Photo credit: Collette Robert
I used to be a confident and outgoing kid and it’s hard to say when that changed; maybe it was just going through puberty, or changing schools over the years, but something definitely changed. I remember constantly worrying about how I looked, who was looking at me, what people thought of me, hiding my body in baggy clothes, stressing about how much better I could be, how much better I could do, convincing myself that no one liked me. For years these thoughts seemed to control my brain but I didn’t understand where they were coming from, I constantly felt the need to be perfect, especially my body; I felt that that’s the only way people would like me.
My first year of university seemed great; I was playing varsity hockey, making new friends, living in a new city and doing really well in school, but these thoughts still seemed to be controlling me. After hockey season ended I was convinced that I had gained weight, despite the scale showing otherwise, it didn’t matter; my own body disgusted me. In the summer after my first year of university I was working a job I hated in an abusive work environment. Before work I would go to the gym, and after my 8 hour shift I would spend every minute I could studying for my summer courses, go to bed and do it all over again. I felt like I was losing control over my life, I didn’t know how to handle the pressure and the stress I was putting on myself.
I could see myself falling into a downward spiral even though I was convinced an eating disorder could never happen to me. But I started cutting certain foods out of my diet, and then restricting myself and counting calories, but I would lose control and binge on the foods I told myself would make me fat. In my head I knew what was happening but it felt as though I couldn’t stop. The first time I made myself throw up I was in tears, I didn’t understand why I was doing something to myself that I knew was so bad for me. After that point it didn’t matter what I ate, I had to get rid of it before I gained weight. Binging and purging became my best friend and my worst enemy. It consumed my thoughts in cycles of feeling guilty, worthless, anxious, and relieved.
After a while I told a close friend who convinced me to tell my mom what was happening. I began seeing therapists and counsellors and getting the help I knew I needed. Reaching out for help was the hardest part of my eating disorder, but it was the most important thing I could have done. I had my family and friends behind me supporting me every step of the way. It’s been 2 years since I’ve recovered from my eating disorder, and there are still some hard days, but every day I take a step towards appreciating and accepting myself for me, which is much more than just a body.
I’ve learned things about myself during recovery and know that these experiences are a part of me and will be forever, but they don’t define me or what I will do with my life. These experiences made me who I am proud to be today, and I’m not ashamed of the journey that brought me here; I struggled with an eating disorder and still suffer from anxiety, but I’m much more than that.