Hi, my name is Greta and I had an eating disorder for a half of my life. It all had started with a diet when I was 18 and now I’m 35!
Eating disorders ruled my life for almost two decades. I was obsessed with, and tried, every possible diet, weight loss plan, detox, cleanse and restrictive eating plan. All that I got was an even greater obsession with food and weight.
My eating disorder took various shapes and forms – starting off with anorexia and then progressing to binge eating, compulsive overeating, excessive exercise, laxative abuse, bulimia and binge eating. I have been through it all! I was given a taste of all the different flavors of an eating disorder.
I sought help through a number of different paths and sources. I tried eating disorder counselors, support groups, spiritual healing and I was even hospitalized twice in order to stop the extreme acting out.
What I didn’t realize was that it was my dieting and restrictive eating that was fuelling the eating disorder and until I stopped that, nothing would change. Nothing changes if nothing changes.
I would try all the different treatment programs but my behavior and attitude remained the same – I would diet, restrict and eventually binge. I just could not connect the dieting to the eating disorder. I thought you HAD to be on a diet and anything else was absurd and ineffective.
I never truly believed that I would find a lasting eating disorder recovery solution. I thought that I would always in some way or another live with the mental obsession, the preoccupation with food and weight, and at best have periods of “abstinence” from the extreme manifestation of the eating disorder.
Things got so bad at some point that I guess I reached that real rock bottom place. You now the place – where you cannot live another day the way that you have been living. Things had to change because I had no life, no interest and no spirit left.
Since my early memories I was expected to be perfect. I was very cute, intelligent and talented. I was praised by my parents, teachers, tutors and even strangers who came my way. But I worked my butt off for that perfection – studying, practicing and exhausting myself in order to keep up with everyone’s expectations.
I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. Therefore, I just knew what to do and how to behave to be likable. I guess I need a good therapist to dig deeper in that situation, because that was the time I began lying. I didn’t have any bad intentions doing that – I just lied to present myself better than I was.
Moving foreword in my teenage years I found out that perfection meant being attractive and being thin.
I had never heard of a word diet in my life so I started to do various exercises and massages to make my growing thighs look smaller.
However at my senior year at school we, girls, had noticed that one of our teachers has noticeably slimed down. We complimented her and she told us about her diet – calorie counting and gave us calorie count tables to copy.
There it all began. According to that diet we only supposed to eat 1000 calories per day. We tried and failed and tried again. I do not know why I was doing it. I wasn’t overweight at all. I just did what all my fiends were doing. Except I still reached for perfection. I started reading fashion magazines and tried ever more restricted diets as drinking only tea for three days or eating a couple of yogurts. I managed to stay under 400-500 calories a day and my weight decreased. I was worshiped again.
I want to note here what this teacher’s diet did to my friends. There were 5 of us – best buddies, girlfriends who hung out together all our time at school, after school and beyond. 3 of us developed and eating disorders – anorexia and bulimia. One of my friends recovered from it at the age of 24 because she wanted to have children. The other one still suffers from bulimia (she couldn’t finish college, start a family or stay at any job because of this disease – lately she moved and stopped all contacts with us so I still wander what had happed to her and pray for her every day)
Well, as a result, my body couldn’t keep up with the diet. So from time to time I stated binging. It led to self pity, anger and more restriction. At that time one of my friends (who already started suffering from bulimia) introduced me to laxatives – here the circle started: restricting, binging, laxative abuse, restricting and so on. I had been staying under 500 calories for a week, then binging and using laxatives on weekends. I do not remember when I heard first about bulimia and purging. I sure tried it several times but I could not bring up any food so I stayed at my restricting/binging/laxative abuse routine. I have finished two universities, lived abroad, worked some fantastic jobs while living with my disorder. I had some good weeks or months at this period – it was when I managed not to restrict so badly, but I have always returned to my cycle.
Sure I lost friends, all my relationships with men failed and I had no idea how to enjoy life any more. It had continued for about 14 years.
Years after, my weight, kept creeping up and I became even more obsessed with it. I tried every diet that was on the net with no luck and even more despair. I had found bulimic sites and read their tips for purging food , thinking why not – I just need to lose a couple of pounds. I remember my first and the most painful purge. I promised that I would never do it again – I was so swollen, my throat and fingers hurt and I knew that I did not manage to bring all food up. The second time it had happened out of hopelessness – also painful as hell. Therefore I dig deeper into pro mia sites for more information and tips. This first bulimic year was experimentation. I purged once or twice a week. Then went months without even restricting. It was because my current boyfriend came into the picture at this time, so I did everything to keep this relationship, which meant I ate similar to a normal person. Soon we moved together and shortly I restarted my old habits, only this time I had already knew how to puke. Somehow in two years it evolved into uncontrollable disaster. I ate tons of food and purged up until 5 times per day. I need not any fingers any more – I learned how to do it and how to purge everything. I lost a lot of weight. I lied to my boyfriend about some metabolic disease and that I pooped a lot (this was when I was purging). I became underweight. People started commenting on how bad I had looked now, but I couldn’t stop. Well maybe for a day or two, but as I saw the scale move up even 100grams, I returned to binging and purging. My hair started falling out, I started experiencing some severe pain in my chest area. It was so scary because I knew that at any time I could die. My boyfriend offered to go to some expensive specialist for the check up – he saw how week and miserable I became, but I couldn’t tell him what was it. I was so ashamed.
So I started to look for the treatment. I had read four books on bulimia and began following the advice provided there.
Structured eating, distraction tools and lots of love for myself had helped me a lot. I started to hear myself, my happy and sad thoughts, my cravings for love, attention and care. I started eating very healthy non processed foods and eliminated all sugar and gluten products from my diet because I felt better and better eating this way. Then I started exercising. Nothing major, because I was still weak: some Pilates, some aerobic classes and finally weight lifting – oh, I loved it from the start.
Today I am in recovery. I still have issues with the looks and the food, but one day, I will be me again – Not being perfect.
The process takes time, patience with oneself and practice. I’m still on my journey. I’m still learning every day and I make mistakes so don’t judge me strictly. I didn’t become disordered eater overnight, so the recovery takes time. However, the more I let go of diet rules, plans and restriction, the more I focus on ACTING like an intuitive eater, the faster I notice results.
The biggest challenges that I have faced up to this time are initially not knowing what to eat and a major fear of weight gain. But slowly I add food that I like; I taste things out and observe the results. Even thought I am terrified at times that I would not be able to stop eating, the I’m happy with the results that the more I focus on being a normal eater, letting go of the scales, rules, restriction, the more freedom I experience and the lesser the obsession is.
I’m healing and I will be NORMAL, taking just one day at a time.