I haven’t talked about this with really anybody ever extensively, which is why I think I need to now.
I am not an expert, or a doctor, I am just a girl, and this is just my experience.
As I’m sure I’ve made evident by now in my other various posts, you probably know that I’ve seen a lot of people about my brain for quite a long time. And pretty much every time I see someone for my brain, for as long as I’ve been seeing people, I will be asked about my eating habits and body image. For the longest time, these questions were just a nuisance because eating and body image were never my problem when I first started struggling with mental health. I had no problem with the way I looked when I was in high school, I ate whatever my mom would put on the table, I was reasonably active, and my body didn’t really bother me. So I just carried on about my business, cutting and going to more doctors, and cutting some more and going to more doctors, without thinking an eating disorder would ever be on my radar.
Then I went to this crazy place called university where I lived on my own, made my own choices, and had more independence in all aspects of my life including my recovery. If I thought I was sick in high school, university kicked it into high gear. Life was hitting me from every side: I was alone for substantial amounts of time, confused always, stressed always, and I discovered the art of bingeing. Bingeing was this new beautiful fantasy world where my brain stopped thinking just for a second and I escaped into something delicious. I needed an escape you see, and bingeing is just like cutting but more acceptable in society’s eyes. So I would hide in my dorm under my desk, binge, and think it was ok.
It was around this time that I lost contact with my body and I didn’t recognize myself anymore, I wasn’t Chelsea I was just a shell where Chelsea once lived. I stopped taking care of myself in the simplest of ways, I didn’t care about myself at all. I let people use my body however they saw fit thinking that maybe then I would feel something, when really it just left me emptier and more confused.
As this is all happening I started taking birth control, and my medications for my depression were changing almost biweekly which seemed to do nothing but contribute to my weight gain.
So as one would imagine I gained weight, I gained a lot of weight, and on a short 5”1 girl it showed.
I hated myself, I hated looking at myself, I hated seeing people look at me, I hated clothes, I hated mirrors, I hated talking to people, I hated meeting people, I hated seeing pictures of myself, I hated it all. I was so angry–as if I didn’t hate my insides enough now I needed to hate my outsides too? I needed it to stop, I needed a solution, so I sat myself down on my bathroom floor while I was home alone and I tried purging for the first time. I carried on with that a few times a week for a while but when I was hit with a huge wave of depression, I didn’t have the energy to carry on so I resorted back to bingeing.
Eventually my brain started to get healthier but my body wasn’t following suit and I didn’t know why. When I got back to school I was busy all day every day so I wasn’t paying much attention to my eating until someone one day asked me if I had lost weight. I hadn’t thought about it up until that point and when I did some reflecting I was overcome with relief because I had found the “cure” for my most embarrassing issue of all. If I just didn’t eat I would lose the weight and go back to my normal self. So that’s exactly what I did, I went through my week almost in competition with myself, seeing how long I could go without eating. The results were exactly what I wanted them to be, I was losing the weight and people were noticing.
I didn’t see anything wrong with this charade until I had my psych assessment where the psychiatrist told me I had, “pieces of various eating disorders that stemmed from having no self-worth.” I rejected that statement immediately, I didn’t have an eating disorder I was just fixing myself and this was the only way how. That is seriously what I thought when I heard that. So I carried on not eating despite my doctor telling me otherwise, despite the migraines, despite the exhaustion, I thought I was ok.
A little while later my doctor got me into a meditation class which rocked my world completely. We had to try this body scan where you lie down and literally just scan your body, paying attention to how you feel physically, emotionally, spiritually. That’s when it clicked for me.
I had lost touch with my brain, my soul, and my body.
A whole human being is mind, body, and spirit. You can’t have one without the others. I disconnected the three pieces when my mind was sick, I neglected my body and spirit, when my mind was getting better I focused my attention on my body. I am at my healthiest, however, when I am attentive to my mind, my body, and my spirit. When we eat properly for our bodies, when we tend to our minds, and feed our souls they all help each other out. One is not more important than the other or more worthy than the other; they each play a part in our well being.
I talk about cutting, I talk about suicide, I talk about depression, why is this different? I think because it was unknown to me and in a way it felt like a defeat. It felt like my body was rejecting me too when I was already getting enough rejection from my mind. Now I am going to choose to look at it as another battle I am fighting, another battle to learn from, grow from, and gain from.
I don’t have the cure; my eating and body image is still a daily battle–hourly battle is probably more accurate. I was doing some reading and I learned that every 62 minutes somebody dies from an eating disorder. Maybe there are people like me out there that don’t understand it and aren’t talking about it, but just like depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide, mental illness – eating disorders need to be talked about too. Maybe if we start to talk about it, maybe if we start to share, maybe it will lose some of its power, maybe we can learn more together to fight it. Or maybe not I don’t know but I DO know that it feels better to know you’re not alone. So if you find yourself reading this seeing some of yourself in my story, if you’ve been struggling for a long time, if you’re in recovery, if you’re just starting to piece it together, if you know someone dealing with this, I don’t have the answers but I want you to know that I hear you.
You’re not alone.
You’re cared for.
Do you have any experience with eating disorders? Do you know somebody who does? Do you have any advice or me?
Until next time,
About Chelsea Moore
My name is Chelsea! I am in my third year of university studying Anthropology and Sociology. I started self harming when I was 15, had my first suicide attempt when I was 16, and that is when I was diagnosed with Depression. Since then my life has been about recovery, and throughout this journey writing has been my safe place. Throughout my journey I've learned that everyone has a story, and hurting together feels a lot better than hurting behind closed doors.I am passionate about bringing awareness to mental illness, and couldn't be more excited about this opportunity to write for Healthy Minds Canada!