My Eating Disorder Was Rebellious, My Recovery Is a Rebellion
I struggled with anorexia for over two decades and bulimia for the tail-end 10 years.
It’s ironic to me, because us “anorexics” are stereotypically (we vary, like everyone else) the straight A students, that always overachieved and never misbehaved. Sneaking out of the house? Not us, hand over mouth in surprised expression of disbelief. Never! We were always perceived as what is the conventional image of The Amish level of good. But even the Amish rebel too — ever hear of Rumspringa? They don’t call it the “running around” for no reason.
In reality we were lying to the world all along, creating a farce in a soapy, “squeaky clean,” bubble of perfection to mask our deadly illness. Take little old me for example. I never drank/did drugs in high school, never really dated, was always on the honor roll, yet during school free periods I was driving to drug stores out of area to purchase boxes of laxatives to sneak into my parents’ house for binges. Because yes, while I seemed like I had my shit together from an outside perspective, at the end of the day I was so intent on my mission to skin and bones (really emotional numbness), that I would do and say anything to get people to look the other way and continue my ways of coping.
I mean I gave my parents no reason not to trust me. I wasn’t partying and binging on alcohol all hours of the night. They even encouraged me to go out with friends and let myself relax. “Stop being so hard on yourself. Life is too short.” I can still hear my mom whispering into my ear, as I slaved over my schoolwork on a typical Saturday night.
While some of my peers were partying Lil Wayne style, I was studying while secretly binging on food and laxatives or simply not eating to achieve the same high. I wasn’t sneaking out and getting a visible tattoo, yet I was secretly embroidering marks of self-harm into my skin in the privacy of my room. Clearly, I was daring in another way –my rebellion was just my secret.
We are all human. Human beings are flawed. There are usually cracks in the interior even if the exterior is pristine. We all have struggles and pain, heartache of some kind. Everyone has something that keeps him or her lying awake at night, thinking about life. We all need some way to numb-out and sometimes you pick up unhealthy ways, before you find the good ways (like exercise in moderation, reading a book, watching television or writing). And if you are like me, sometimes those unhealthy ways turn into a deadly mental illness.
So yes, I was a rebel without a cause, doing things my parents wouldn’t approve of, lying through gritted teeth and fake smiles. The beauty of recovery is now I am a rebel with a cause — the most important cause I ever participated in. I am a warrior of life, bravely showing up to the battlegrounds everyday and healthily participating. I am an eating disorder advocate, looking to help others who are stuck where I once was. I can be anything I want to be because nothing is holding me back.
It is so much easier to numb out than feel. So I encourage all you warriors out there to let yourselves feel and experience. There is nothing more amazing, sad, scary and incredible in this world than feeling — but I am telling you it is worth it. We are all rebels in some way, but it is a much better way to live as a rebel with a cause. We can get so much more joy, love, experiences and satisfaction, (I could go on and on…) and less self-destruction. So find your cause rebel, and fight on…
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Thinkstock photo via Natalia-flurno