Monday, July 18, 2011

It Wasn't About the Food

I wouldn't say for sure that I've ever had an eating disorder, but definitely disordered eating.

I don't quite know or completely understand how it started or why or really even when exactly. I don't even have super concrete memories. And the memories I do have are a bit scattered.

I've always been a picky eater. I still struggle eating most of my vegetables. Peas still trigger my gag reflex. Eew!

After I skipped 6th grade, I started at the Junior High. I was sooo nervous. I really like people to like me. I didn't want to be a nerd and an outcast. I wanted friends.

I had so much anxiety that it literally made me feel sick to my stomach. I think at least 3-4 times the very first week, I walked into the bathroom at school first thing- which was usually empty- and puked. I always felt so much better after puking. Natural rush of endorphins. I would feel better. Like I could take on the day. Energized. And hungry, too. Sometimes, I liked feeling my stomach growl. It empowered me more. I feel weird writing that now, but I can still remember the feeling. I remember at night feeling it rumble and feeling like I was in control.

I remember that I would puke at almost the same exact time every day. One time, we were running late to school and I made my mom pull over so I could puke. It wasn't really about food or being fat- or was it? I had so much anxiety. Sometimes, now, I just want to puke because I know it will make me feel better. I haven't since junior high, though. But even 10 years later the thought is still there when I get really stressed. Even when I was puking, it wasn't because I physically made myself. I know now that it's really common for kids to have a somatic manifestation of their worries and fears.

My parents (wise ones that they are) noticed I wasn't eating very well and made me keep track of every single thing I ate in a day on a white board for them to see. I don't really know how it happened or why. I remember my mom scaring me with threats of going to the hospital and having a tube down my throat. I hate hospitals and needles. My friends would come over and see the white board with the foods that I ate and wonder about it. I felt embarrassed.

I also remember that I wasn't really losing weight which I found very odd since I thought puking up food would make me skinnier. I was always envious of the skinnier girls. I hated the fact that I had curves. I remember my first bra was a 34B. I would sometimes wear two sports bras to try and hide them.

One day, in junior high, I just stopped puking. I stopped feeling as nervous. I remember feeling like I was fitting in. I had a great group of friends. I felt like I would be fine. I had power. I was accepted. I don't really remember the day exactly, but I really think friends and a sense of control and acceptance helped.

I think that's why I believe so much in Group Therapy. Being a co-facilitator for Fed Up With Food changed me for the better. There were (and still are) so many amazing girls in there. They are so lucky to have each other. At times, I still struggle a lot with my body. I still struggle sometimes with food. I can easily get caught up on numbers and good/bad foods. Being in that group helped me a lot as a facilitator. I think it's just good to know other people have the same fears as you.

I hope to work with young girls struggling with things like I struggled with. It's so hard to make it through junior high and high school. It's hard to feel accepted and loved and still cool. More than ever, girls receive the message that skinny is good. I've heard of girls as young as 5 with disordered eating. Most of the time, it isn't about food. Even here in "Happy Valley" where there are lots of LDS girls taught how their body is a temple, don't judge, have love for all, just do your best etc. It still happens.

If any of you have struggled with something like this, feel free to comment (anonymously if you want). What do you think "caused" it? What was it about for you?

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