Updated: Aug 6, 2020
(Reposted from 2018) I’ve probably started this 10 times… It's surprisingly really uncomfortable to let people in one on some of the hardest, ugliest, parts of your life. I can count the number of people that know this about me on one hand, and still have a finger to spare. Vulnerability here is inevitable and you can walk away from this thinking whatever you want about me, but my whole purpose and intent of writing this is to help anyone who may be struggling in any aspect of life whether you relate or not. We can all relate on the underlying message and that is struggle. We all have them, so here is mine walls down, arms open. Let’s just cut to the chase. I feel like I’m in Eating Disorder Anonymous. I’m Bri and I struggled with Bulimia for close to 5 years. This obviously is a huge chunk of my life, so I plan on writing this in 3 parts. Let me tell you how this vicious cycle began and how it literally controlled my life.
9th grade: My little 9th grade mind didn’t even realize that people had eating disorders or that you could even “get” one, until that year. Now here’s a little back story, 9th grade was the year I became a woman, so to speak. That was when the insecurities flooded in, about everything: Body changes, boys acne, talking to boys, being good enough at dance/cheer, etc.! I was the definition of an insecure teenage girl. In this crisis of self love, I distinctly remember walking down the hallway of Timberline Middle School with one of my best friends at the time. We had just finished lunch when a boy passed me a note. I don’t remember what the note said, but it was along the lines of “So and so has a crush on you". Being the painfully awkward girl that I was I could hardly have a conversation with a boy, so to receive a note life this had me over the moon. After the redness in my entire face started to go down, my friend turned to me and asked, “Why do boys even like you? You’re not that pretty and you’re not even that skinny!”
Now, this wasn’t the pivotal moment where it all began. I know and I knew then that my worth was not dependent on the way that I looked. I had so many other influences in my life that led to where I went. There were pressures in dance, in cheer: not to be skinny, but to be more than I was. I never felt good enough. Throughout high school I actually had a lot of people who were incredibly hurtful to my face and even more so behind my back. This only deflated my self esteem even more. I had another friend come back from summer break probably 40 lbs. lighter because she got sick (Later to be confirmed as an Eating Disorder). Everyone talked about how great she looked and how beautiful she was. For some reason everyone wanted to be around her and be her friend. I connected my 9th grade hallway conversation with my friend, to the one we were having just then and decided that I couldn't change how awkward, uncool, and shy I was, but I could change the way that I looked. Well that was when me and bulimia shook hands, and began our 5 year relationship.
Before I go any further with my story, I need to clarify a few things. 1. This path didn't start because of a need to be pretty or even skinny, eating disorders don't work that way. It came from a need to be perfect and to bring back some control into my life, unfortunately that is how my brain decided to cope with social pressures. 2. I don’t want you to think that I blame anyone. At the end of the day, this is how my brain decided to cope. These people in my life may be to blame for the false stories that carried with me, but when it comes to my eating disorder, I can only blame my own mind. Now with that being said, with all the false rumors going around about me from “friends”, mean girls, and bullies, the last thing that I could handle was for someone to judge me based on an ugly truth. So, I kept it a secret. It is such a mind warping disorder and I would use anyone or anything to blame. I would tell myself things like, “I wouldn’t do this if my friend hadn’t made me feel bad,” or “I would stop if this boy liked me.” These were just excuses to make my problem, someone else’s fault.
I refused help for a really long time because I felt like I could control it. I would even stop completely for a year or two. I thought my “will power” was enough, until it would start again. I felt that I couldn't tell anyone for fear of being judge, including my own mom. She grew up in the age where any sort of disorder meant you were crazy and I believed she would never understand. To save myself from embarrassment, I became really good at hiding it.
After years of struggling on my own, I felt like I needed someone to help me and I confided in one of my closest friends. I braced myself for the judgement as I told her what was going on. To my surprise she was nothing but understanding and it helped me to realize it’s okay to ask for help. Not only that, but I was still worthy of love even if I had some pretty scary imperfections. She was the one who eventually told my mom and that’s when I decided help was my best and only option. Secrets keep you sick and I had been holding onto this secret for too long.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder or any sort of problem in your life, I may not understand, but I am always here to listen. I hope that me sharing this can help others to feel confident in asking for help, or at the very least you have someone to relate to on the basis of personal struggle. If you need a friend, I am more than happy to be that person for you. Please feel free to reach out in any way.
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