Throughout my recovery I have reflected a lot on the past to try and recall when my eating disorder began. When did I start to hear that voice in my head that told me I was not good enough or that I shouldn’t eat or that I need to exercise more? It’s hard to exactly pinpoint a specific moment in time. During my therapy sessions I have come to a resolution that it has been many experiences during my childhood that have built the foundation for ED.
When I was two years old my mother was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Since she was in the hospital most of the time and rarely home, I inserted myself into the caregiver roll. I helped around the house, took care of my brother and tried to please everyone. Yes even at the young age of two I performed duties not many two year olds would. My mom was sick for many years which was also the beginning of my parent’s marriage falling apart. When I was in middle school they finally got divorced after many years of agony and tension in the house. My dad and I did not have a strong relationship during this time and I saw my mom very upset and lonely. I became more of a friend to my mom than her daughter and continued to take care of her and my brother (still to this day my brother refers to me as his second mom). I helped out whenever I could and was way too involved in their divorce than I ever should have been. I was also afraid of letting others down or not being good enough. This is when I believe I first started being really harsh on myself and held myself to a higher standard. I would always get compliments from other people such as, “what a great big sister you are,” “you are so helpful” or “wow you are so mature for your age.” From that point on I felt I was on a pedestal which meant I had to do whatever I could to stay on top.
Fast forward to high school I always compared myself to the other girls in my grade. Am I as pretty as she is? Do I weight more than her? What size pants do you think she is? Would I fit into her clothes? Do you think she works out? How does she look so good all the time? I kept my distance from most people in my grade, most of my friends were older. I dated but they were always boys a few grades higher than myself. I started dating a guy my sophomore year which lasted for four years. I remember always comparing myself to his sister and his mother. I thought they were so beautiful and I wanted to be just like them. My senior year of high school I started to overexercise and lost some weight. From this I received a lot of attention and compliments especially from his family which made me want to keep going and lose more. My mom saw my weight dropping and had a serious conversation with me about being healthy and that my exercise was becoming too much and too extreme. She even threatened to call the gym and cancel my membership which terrified me. After that talk I thankfully took her advice and cut back. Though the thoughts of wanting to be thinner and work out to burn calories never exited my mind.
In college I continued to keep my fitness craze and work out every day. My weight fluctuated depending on the friends I had or who I was dating and if I was out being social or not. I notice that I usually conform to those around me, especially if they are thinner. I want to be just as thin as them if not more so I go to dangerous lengths to get there. During my junior year, I dated someone I was crazy in love with and after six months he broke up with me right before Thanksgiving; I was absolutely devastated. After the break up I lost myself, I didn’t care about how I looked because I felt alone and that no one loved me. I gained some weight and I watched the pounds creep on. I ignored it out of spite until summer was approaching and I decided I was done not taking care of myself. I was still exercising but not eating right and the fact that I had to go buy bigger pants made me cringe. I made the decision that I would go on a diet to get healthy and back to my weight and figure I had maintained most of my life. This is where my journey with ED began…