Admitting you have a problem is the first step in helping yourself and allowing others to do so as well. When my cry for help came, I was exhausted to the point that even thinking about the solution was tiring for me. But let’s start from the beginning.
The first time I became aware of my body was in the elementary school. I was among the first girls whose breasts started growing and it was as though I woke from a long sleep. My body was changing, but unfortunately, not the way I expected.
My cheeks were chubby and curves started showing so I was far from models, singers and actresses I admired. To top all that, my parents were going through their marital crisis and suddenly I felt all alone with my body and its changes.
The first diets
I’ve met children who believed that food is making them overweight. They are so sure in that belief that it’s hard to convince them they must have three full and regular meals a day. It’s hard enough to explain to them that there are good carbs and fats they can eat.
Children today are even more suggestible than they were when I was young. The contents, which promote certain dietary habits in order to sculpt your body, are more accessible than ever.
I understand how easy the young mind can be seduced by the promises of quick solutions. After all, I was one of them.
I remember a boy at school often talking about his sister and her obsession with diets. He didn't do it because he wanted to shame anyone. It was to show other kids how he knows grown-up stuff.
However, other girls and I became interested in his stories and soon enough we began trying out diets.
For me, the first thing to try was the Atkins diet. It stayed for a few months, but then I decided to adapt it since I felt as though it had no effect. Since Atkins is the diet including low-carb intake, it was easy for me to lose all grains, even the good ones from my meals.
Soon after, I stopped eating fruits and vegetables like carrots and onions with the known higher percent of carbs.
Adapting the diet without any professional input is dangerous and only leads to dissatisfaction. Moreover, that can make you do foolish and reckless things.
At the age of 16, I began slowly to step in the eating disorder domain. From there, my fixation on my body image only spiralled and soon enough I observed food as something bad and unwanted.
Going through the motions
My mother and father continuous fights and disagreements lead to their divorce when I was in my senior year of high school. It’s not that they didn’t notice us, on the contrary, they never neglected us. It was an emotionally tough period for them so it was easy to pass under the radar.
Nobody noticed that I ate as little as possible or skipped meals altogether under the excuse of having dinner at the friend’s house. When hunger bothered me, I would binge eat and then go to the bathroom and throw up.
Once, my brother caught me coming out of the bathroom with reddened eyes and coughing. I had to pretend that I had stomach flu and spent days spilling tea in the trash can in my room.
However, my eating disorder only became more pronounced and I spent years starving myself, binge eating and throwing up. I ate breakfast because I still believed that it’s an important meal of the day. Yet my morning meals were far from nutritional.
I've been skinny for most of my adolescent years, but not too thin to cause people to ask questions. After my teenage years, my body adapted to the hormonal change and post-puberty metabolism. The weight loss from then on was very visible since I had around 100 pounds.
Still, I thought I was overweight and continued my efforts to lose more pounds.
How college saved my life
People around me used to say that college would change my life. It never dawned on me as a life-saving experience until I was lying in the emergency room. As I said, the first part of resolving a problem is admitting you have one, and that was the moment I did so.
From then on, my immediate family and friends, now aware of my troubles, were adamant to help me see this fight through. My brother suggested going to the gym and taking protein powder to build muscle strength. Also, my physician recommended a nutritionist and taking supplements, since I was suffering from iron and vitamin D deficiency.
The overall status of my body wasn't good. Blood analysis showed I had burdened my kidneys. A positive thing was that my other organs didn't suffer any serious and long-lasting damage. Although, my stomach needed some adjusting to the new diet.
Additionally, I started seeing a psychiatrist on regular basis. He put me on medications for depression and anxiety, as well as recommended that I keep a journal. Whenever I felt doubt or started hating the way I looked, I was to write it down and we would discuss it later in the session.
Little by little, I gained back the control of my life. Today, I talk to children about positive body image and healthy diet.
I believe that my experience, as well as of others who suffered from eating disorder, is helping young people bit their self-image and unhealthy habits.
Life is a wonderful and amazing experience. I spent my youth dedicated to right the problem I didn’t have. Eating disorders are a serious matter many young people go to as the easiest solution.
But with support from their family and loved ones, they will soon look at themselves as beautiful individuals they are. I know I did.
About Catherine Palmer
Cate is a psychologist by day and a writer by a night. She is above all a huge geek, and she is constantly researching and learning. Cate's fields of expertise could be summed up in well-being, mental health, and lifestyle-related topics. Her interests are on the other hand wide and ever-evolving.