This post comes in response to:
WEEKLY WRITING CHALLENGE : FIT TO WRITE
I feel fit to write this post today, after successfully battling anorexia for ten big years of my life. For anyone who has had a brush with an eating disorder or has a loved one suffer through that, can understand perfectly, how the obsession, compulsiveness, and perfectionism of an eating disorder can drive a person to almost total frenzy.
I constantly questioned the fat content in each food. Refused to eat all deserts and oily foods. Each time, when there was some mention of eating out or special dinners, I turned hysterical at every suggestion and invitation. Gradually, my life reduced to only two things: my dream for a perfect figure and my eating habits to realize the same. I pendulated between only two emotions: ‘Euphoria’ on losing a few inches and ‘Disgust’ on gaining a couple of pounds back!
It all began when I was in college. Yes, I always had this fascination for everything perfect. And so I guess the eating disorder was predictable when I left home for higher studies in a different city. It started during my examination time when in an effort to squeeze some extra time for more studies, I cut down on my eating trips to the mess and on my sleep time. It was just a naive desire to give my best. And voila! Not only did I top the University but also lost a lot of weight.
Always been on a chubbier side, I felt flattered with my new figure. My peers showered me with compliments. As chance would have it, the most good looking hunk in town, became my first boyfriend, strengthening the association all the more. I came to believe, I could anything and everything by controlling my eating habits. Soon, I was identified as the ‘perfect girl’. I was the college topper, I had the most good looking boyfriend and I had the best figure, any girl can die for!
Before I could realize it, I was exercising for hours, counting every single calorie in food, arguing endlessly with my parents and isolating myself completely from the outside world. In my effort to be that ‘perfect girl’, I exposed myself to the worst physical, mental and emotional torture. I denied myself food when I was hungry, ran fastest on the treadmill, when I needed rest and isolated myself from my family and close friends when I needed love.
I kept having the regular ups and downs with my eating obsession until the saturation point came. By that time, I had moved to a bigger city for work. I was still the ‘perfect girl’ managing both a hectic career and an ideal body weight in a metro city like Mumbai. Then an accident happened. I got bitten by a dog. For any other person, this would have been any other bad incident and would have easily got away with an anti-rabies injection, this small mishap endangered my life and my newly launched career.
My body was too weak to stand the regular course of antibiotics and anti-rabies injections. To make the matters worse, I developed an allergic reaction to the topical medicines prescribed for the wound. The entire skin on my left leg almost putrefied. I was hospitalized and advised bed rest for a full month. It was my first job, I could not afford such a long sick leave! It was a matter of survival. My whole life, my whole career was at stake! I had no choice but to eat.
For the first time, after such a long span, I ate. I ate well. I ate to my heart’s content and I ate all my favourite foods. Tears came down my eyes when I relished my favourite choco-chip ice cream once again. I realized, what all I had been missing in life. The dog-bite incident was like a blessing in disguise. Of course, the change and recovery didn’t happen overnight. There were incidents of relapsing and recovering.
And gradually, I learned to dissociate my self worth from an ideal figure. I realized my friends value me for my core and not my perfect body. I discovered I am more than my appearance. This is as much journey of discovery as of recovery. Today, I am free from anorexia. I feel free, healthy and fit to write my story. I do strive for perfection, but I strive for perfect health and not for the perfect body.
And perfect health to me is being at peace with your body and mind. I do nourish my body with the right nutrients, go for light walks, take proper sleep and rest but also understand that it’s okay to be imperfect and it is okay to give in to desires. After all, we are blessed with only one life!
If you or your loved one is struggling with an eating disorder or if you’re wondering how to treat anorexia nervosa, let me tell you there’s help. Anorexia nervosa or any other eating disorder can be successfully treated with the right approach, therapy, and of course nutritional rehabilitation.
So whether you have anorexia or your loved one has anorexia, ask your doctor or mental health professional for advice on coping strategies and emotional support.