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My Struggle With Anorexia as Someone With a Disability

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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 741741.

“Girl, look at these thighs. You know I eat a lot.”

I used to eat well and now I am starving every day. But my muscles haven’t atrophied yet.

“I don’t feel well, I’ll eat in a little bit.”

My feet were so swollen today I couldn’t run enough, so I don’t deserve to eat.

“My colon is acting up today so I’ll just do liquids today because they’re light on my intestines.”

I don’t want to eat so I’ll use an excuse no one will question.

I stand looking in the mirror at the reflection staring at me, but I can’t see what anyone around me sees. I close my eyes and touch instead of look. I rub my hands across my body and there is a gushing sensation of joy from feeling how thin I am. My head rolls back and I feel my body floating as if it were hooked on ecstasy.

This is the part of anorexia many of us are silent about because we feel ashamed for craving that high that comes from feeling the thinness, the dull ache in our starving stomachs, or the thrill of not getting caught. Having CRPS II and a string of other health problems is a dream excuse for an anorexic, and the worst nightmare for the people around them. They watch the person fading into nothingness but keep excusing it with “They will get better. They’re just physically sick right now.”

This is why bodybuilding for me as a woman who is anorexic and disabled has become the most important aspect of my recovery. When I first started training, I was below a healthy weight and I couldn’t stop my eating disorder. I fell so quickly in love with the sensation of being strong from lifting. It made me feel in control, powerful, and untouchable.

My coach helped me slowly start to recover from my eating disorder. He constantly reminds me, “You have to eat to grow your muscles.” And so I ate without pleasure at first. I sat there staring at the food in front of me with dread… and I would force myself to eat it, and keep it down… but when I felt the energy that eating gave me at the gym, I went home and ate again.

Gradually, I stopped eating just for fuel and began eating for pleasure. I came to love my healthy meals because it was like all the cells in my body were having a party each time I ate. I no longer had to lie to people I loved, I didn’t have to avoid social events where there was food, and I could live a truly free life.

If you’re out there using your disability as a cover for the shame of not being able to control your eating disorder, know that you are not alone. In my experience, recovery is possible. You can’t do it alone, you won’t do it perfectly but in time, you can heal. Love yourself, find what you are passionate about, and the rest will come. What will you discover that will inspire you enough to live for it?

Getty image by ponchai soda.

Originally published: August 2, 2021
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