By Guest Blogger Anna Keller
It’s so interesting to take note of how easy it is for me to talk about my eating disorder now, because for years – more than a decade – I lived in fear of anyone finding out about it. I would barely let myself really think about it, much less want to let anyone else in on my shameful addiction. It was strange, really, how top of mind it was at all times and yet also something I tried to keep out of my critical brain as much as I could. If I didn’t think about it too hard – and dig into why I might be victim to this behavior – I didn’t feel quite as sick.
But I WAS sick.
I suffered from bulimia from the time I was a junior in high school until I was in my early 30s, and it absolutely consumed my life.
I remember the first time I made myself throw up. It was close to prom and of course I wanted to look great in my dress. I’d eaten a meal that made me feel either uncomfortable or maybe just guilty (worried I’d eaten too much or eaten “unhealthy” things), and so without giving it much thought at all I headed to the bathroom and purged my meal. I immediately felt lighter and better, and so happy. This was EASY, and it was going to allow me to eat whatever I wanted while not worrying about weight. Why didn’t more people do this?
Of course, that was just the start of what would soon become a daily habit – something so much a part of my life that going a day without throwing up felt incredibly uncomfortable. Thankfully, YEARS later (and after meeting with two therapists already without success because I just wasn’t fully ready), I finally broke free of the addiction that had gained complete control of me. That journey toward recovery wasn’t an easy one, but I’m so grateful I did it.
A few years later, I shared this blog about my eating disorder. which felt like another piece of the recovery process. I’m a big believer in our experiences having the power to help one another, and I also think there’s nothing like hearing someone say, “Me, too!” when you’re going through something tough. I felt compelled to share my story in the hopes it could help normalize what’s usually such a secret and shameful thing, and to remind others they weren’t alone in their eating disorder struggle.
Eating disorders tend to happen in high-achieving women – the kind of women who often appear to have it all together and who make life look effortless. In fact, they are struggling desperately to maintain that image, because not to do so would feel like failure and far too much vulnerability.
So if you’re reading this and you’re struggling with an eating disorder, here are a few things I want you to hear:
- You’re not a failure for having “given in” to an eating disorder.
- You aren’t at all alone in this struggle. There are probably people you know well who have the same or similar issues and are wary to share them.
- It might feel right now like talking about your eating disorder with anyone would be the very last thing you’d ever want to do. (I felt the same way!) Just know that you might reach a point where talking about it feels like the right thing. It will be such a brave thing, and has the potential to help yourself and others in a big way.
- You might uncover some painful things as you recover from your eating disorder. Remind yourself that this is GOOD – uncomfortable can be so healing and rewarding – and that you’ll come out stronger and healthier on the other side (mentally and physically).
- Yes – you CAN get better. (And it’s so worth it.) I felt so afraid going into recovery. What would happen to my body? Would I really come to a point where I wouldn’t obsess over food? Turns out my body was more resilient than I gave it credit for, and I actually did reach the point where I didn’t think about food 24/7. Remembering how that felt, I’m so grateful to have that space back in my brain and in my life.
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