I find it all too ironic that the first three letters of ‘diet’ are DIE.
Fasting. Starving. Dwindling near death. Groaning in hunger. That’s the only way, right?!
I lived as a chronic dieter for 15 years, because I thought there wasn’t any other way to be thin.
All throughout high school, I struggled with typical teenage akward body struggles. I was a pretty sheltered teenager, so I didn’t really do a whole lot of hanging out with guys- so the whole concept of “does my body look sexy?” didn’t really come up for me a whole lot. Even though I am from Texas, no pageants or cheerleading for me; I was your everyday one-piece wearing wallflower dotted with acne. It wasn’t until I got to college, and moved into an all female dorm, that I really became aware of what my body shape looked.
I pledged a sorority, and gradually became more and more aware that everyone around me was so “tiny.” It seemed like all of the upperclassmen spent a whole lot of time working out; way more-so than the freshmen. Gradually as I progressed from freshmen to sophomore, I moved out of the dorms and into an apartment with friends. The summer in between freshman and sophomore year- I’d made up my mind to drop some weight; I’d put on a little bit of the ‘freshman 15.’ I worked out super hard all summer and by the time I came back to school in the fall I’d lost 20 pounds.
Happy with my new progress, I made up my mind to do everything I could to no regain the weight; that meant I’d have to be super strict with my diet. I was so super strict that I was a little too strict. I wouldn’t buy anything that wasn’t diet food. Any sometimes I’d get hungry for food that wasn’t mine (like my roommates’ food). I’d eat their food then lie about it when they would confront me, because I was so ashamed. I started taking Ephedra diet pills to help me shed the weight that I started to accumulate (again…). I was starting to feel unhappy with my body, again. But after a while with the diet pills, they weren’t working like they had before- and this time there was something new…but I didn’t know how to exactly put my finger on exactly what it was. I felt weird. Like, sad almost. Low, sort of. Moody.
By the end of the spring semester my roommates were all talking about me behind my back and hated me because I was out of control eating their food. I had no control on my appetite. The shame I felt was unbelievable. The eating had gone from snacking on reasonable portions to out-of-control munching to full-on binging in my car alone in grocery store parking lots. I returned home to my parents house in Dallas at the end of the spring semester having gained a considerable amount of weight. But this time I brought home with me a new friend: depression from the diet pills.
When we play with food, diet pills, and exercise, we play with our brain chemistry and level of happiness. This was the beginning of a 9-year battle that finally ended for me in late 2009. Over the course of the 9-years I was unwell I missed out on friends weddings, I didn’t taking any pictures with friends because I hated what I looked like, I wouldn’t look in the mirror, I wasn’t in any serious relationships (it was too scary to let someone get so close), I was selfish, I didn’t care how my actions made others feel, and I honed a whole host of narcissistic personality traits that had to be unlearned.
I missed out on so much life – nearly a decade. I was a girl with bruises all over the inside of her. I hurt people left and right- then left them to die (figureatively). Guilt controlled me. Shame was my master. Silence my best friend. Loneliness my substance of choice. Food the enemy. Pleasure un-allowed. Only fat girls said that they liked food. MY Enjoyment was sold separately.
No carbs. No sugar. I’d either eat no bread or I’d eat the whole loaf. I’d either eat no ice cream or I’d eat the entire half-gallon. I had assembled a whole list of “bad foods” – bread, pasta, sugar, candy, hamburgers- fun food and a whole host of foods that normal people eat. I would never eat those foods around people in public. I’d only eat those foods alone, in private, probably in binge quantity because I was so ashamed of craving them. It’s human nature, you see- we crave anything we deny ourselves.
Going out to dinner with me was a disaster because I didn’t eat much and wouldn’t eat at very many restaurants. This habit of binging/restricting led to some serious weight gain over the course of 9 years. To deal with the extreme weight gain, at one point, I’d begun working out 4 hours of day to burn off the calories. But…as I didn’t know, my excessive working out what just stoking my appetite even more, and setting me up for binge after binge after binge. And so the cycle continued.
And it would continue, for as long as I wanted to keep it running. That’s the thing with anyone who has a binge eating disorder- they are the only one who can stop the madness, put down the ice cream or get off the treadmill (or in my case, BOTH). An intervention won’t do anything except create offense and cause distance and increased secrecy.
In my case, God knew exactly how and when he planned to rescue me; but of course it would be up to me to be brave and take bold action…To be continued in part 2, tomorrow.
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