As Sarah continues to make her way to progress to recovery from Anorexia, she has found it helpful to express her thoughts and feelings by writing guest blog posts. If you've ever known anyone who struggles with Anorexia, have struggled with eating disorders in the past, or just want to educate yourself some more read below. We are all cheering for Sarah as she works her way to recovery.
One of the hardest things for me to do is to come out of hiding. To stop hiding what I do not eat, stop hiding behind clothing, to not hide my emotions, and most of all to not hide the fact that yes I do indeed have an eating disorder. The biggest step for anyone with an eating disorder to take is to admit they have a problem and to seek help. For me, it took almost 22 years. There are days when I wish I would never have opened my mouth as it was so much easier to hide.
Coming out of hiding means confiding in friends and family and let me tell you, in my situation, not everyone is supportive. Some friends have shut me out because they can not look at me in my current state. Some ask “are you sure you have a problem and it isn't medical because you always ate?” Some just ignore it because they have no idea how to be supportive.
It is very difficult to explain to someone not familiar with eating disorders that everyone with an eating disorder does it differently. In my honest opinion there is no textbook way to do an eating disorder. I remember in my high school's ninth grade health class we had to do a report on a disease or disorder. I chose Anorexia. The information I found was not very informative, it pretty much defined anorexia as someone who didn't eat, or binged, or purged, and didn't approve of their body image. Nowhere in the resource material did it ever mention the words relapse or recovery. It was a textbook with definitions and no wonder I didn't think I had a problem because to me I ate.
I would eat an apple or a salad for lunch then do an hour and a half or more of team practice and finally go home and eat a small dinner. I would eat candy like there was no tomorrow because I knew I would be running it off in practice. In my mind there wasn't a problem and I am learning that in my family and friends minds there wasn't one either because to them I ate.
One of the other comments I hear now from the people closest to me is “you were just active and had a high metabolism.” Yes I was active. I competed on a varsity team, won state titles, was a straight A student, and was involved in at least seven clubs in high school. I also had two jobs and still managed to find time to be with friends and a boy friend. When I think about this, I realize that it was easy to move eating to the lowest point on my priority list. I am also learning now when I look back it was never about what I ate but more about what I didn't eat. I surely did not consume enough calories on a daily basis to sustain the exercise I was doing and I never really lost weight growing up but I tried really hard not to gain it either.
My anorexia is not about the food, believe it or not. It is a coping mechanism, a way to deal with my emotions and most importantly to maintain control. Trying to be the perfect student, perfect athlete, and a perfect kid isn't easy. I felt out of control like nothing I did was good enough. I never felt fully accepted, but always tried to make sure everyone around me was happy and cared for. All of these feelings and emotions followed me into adulthood because I never knew how to deal with them as a child.
Having control of what I eat feels safe to me, it is the one thing I will always have control over. I am slowly learning, through therapy, healthier ways to express my emotions and deal with everyday life. I have agreed to do this blog to help others understand what eating disorders are about and to also help others who are going through similar situations. Yes recovery is a hard and emotional process but it is possible. Currently right now I am trying to get to a state of recovery. There are good days and bad days and I never know what the next day is going to bring, but for now I need to remind myself that tomorrow is always a new day and a fresh start.