Year’s Resolution would be to loose weight. However, I never succeeded. I mean, I was a kid and didn’t know shit about nutrition or dieting. And even though I’ve always been physically active, I never got ripped. Instead, I got some very unpleasant memories from when I tried out athletic sports and failed tremendously.

But then, right before my 15th birthday, my family and I made a trip to Italy. I remember flipping through a magazine and reading about this new trend called ‘Homeless Chic’. And apparently Mary-Kate Olsen incorporated it the best way possible. On the drive to Italy, I was reading a fashion magazine and still remember the exact picture, it was Gemma Ward wearing a ripped pullover from Dior. Next to her, Mariacarla Boscono in a similar outift. That day, I decided (!) that after the trip to Italy and all the pasta and pizza, I’d be anorexic.

Now people who say it was the magazine fault, stfu. In fact, do you remember that scene in SATC where Charlotte says that she can’t look at a magazine cover without thinking about her thighs? I absolutely hated it. Of course, the way how we see beauty is influenced by fashion mags and now, social media, but if a photo has that much power over you, there are probably some deeper issues.

In my case, it was the fact that I never felt beautiful or even appreciated. My father told me that he disliked the way I looked and also never took any interest in me, at least not as his child. He also let me know that he thought of me as lazy when I didn’t wanna do my homework or when I came home with a grade that was not brilliant. As for my mom, I could feel her disappointment when it became clear that I’d never be an athlete, nor good at science, especially maths. (She used to excel in both.) And her trying make me become better actually felt more like harrassment than encouragement. In addition to that, my family never had a normal way around eating and I can’t think of a single meal that wasn’t stressful in a way or another. According to what my mom has told me, I had a phase where I refused to eat when I was 3yo and since then, everyone in my family made sure that I ate enough, to the point that I was forced to empty my plate. And if all that wasn’t enough, let’s throw in the snide remarks my parents would make about my friend’s looks, some bullying at school, and a predisposition for depression that seems to run in my family.

I kept the promise I’d made to myself. When I turned 15, I weighed around 53kg (117lbs) for 1,79m (5’11”). A few months later, I went down to 46kg (101lbs), then 43kg (95lbs). One day, at a doctor’s appointment, my doctor pointed out that my state of health was pretty critical. That was when I was 16. The word she used was pathological. Yet, I never went to see a professional. I only had to go to a clinic where they did a couple of blood tests and then told me that my liver values were shit. But that was pretty much it. I never had anyone help me with a recovery plan or anything.

However, after this, I put on weight pretty quickly. I kinda happened automatically after I heard that my father was worried. This detail really annoys me up to this day. Daddy issues defining my life. Classic. And again, pathetic.

When I turned 17, my weight was up to 63kg (139lbs). Side note, the highest my weight had been before was 59kg (130lbs). And that was at a time when my mom let me know that my ass was getting huge and that a classmate said about me that he’d only consider dating me if I’d loose like 20kg (44lbs). In other words, I hated how I looked in that year. My face was puffy, everything felt huge, I didn’t feel like myself at all. So I slowly started loosing weight again, but still wasn’t happy with how I looked. Besides, shopping for jeans was a nightmare that time, my waist size being 30.

And then, I moved to Paris.

Didn’t know anyone there and later went through two rather difficult relationships. It didn’t take long until I was down to 46kg again. My mom came to see me and started to cry, which I found pretty annoying. I don’t know what made me gain weight after that, but slowly, I did and have maintained a weight of 57kg (125lbs), even though not always in a healthy way.

I still haven’t established a normal attitude towards eating yet, and probably never will, at least not completely. I’ve been in therapy a couple of times, not sure if it really helped. However, the number of bulimic episodes has decreased from 5 times a day to around twice a month. That’s at least something. My major motivation right now are my teeth. I know, it sounds sad, but I kinda stopped caring about other people’s feelings and opinions on what I should and shouldn’t do. (Probably because my parents did a great job at ignoring what was going on and especially after I had a friend tell me that the way I looked made her feel uncomfortable.) So yes, it’s about my teeth. Because even though they’re already paperthin, I would like to keep them until after I turn 50.

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