How It Felt to Be Known as the 'Anorexic Girl'
Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.
I used to overanalyze everything I did and said. I desperately wanted to be liked and accepted — who doesn’t? I was my biggest critic — I wasted my time trying on different labels, hoping one would stick. Was I the “nice” girl? The “funny” girl? I am going to go to university — then I can be the “smart” girl. The “pretty” girl? No, I’m definitely not the pretty girl. I never felt good enough, smart enough or pretty enough. I was chasing unrealistic standards that I took the liberty in setting for myself. I was not enough and I would never be enough. It was gradual, and it didn’t happen overnight, but I finally got a label — the “anorexic girl.”
I was the girl who would rather study caloric information than study for an exam. I was the girl who ate something, then cried about it afterwards. I was the girl who passed out when she stood up too fast. I was the girl who weighed her food, and then herself afterwards. I was the girl who went to the gym, stepped on a treadmill but then never actually ran because her body was too weak. I was the girl who felt victorious when she skipped a meal. I was the girl whose stomach was rumbling because she had been fasting. I was that girl — because I was the “anorexic girl who would do anything to be thin.”
I was that girl, but I was so many other things — I was lonely. I didn’t know how to spend time with myself, so I occupied it with obsessing over food. I didn’t think I was capable of loving, or being loved, so I numbed the loneliness with starvation. I was desperate. I was desperate for distraction, so I turned to counting calories and over-exercising. I was terrified. I knew I needed help, but I didn’t know if and how I should ask for it. I isolated myself, and for awhile, it was just me and my anorexia. It was a dark place to be — pitch black, not a star in the sky. I could convince myself I would never see a better day, that it would only get worse from here. It was so dark that I felt physically uncomfortable in my own skin. I looked in the mirror and I saw a monster, cringing with disgust. I was in too deep, the damage was done – and now, I was a burden to those around me. It was so dark that I was convinced myself the world would be a better and brighter place without me in it.
Despite the love and support that surrounded me, this darkness was my reality for a long time. I was exhausted — battling with your own mind is a lot of work. I don’t have a reason for how or why I got to that dark place. I wish I knew, but I don’t. I had a wonderful childhood, a supportive family and a great group of friends — so why? That’s the first misconception, and it is why it is so difficult to ask for help. I am an advocate for mental health, only because there is one person who may read my story and feel a little less alone. There is one person who might read it and ask for help, who will break the silence and talk to someone about it. It is that person, even if it is just that one person, that gives me purpose. You don’t need a reason to validate how you are feeling – it is OK to not be OK. There will always be someone who is doing better than you, and worse than you — everything is relative. You are enough, and you deserve to feel like you are enough. We need to talk about it, enough is enough. So, let’s talk.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.
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Getty Images photo via Grandfailure