I think I was 14 when I first noticed that I had a different view of my body than others did. At first, it wasn't so much about my body. It was more of a control thing. I was very much into sports and working out excessively. It made me feel calm and in control. Exercising a lot is was how i think it started. The idea of an athletic body and how disciplined professional athletes were, drew me into what I wanted to look like. At a certain point, though, the more you get into junior high and high school your appearance becomes a bigger part of who you are. That's when you hit puberty and your body starts to change. There are traits that others may exhibit as warning signs for anorexia/bulimia. Physically, they may present themselves with a "zombie" look. They'll be tired from just walking and have a skeletal figure. They won't eat much or may even skip meals altogether.
After awhile an eating disorder feels like an old friend. It's something you've always had, something that never leaves you, and something you can always go back to. It feels familiar and safe. Even though you know it's bad, it's always been there. Sometimes it says the sweetest things and gives you the most promises. Other times it makes you hate yourself and feel disgusting but it's still that "friend" that's always been there. Through the good or bad and that's a hard thing for people to grasp; that there's this little voice telling you you're good enough or you're not enough. And whatever way it speaks, that "friend" is the only thing you think this will help.
Another thing that people don't realize is being "skinny" isn't every part of an eating disorder. They come in all shapes and states of mind. It can be about wanting the perfect body which means starving yourself to the bone, or working out excessively until you have that prefect muscle tone. To you, the eating disorder is the perfect weight, the perfect body tone, the perfect way to cope, the prefect way be in control. But "perfect" never comes and it's never enough; even if you get to what you think your "perfect"was suppose to be. You can be "fat, skinny, bone like, muscular, fit, boy, girl, whatever" asking someone what an eating disorder "looks like" is kind of like asking a blind person to describe the colors in the world. It's ignorant to be honest. They say it's about "beauty" but it's about so much more than that. There isn't one set way anyone looks. There isn't one set way how it presents itself there isn't one set way or gender. It's completely unbiased and it'll take whoever it can.
When you're deep into an eating disorder, whatever kind, it has detrimental effects on those closest to you as well. It's been a rough struggle and people around me have experienced every emotion you can think of. They've been worried, sad, concerned, angry, feed up, loss for words, or out of options. It made me mad at the world; not care about anyone but me, care too much, and try to get help only to disappoint yet again. It's a self loss, self control, self hating, and self fulfilling thing. It's the toxic relationship you want to let go but keep going back to because it's familiar to you in at a certain point you don't think you deserve better or if you're not willing to try to get better.
Some things I learned in rehab that help me with my daily struggle are to use my coping skills, and find someone to talk to. You're only as alone as you let yourself be, and getting help isn't weak - it's strength. Don't listen to the voice telling you to fall back into old way. Most importantly, though, even if just for a second you listen to that voice and you slip up, that does not negate the days, weeks, months, or years you fought that voice off. Just because you had a slip-up does not make you a bad person. It does not make you weak. Hiding it, continuing to do it, or not finding help - that's when it becomes a problem again. You don't have to throw your whole sobriety out the door just because of a one slip-up. It's getting help after you slip up that makes the difference.
Relearning how to eat, and knowing that "healthy" isn't a bad thing, was a rule of anorexia and bulimia that I eventually had to break, in order to get my life back. My body had to get use to food again. It's called the "refeeding process". You've deprived your body of certain things that it got used to, and to a certain point to when you actually start giving it your body doesn't know what to do and it starts to freak out on you. Sometimes going to the bathroom with someone or having someone else to eat with you helps, something people don't realize is that you never really get rid of an addiction. It's always there, it's the fact that you've chosen to be stronger than it; to push it back, to feel worthy just say "No" to that voice in the back of your head. That's the hardest thing to break: is to keep saying "No" until it's second nature. Who in your life has been your biggest support and how? My family has been my biggest support system; my mom most of all. I've never known any mom like her and I don't know what I did to deserve the kind of mom that she is. She's amazing and I put her through so much, and she still stayed. She still had hope. She still struggled with me when I struggled to get me better because she loves me and she knew that I deserve more and that there was nothing she wouldn't do for me. My family has never given up on me. They've always been my support. No matter what I did or said, or how much, it cost or what happened - they were always there. They never let me down and they never left me.
My boudoir experience has made me embrace that it doesn't matter who I am, what I look like, or what size I wear, I'm freaking beautiful no matter what! Honestly though, the thing that helped me the most was Missy. The way she makes you feel SO comfortable and beautiful in your own body. She had fun with me and she made me feel AMAZING! She made me feel and look every bit as beautiful as I should feel every day.
I think the first time I finally saw myself like others did, (as the skin and bones/skeleton walking around) was when I was two months into treatment. We were able to go into the different programs where we were responsible for ourselves, and we were allowed to have internet and computers. I was looking at old Facebook pictures from before I went into rehab, and I finally saw what I REALLY looked like. Up until that moment I didn't truly "see" what was looking back at me in the mirror. I didn't see skin and bones poking through. I didn't see the withering away, the zombie walking around. It was a good feeling to see that, to FINALY see what I was doing to my body and mind. It was freeing to know I finally SAW the real me and then also knowing I had grown so much since those pictures were taken.
Some things that I say to myself when I'm struggling with anorexia/bulimia are: Having an eating disorder something that will always be with me but I can overcome it and work on it every day. I don't have to go back to it. I have so much more to live for. I think of other things I can do and I know that I can reach out for help. I'd say the biggest reason is my daughter. She gave me the best reasons and because of her, I want to stay healthy. I don't ever want her to go through what I have and I don't want to be gone from her life because of this. She is my saving grace for all of it.